Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer6 Minute Reading
PHOENIX — Max Scherzer found Adolis Garcia in the middle of a fight near the Chase Field pitcher’s mound Wednesday night — moments after a 5-0 victory that sealed the first championship in Texas Rangers history, when the emotions of it all were still fresh — and he hugged her tightly as if he would never let go.
Just 28 hours later, the Rangers knew they would have to win two more games in the World Series without Scherzer and Garcia, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries in Game 3. That they did so and defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks by winning the Game. 4 and 5 in their building, addressing what many have long believed to be the most important aspect of this high-priced, decorated group of players:
That no matter what happens, they will find a way.
“It’s a total team effort to win a World Series,” Scherzer said. “It’s not a man.”
The latest man is Nathan Eovaldi, the 33-year-old right-hander who has struggled with bad command, navigated a bunch of trouble and somehow matched up with a more dominant Zac Gallen through six scoreless innings until the Rangers’ deep lineup finally broke. through.
Mitch Garver got the Rangers on the board with an RBI single in the seventh, and Marcus Semien put the game away with a two-run homer in the ninth.
Semien turned back to his own dugout and roared as he touched first base, a rare display of emotion from the normally stoic second baseman. At that point he knew – the Rangers were on their way to the first championship in their franchise’s 63-year history.
“This is the vision, isn’t it?” Rangers shortstop Corey Seager said after winning the World Series MVP trophy for the second time in his career. “I’m a little lost for words, but it’s a special moment.”
The Rangers finished the greatest postseason in their history with an unprecedented 11-0 record on the road. This helped make them the third team in baseball history to win the World Series within two seasons of losing 100-plus games, joining the 1969 New York Mets and the 1914 Boston Braves.
Texas lost 102 games in 2021 and responded by spending $500 million to sign Semien and Seager the following offseason. A year later, the Rangers gutted their rotation — signing Eovaldi, Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney — and brought three-time champion Bruce Bochy out of retirement to become their manager.
Bochy became the sixth manager with four or more World Series titles, joining Joe McCarthy (7), Casey Stengel (7), Connie Mack (5), Joe Torre (4) and Walter Alston (4) . His consistent presence has proven invaluable for a team that has continued to face adversity.
The Rangers have been hit with a litany of injuries throughout their lineup and their entire pitching staff. DeGrom, signed a $185 million contract to be their ace, underwent Tommy John surgery. Scherzer, acquired midseason to carry the Rangers through October, suffered a shoulder injury that put his entire postseason in question. The likes of Seager, Eovaldi, Garver, Jonah Heim, Josh Jung, Jon Gray, Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc, among others, all hit the injured list as well.
The Rangers had lost eight games in a row near the middle of August and six of their first seven contests to begin September. They held a 2½-game lead in their division going into their final series of the regular season, then lost three of four to the Seattle Mariners, including the finale, to lose the American League West on the final day and fall to the wild card. .
This somehow triggered a seven-game playoff streak, a run that saw them eliminate the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays and the 101-win Baltimore Orioles and take a 2-0 lead in defending champion Houston Astros.
When they lost three straight games at home in the AL Championship Series, they responded by winning back-to-back games in Houston, capturing their first pennant since the World Series disappointment of 2011. When they chased the Diamondbacks down by two runs in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the World Series, they battled all the way back, getting a tying home run from Seager and, in extras, a walk-off home run from Garcia. And when Scherzer (back spasms) and Garcia (oblique strain) lost Game 3, they responded with one of their most dominant performances in Game 4, scoring 10 runs before the end of the third inning, all with two hits. outs.
Game 5 showed their moxie. The Diamondbacks put at least one baserunner on in each of the first five innings, but Eovaldi continued to work out of jams, including a bases-loaded single in the fifth, keeping the game scoreless until the Rangers’ offense finally broke through against Gallen, who was finished. his no-hit bid in the seventh.
Eovaldi lowered his career ERA to 1.03 in potential series-clinchers, the third-lowest mark in history.
Seager led off with a single through vacant third base. Evan Carter, the rookie sensation, followed with a double to right field. And Garver singled up the middle, putting the Rangers on the board. The Rangers broke the game open with four runs in the ninth. Heim singled to center field on a ball that snuck under Alek Thomas’ glove, scoring two runs, and Semien followed with a two-run homer.
It was the kind of opportunity he envisioned when he agreed to team up with Seager less than 24 months ago.
“Everybody in the room wanted it,” Semien said. “We’re all playing for it. We’re not playing for any other accolades or anything. We’re playing for this. We know if you get into the playoffs, get hot, keep the pitchers going, whoever’s going to win it thing.”
About half an hour after the final out was recorded, Chase Field was still filled with about half of the Rangers fans who stayed to watch the trophy presentation. Many of them chanted “Bruuuuce” when Bochy handed over the World Series trophy. Later, inside the visiting clubhouse, Creed’s “Higher,” which has become a rallying cry for this group, blasts from the speakers, cutting through the smoke of cigars and champagne.
At one point Scherzer walked up to veteran infielder Brad Miller, handed him the trophy and instructed him to hold it up and look at his reflection from beneath it.
“Wow!” Miller said in surprise.
The Rangers finally did it.
“It’s unreal,” said Bochy, now a four-time champion manager. “A year ago I was sitting in a chair. To be in this place, I can’t tell you how blessed I am.”