PHOENIX — They knew. As Marcus Semien’s two-run home run off Paul Sewald floated to the fans in the left-center-field seats, the Rangers knew. Howls emanated from the first-base dugout. Semien’s whole body seemed to let out a cry of relief as he extended his arms passing first base. Corey Seager, in the on-deck circle, saw firsthand the finishing touches of what he started in the opener of the World Series.
The Rangers’ 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the World Series handed Texas its first championship in franchise history. The team with a combined 196 losses between 2021-22 now stands tall on baseball’s mountaintop in 2023.
Seager heard M-V-P chants at Chase Field from the Rangers fans who were devoted enough to be in the building for clinch day. So, it wasn’t a surprise when it Seager — who else? — broke up Zac Gallen’s no-hitter in the seventh inning with a slow rolling single to left field. For an idea of just how locked in Seager has been at the plate, he stood alone in the batter’s box during the eighth inning, frozen in his batting stance, while the Diamondbacks congregated in the center of the diamond for a mound visit. Six Kevin Ginkel pitches later, the superstar shortstop drew a walk.
Seager earned World Series MVP for his clutch home runs in the series — none bigger than his game-tying ninth-inning shot in Game 1 — that were pummeled so hard they were no-doubters off the bat. But, on Wednesday, he made a difference on offense by poking a single with a 67 mph exit velocity through the wide-open space between shortstop and third base before scoring the game’s first run just nine outs from victory.
Gallen’s efforts won’t be forgotten anytime soon, either. He opened with 4.2 perfect innings and didn’t allow a hit until the seventh of this elimination game. He entered the pivotal outing with a 5.27 ERA and 6.33 FIP over five previous postseason starts. Perhaps he was just saving it for the most important game of his career, as he emptied the tank with an exceptional performance.
The All-Star right-hander induced a variety of fly balls, groundouts and strikeouts to keep the Rangers’ overpowering offense off balance. It wasn’t until his 15th batter of the night, Nathaniel Lowe, that Gallen allowed a runner on base by surrendering his only walk of the night. With the D-backs’ backs against the wall, skipper Torey Lovullo could not have asked more from his ace. It was the Arizona offense that squandered its myriad of chances.
Nathan Eovaldi was the antithesis to Gallen. The stalwart of the Rangers’ playoff rotation allowed plenty of traffic on the basepaths, but he kept finding his way out of trouble.
“I kinda joked around, I don’t know how many rabbits I had left in my hat,” Eovaldi said afterward.
Rangers’ Corey Seager wins World Series MVP
From the first inning all the way through the fifth, the D-backs put at least one runner in scoring position in each frame, only to go 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position against Eovaldi. All the while, the Chase Field jumbotron encouraged the home team to create chaos with a flashing graphic. The “Answerbacks” had responded to adversity all October, all season, in fact, but finally ran out of solutions as the calendar turned to November.
In the fourth inning, Evan Longoria’s high fly ball dropped just inside the first-base foul line in shallow right field. Longoria prodded to second for a two-out double. Again, the Diamondbacks put pressure on Eovaldi. Again, they had a runner in scoring position. And again, for the fourth consecutive time, Eovaldi got out of trouble. He got Geraldo Perdomo to freeze on a 94 mph fastball that painted the black. Perdomo threw his bat away, believing he’d drawn a walk, as Texas position players jogged off the field.
That’s who the Rangers have been all year. They bent, with multiple injuries to key players, including injuries to ALCS MVP Adolis García and Max Scherzer in the World Series. But they didn’t break. Thanks to Bruce Bochy, managing his fifth World Series, they didn’t feel sorry for themselves, either. Bochy said this Rangers team experienced the most adversity out of all his pennant teams. But the Rangers picked each other up, found ways to wiggle out of their hard times and won the whole thing.
Deesha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a beat reporter for the New York Daily News. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Deesha grew up on Long Island and now lives in Queens. Follow her on Twitter at @DeeshaThosar.
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