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World Series Roundup: Rangers beat Diamondbacks to clinch first championship

Texas’ star power delivered the franchise from 102 losses to a World Series crown in just two years.

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

For the first time in their 63-year history, the Rangers are World Series champions! It took a gem of a start from Nathan Eovaldi to out-duel a similarly masterful outing from Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen — who took a no-hitter into the seventh inning — to secure his franchise’s first title. Corey Seager joins Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Reggie Jackson as the only four players to win multiple World Series MVPs, adding to the one he picked up with the Dodgers in 2020. Mitch Garver drove in the contest’s first run, his RBI single in the seventh the decisive blow before Texas secured some late insurance with a four-run ninth off Arizona closer Paul Sewald to end a thrilling series between two of the meteoric risers in the league.

After the bullpen game the night before, it was nice to see both staff aces battle it out in an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. Eovaldi worked himself into a bit of a pickle in the first, issuing a pair of walks to Corbin Carroll and Christian Walker sandwiched around a pair of groundouts from Ketel Marte and Gabriel Moreno, but he got Tommy Pham to ground into a force out to end the early threat. He worked into and out of a similar jam in the third, presumptive NL Rookie of the Year Carroll leading off with a single, Marte drawing a walk and Moreno laying down a sac bunt to advance the pair to second and third with one out. However, Eovaldi struck out Walker swinging on a 96-mph heater and got Pham to ground out to again stand a pair.

Perhaps the biggest moment of the World Series came in the fifth inning. Marte drew a one out walk while Walker singled and Pham walked with two outs to load the bases for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but Eovaldi got him to roll over a curveball to leave the bases juiced. Eovaldi stamped an exclamation mark on his outing, striking out a pair in the sixth to complete six scoreless with five strikeouts. It lowered his postseason ERA to 2.95 in six starts as he continued to reinforce his reputation as a big-game pitcher.

Gallen meanwhile delivered the gutsiest performance of his big league career with his team’s season on the line. Between pinpoint fastball command and the Rangers’ aggressiveness on said pitches early in the count, Gallen was able to breeze through the first four innings, needing 13 pitches in the first, seven in the second and third and eight in the fourth to do the job.

Gallen lost some of that effectiveness in the middle innings, many more of his fastballs finding the heart of the plate, but he still gritted it out to face the minimum in both the fifth and sixth and all of a sudden we were paying a little closer attention to a pitcher two-thirds of the way to matching a feat achieved by only Don Larsen in World Series history.

Unfortunately for Gallen and the D’backs, his spotless run — and as it happens their season — came to an end in the seventh. Seager led off with a single to break up the no-hitter, promptly followed by a Carter double to put two in scoring position with no outs. Up stepped Garver to smack a single up the middle, plating Seager for the contest’s first run.

Gallen managed to strike out Josh Jung before Torey Lovullo called on Kevin Ginkel to record the final two outs to strand both remaining runners and keep the deficit at one. Although he gave up the eventual winning run, Gallen can hold his head high having tossed 6.1 innings of one run ball with six strikeouts, having ultimately been done in by a pair of missed locations.

The Rangers had a golden opportunity to tack on some insurance runs in the eighth, but to no avail. Marcus Semien set the record for most plate appearances in a single season, his eighth inning single coming in his 834th PA between the regular season and postseason, breaking the record set by Lenny Dykstra of the 1993 Phillies. It came between a pair of walks by Travis Jankowski and Seager to load the bases with one out, but after falling behind 2-0 to Evan Carter, Ginkel fought back to strikeout the star rookie outfielder followed by a weak Garver grounder to strand all three ducks on the pond and keep the score at 1-0 heading to the bottom of the eighth.

The reprieve would be short-lived as the Rangers bats finally broke through for a crooked inning, sealing the title by scoring four runs in the ninth off closer Sewald. It was immediately obvious from Sewald’s very first pitch that he didn’t have it, the fastball not quite finding the corners while the sweeper was missing a half a foot of horizontal movement. A hit parade ensued, Josh Jung, Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim kicking off the frame with three straight singles. The final one found its way under Alek Thomas’ glove in center, allowing Jung and Lowe to score and Heim to advance to third, and just like that the game was well and truly over.

Providing a final flourish on a postseason characterized by their offensive firepower, Semien blasted a two-out, two-run home run to left-center on a belt-high fastball to plate the final two runs of the 2023 MLB season.

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the stellar relief pitching to follow Eovaldi. Aroldis Chapman recorded the first two outs of the seventh before handing the ball to Josh Sborz. The 29 year old righty split his time between the majors and Triple-A during the regular season, but got hot just in time to earn a spot on the postseason roster. He rewarded the trust put in him, tossing 2.1 scoreless allowing just one hit against four strikeouts to nail down the title-clinching save — just the second of his career.

The Rangers become the first team to go 11-0 on the road in postseason history as well as the first team to win a World Series game after being no-hit through six innings. It’s a remarkable turnaround for a franchise that lost 102 games two seasons ago. They responded by committing $800 million over two off-seasons on Seager, Semien, Eovaldi, Jacob deGrom, Jon Gray and Andrew Heaney, smashing their rebuild out of the park in way less time than anyone could have expected. Hal Steinbrenner take note, this is what is possible when you provide the financial resources to the right people building your ball club.

As a final note, a special congratulations goes out to Yankees alums Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, Aroldis Chapman, the IL’d Ian Kennedy, and former Baby Bomber Ezequiel Duran. Well deserved on your World Series victory!