By Field Level Media
October 10, 2023 – 9:36 PM PDT
The Texas Rangers took the hard route after blowing a 2 1/2-game lead in the American League West in the final week of the regular season and landing in the wild-card round.
Five consecutive victories later, the Rangers are headed to the AL Championship Series after a solid 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday at Arlington, Texas.
Texas swept the Tampa Bay Rays in two games in an AL wild-card series before outscoring the Orioles 21-11 in three AL Division Series contests.
The Rangers are headed to their first ALCS since making back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and ’11.
“We regrouped on that flight,” Texas star Corey Seager said of a trip from Seattle following the end of the regular season to Tampa Bay to start the playoffs. “We wanted to punch our ticket (as AL West champion) and we didn’t. We wanted to finish it off and try to win the division, but it didn’t happen. We moved on really fast, and we knew we had an opportunity in front of us.”
Seager hit one of three Rangers’ homers on Tuesday in the club’s first home game of the postseason. Adolis Garcia smacked a three-run homer, Nathaniel Lowe also went deep and Mitch Garver contributed a two-run double for Texas.
Garver, Garcia and Josh Jung each had two hits for the Rangers.
Nathan Eovaldi (2-0) allowed one run and five hits over seven innings for Texas. He struck out seven and walked none in his second straight stellar effort this postseason.
“It is more so just trusting my pitches,” Eovaldi said. “I have a game plan going in, but it’s going to change at times. I had a really good feel for my splitter.”
Texas will face either the Houston Astros or Minnesota Twins in the ALCS, with Game 1 on Sunday in either Houston or Minneapolis.
The Rangers went just 68-94 last season before manager Bruce Bochy was lured out of a three-year retirement by Chris Young, the Texas general manager who pitched for Bochy in 2006 with the San Diego Padres.
Bochy, 68, won three World Series titles as skipper of the San Francisco Giants and is hopeful of adding another.
“It’s just unreal. This is what I came back for, hoping something like this would happen,” Bochy said. “These guys have been warriors. Road warriors. The kind of baseball they’ve been playing is awesome.”
Gunnar Henderson had three hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who have lost eight straight playoff games dating back to 2014. Baltimore won an AL-best 101 games in the regular season.
It was a bittersweet ending for the Orioles.
“They defied all the odds. Nobody gave us a chance,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “These guys played their butts off for six months. We just didn’t play well for these last three, unfortunately. It’s definitely a successful season, and these guys are going to be really good going forward.”
The contest was the first at home for the Rangers since Sept. 24. Texas had played its previous 11 games — seven to end the regular season, four to start the playoffs — on the road.
Seager came up as the second batter in the game against Dean Kremer (0-1) and hammered a 445-foot homer into the seats in right-center. The blast was his first of these playoffs and 14th postseason shot of his career.
Texas loaded the bases with two outs in the second before Garver ripped a double down the third base line to score two. The big hit came two days after Garver hit a grand slam and drove in five runs in Game 2.
Garcia followed with a three-run blast to left-center to make it 6-0 and end Kremer’s night. The 418-foot shot was Garcia’s second career postseason homer, both coming this year.
Baltimore got on the board in the fifth inning when Henderson’s two-out single scored Jordan Westburg from second.
Lowe led off the sixth with a 437-foot homer off Kyle Gibson. It was the first postseason blast of Lowe’s career.
Kremer allowed six runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out none.
–Field Level Media