Thursday, November 2, 2023

Texas Rangers Win Their First World Series Championship; Bochy Joins Elite Club



The Texas Rangers shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-0, on Wednesday night in Game of the World Series to clinch the first championship in its history. This capped off a playoff run in which they won all 11 road games, which is a new Major League record.

Nathan Eovaldi threw six shutout innings, in which he scattered four hits and five walks, with five strikeouts, escaping out of trouble each inning to earn his fifth win of the playoffs. 

The right-hander, whom they brought in this past offseason from the Boston Red Sox, finished the postseason 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA. In his career, he has a 9-3 record with a 3.05 ERA in October, and he also has a ring he won with Boston in 2018.

Texas was no-hit for the first six innings by Zac Gallen before erupting in the seventh. Corey Seager started it off with a single, followed by an Evan Carter double, and a Mitch Garver RBI single to take a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers turned to Aroldis Chapman got the first two outs in the seventh inning before Josh Sborz finished off that frame and pitched a scoreless eighth.

Arizona brought in their closer, Paul Sewald, for the ninth since it was still a 1-0 game, and the Rangers got some insurance.

Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe opened it with singles before Jonah Heim lined one to center that hugged the carpet to get past Arizona center fielder Alek Thomas to bring them home and make it 3-0.

Then, with two outs, Marcus Semien took a pitch that was up and away and pulled it on a liner to left field for a two-run home run to blow it open at 5-0, and Sborz stayed on to pitch the bottom half of the ninth.

Seager, who Texas signed along with Semien before the 2022 season to anchor the middle of the infield, was named the World Series MVP, as he hit .318 with six home runs with 12 RBI in the postseason. Seager had perhaps the biggest hit of the World Series, as he hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 1 as the Rangers reversed a 5-3 deficit and won 6-5 in 11 innings.

Rangers Manager Bruce Bochy came out of retirement to take over the club this season. This is his fourth World Series ring, having one three with the San Francisco Giants, in 2010, '12, and '14. He is the sixth manager in Major League history to win at least four rings, along with Joe McCarthy (seven), Casey Stengel (seven), Connie Mack (five), Walter Alston (four), and Joe Torre (four). Bochy is the first of this group to win titles with multiple teams. McCarthy, Stengel, and Torre's championships all came with the Yankees, and one of the Torre's came at Bochy's expense, as his Padres were swept in the 1998 World Series by that 125-win Yankee dynamo.

Bruce Bochy with the trophy. @Rangers.

On his place in that exclusive club of managers with four World Series wins, Bochy said, "It's special. I'm not going to lie. It's special to come here in my first year with a team that was determined to play winning baseball and had never won a championship. But as far as me, that's a byproduct of what those guys did out there and what the front office did. I was along for the ride, trust me. I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to get back into baseball in this type of a situation. I was in Nashville just relaxing and had three years off, and to come back and be in this position, I've said so many times, I'll say it again, I'm blessed...

"It's really overwhelming because of what those men accomplished. I did run into Joe Torre a couple of days ago at the hotel and got to speak with him. I mean, what he did, the championships. But you look at that and you know that you're benefiting from so many people, wells dug by others. And for me, to get into this situation, again, very fortunate. But to mention those names, I never thought in my wildest dreams when I started managing that I'd be in this position."

Bochy is now just the second manager/coach in the history of the four major American sports (MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL) to break a franchise's championship drought of 62+ years in his first year at the helm, with Terry Francona the first to do it with the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Also of note when referring to the four major American sports is that Texas is one of three that were first-time winners this year, joining the NBA's Denver Nuggets (founded as an ABA team in 1967) and the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who were established in 2018. The NFL was the exception, as the Kansas City Chiefs took their second Super Bowl title in four years after they broke a 50-year drought in 2019. 

The Rangers franchise was founded in 1961 as the Washington Senators before moving to Texas in 1972. It is one of four franchises without a World Series title in their first 60 seasons, along with the Philadelphia Phillies, who went 97 years from their founding in 1883 until winning it in 1980; the Baltimore Orioles, who went 65 years after they began in 1901; and the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, who went 65 years from their founding in 1890 until "Dem Bums" finally beat the Yankees in 1955.

If you exclude seasons in which no World Series was played (1902 and earlier, 1904 and '94), the longest streaks are the Phillies (76, 1903-79, excluding 1904), Orioles (62, 1903-65, excl. 1904), and Texas (61, 1961-2022, excl. 1994) The Rangers' 61-season span without a championship is the eighth-longest in Major League Baseball history. The longest drought in baseball belongs to the Cleveland Indians/Guardians, who have not won a championship since 1948.

Since Texas now has their crown, there are just five Major League teams without a World Series championship: the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Tampa Bay Rays. Four of those teams have won pennants, so the only one that has not been in a World Series at all is Seattle.

The Rangers won the American League pennant in back-to-back years, 2010 and 2011, the second of which they lost in painful fashion to the St. Louis Cardinals, so they had to wait 12 years to reach this moment again and they made the most of it.

The Rangers had an up-and-down regular season in which they led the American League West most of the way, but coughed it up to the Houston Astros at the end and entered the playoffs as a wild card with a 90-72 record.

The path the Rangers took to get here was one of the toughest ever. They opened the playoffs by beating the 99-63 Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card Series, then swept the 101-61 American-League best Baltimore Orioles in the AL Division Series, followed by dethroning their in-state rival Astros, the defending World Champions, in a classic seven-game AL Championship Series, in which the road team won every game.

In the World Series, they drew the Arizona Diamondbacks, a Cinderella team that sneaked into the playoffs with an 84-78 record. They swept the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card round, destroyed the 100-62 NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers in a Division Series before taking down the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies in a seven-game classic NLCS.

Game 1 in Texas last Friday set the tone, as Texas came back from 5-3 deficit to pull out a 6-5 win. Corey Seager blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie it at 5 before Adolis Garcia won it in the 11th with a solo homer.

After Arizona responded with a 9-1 win in Game 2, the series shifted to Chase Field, and Texas did what they mastered and took all three games there, 3-1, 11-7, and 5-0, to clinch the championship.

The number of ex-Mets and Yankees who won a ring with the Rangers this season is astonishing: Jordan Montgomery, Nathan Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Travis Jankowski, and Aroldis Chapman. Though they never played for the Yankees, Josh Smith, Ezequiel Duran, and Glenn Otto count because they were prospects sent over in the Joey Gallo trade in 2021.

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