Alton GonzalezESPN staff writer6 minutes of reading
Phoenix — Max Scherzer found Adolis Garcia in a scuffle near the Chase Field pitchers’ mound Wednesday night — minutes after the Texas Rangers’ first championship in Texas history, 5-0, when all the feelings were still fresh — and hugged him. So tight it felt like he would never let go.
Just 28 hours earlier, the Rangers learned they would have to win two more World Series games without Scherzer and Garcia, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries in Game 3. They promptly did just that, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks by winning games. 4 and 5 in their building, spoke about what many have long believed to be the most important feature of this high-priced, decorated group of players:
No matter what happens, they’re going to find a way.
“It was a total team effort to win the World Series,” Scherzer said. “It was never a boy.”
The latest guy was Nathan Ewaldi, a 33-year-old right-hander who battled shaky command, worked his way through a pile of trouble and somehow evened Jack Gallen through six scoreless innings, tying the score up to the Rangers’ deep lineup. Finally managed to break through.
Mitch Carver got the Rangers going with an RBI single in the seventh and Marcus Siemian put the game away with a two-run homer in the ninth.
Semien looked back at his own dugout and roared as he touched first base. He knew at that moment — the Rangers were on their way to their first championship in the franchise’s 63-year history.
“This is the vision, isn’t it?” Rangers shortstop Corey Seager said after winning the World Series MVP trophy for the second time in his career. “I’m at a loss for words, but it’s a very special moment.”
The Rangers completed the best postseason in their history with an unprecedented 11-0 record on the road. It helped them become just the third team in baseball history to win the World Series within two seasons of losing more than 100 games, joining the 1969 New York Mets and the 1914 Boston Braves.
Texas lost 102 games in 2021 and responded by spending $500 million on Semien and Seager the following season. A year later, they beefed up their rotation — signing Eovaldi, Jacob deGrom and Andrew Heaney — and fired three-time champion Bruce Bochy as their manager.
Bochy became the sixth manager with four or more World Series titles, joining Joe McCarthy (7), Casey Stengel (7), Connie Mack (5), Joe Torre (4) and Walter Alston (4). His steady presence has been invaluable to a team that has faced constant adversity.
The Rangers were plagued by injuries throughout their lineup and throughout their pitching staff. DeGrom, signed to a $185 million contract, underwent Tommy John surgery. Scherzer, a mid-season acquisition to carry Rangers through October, suffered a shoulder injury that put his entire season in question. Seager, Ewald, Mitch Carver, Jonah Heim, Josh Jung, John Gray, Josh Spurs and Jose Leclerc are all on the injured list.
The Rangers lost eight games in a row in mid-August and six of their first seven in early September. They held a 2 1/2-game lead in their division in the regular-season finale, then lost three of four to the Seattle Mariners, including the final, and fell on the final day in the American League West. wild card.
It somehow sparked seven straight playoff victories, eliminating the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays and the 101-win Baltimore Orioles and taking a 2-0 lead over the defending-champion Houston Astros.
When they lost three straight home games in the AL Championship Series, they responded by winning back-to-back games in Houston, their first medal since the 2011 World Series disappointment. In Game 1 of the World Series when they trailed the Diamondbacks by two runs in the ninth inning, they battled all the way, with a game-tying home run from Seager and, in extras, a walk-off home run from Garcia. And when they lost Scherzer (back spasms) and Garcia (oblique strain) in Game 3, they responded with one of their most dominant performances in Game 4, scoring 10 runs in the third inning, all with two outs.
Game 5 further showcased their moxie. The Diamondbacks put at least one baserunner on base in each of the first five innings, but Ewaldi kept getting out of the jam, including a bases-loaded one in the fifth, keeping the game scoreless until the Rangers’ offense broke through against Galen. His no-hit bid in the seventh.
Eovaldi lowered his career ERA in potential series-clinchers to 1.03, the third-lowest mark in history.
Seager led off with a single through the empty third base. Evan Carter, the rookie sensation, doubles to right field. Carver put the Rangers on the board and fired up the middle. The Rangers broke the game open with four runs in the ninth. Heim singled on a ball that snuck under Alec Thomas’ glove, scoring two runs, and Siemian followed with his own two-run homer.
This is the moment he envisioned when he agreed to work with Seager 24 months ago.
“Everybody in the room loved it,” Semien said. “We all play for this. We don’t play for any accolades or anything. We play for this. We’ve learned that if you get into the playoffs, get hot, get pitchers, anybody can win this thing.”
About half an hour after the final was recorded, Chase Field was still half-filled with Rangers fans who stayed to watch the trophy presentation. Many of them chanted “Brews” when Bochy was presented with the World Series trophy. Later, inside the visiting clubhouse, Creed’s “Higher” became a rallying cry for the team, blaring from the speakers over cigar smoke and champagne.
At one point, Scherzer walked up to senior infielder Brad Miller, handed him the trophy, and instructed him to hold it high and look at his reflection from the bottom.
“Wow!” Miller said in surprise.
The Rangers finally did it.
“It’s unreal,” said Bochy, now the four-time champion manager. “A year ago I was sitting on a recliner. I can’t tell you how blessed I am to be in this position.”