The Texas Rangers played their way through a rigid playoff path to their first World Series title. The mentality of the team never wavered through the highs and the lows, and that was increasingly evident throughout the playoff run.
Wild Card Series vs. Tampa Bay (won 2-0)
Game 1: Rangers 4, Rays 0
Game 2: Rangers 7, Rays 1
First baseman Nathaniel Lowe: “It’s a tough test. It’s a long year. Having to come down to a tiebreaker’s not what we wanted, but we had plenty of opportunities to play better, and we didn’t. We’re going to have to do it the hard way, and we’re going to keep the momentum going into Baltimore.”
The Rangers kept the momentum going throughout the playoffs and responded to every tough test, going through a gauntlet of the American League’s top teams while going undefeated on the road.
ALDS vs. Baltimore (won 3-0)
Game 1: Rangers 3, Orioles 2
Game 2: Rangers 11, Orioles 8
Game 3: Rangers 7, Orioles 1
Catcher/designated hitter Mitch Garver: “In these playoff games, one swing can change it. I got into a situation there in a hitter’s count where I was looking for a fastball, and I was able to get it. I think it’s just a big momentum push for our whole team, and we needed all those runs today.”
Garver was referring to his Game 2 grand slam that proved to be the difference in the game. Still, Texas had many clutch hits throughout the playoffs, especially from Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia in the ALCS and the World Series.
ALCS vs. Houston Astros (won 4-3)
Game 1: Rangers 2, Astros 0
Game 2: Rangers 5, Astros 4
Game 3: Astros 8, Rangers 5
Game 4: Astros 10, Rangers 3
Game 5: Astros 5, Rangers 4
Game 6: Rangers 9, Astros 2
Game 7: Rangers 11, Astros 4
Bochy on Nathan Eovaldi: “It’s about picking each other up. He picked us up and made some great pitches.”
Eovaldi emerged as the Rangers’ ace this season and was brilliant throughout the playoffs, going 5-0 with a 2.95 earned run average in six starts.
Third baseman Josh Jung: “Going into Houston and taking those two games to switch home-field advantage, you knew they were going to punch you back at some point. They’re a really good team. They’re the defending champs, so you know it’s going to happen. Now, it’s our turn to flip the script.”
Jung’s comment foreshadowed the Rangers’ flipping of the script on Houston. Although they struggled on the road and ultimately lost the division at the end of the season, the Rangers responded when it mattered most and won the matchups that really counted.
GM Chris Young: “I can’t explain how proud I am of this group. … We’ve had some hard times recently. Those are over. These players deserve this.”
The Rangers lost 102 games just two seasons ago yet won their third American League pennant behind Young’s leadership and many players who have spent extended time in the organization.
World Series vs Arizona Diamondbacks (won 4-1)
Game 1: Rangers 6, Diamondbacks 5
Game 2: Diamondbacks 9, Rangers 1
Game 3: Rangers 3, Diamondbacks 1
Game 4: Rangers 11, Diamondbacks 7
Game 5: Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 0
Jung: “It could’ve gotten away from us there, but our bullpen did a great job.”
The Rangers bullpen was a problem during the regular season but pulled things together during the playoff run. In Game 1 of the World Series, the Rangers fell behind 5-3 but came back to win in extra innings as the bullpen held Arizona scoreless for more than six innings.
Bochy: “It’s special to come in here in my first year with a team that was determined to play winning baseball and had never won a championship. … I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to get back into baseball in this type of situation.”
The Rangers were one of six MLB teams that had never won the World Series before the season and used the last two offseasons to build a competitive roster. The front office and ownership talked Bochy out of retirement, and the rest is history.