Without Adolis García, without Max Scherzer, without Jacob deGrom, the Texas Rangers are one win from glory, from their first World Series title, from shedding their trivia-answer status as MLB’s oldest franchise without a ring.
The Rangers turned Game 5 at Chase Field into an elimination game by crushing the Arizona Diamondbacks early in Game 4, then white-knuckling it through the last two innings as the bullpen melted. By the time Christian Walker’s pop fly settled into Texas first baseman Nathaniel Lowe’s mitt in foul territory for the third out of the ninth inning, the Rangers won 11-7 and owned some history.
They are the only team to go 10-0 on the road in a postseason.
They are also the only team to score the first 10 runs of a World Series game, all with two outs.
Those 10 runs came in the first three innings, as the Rangers took the roadmap Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo had scripted to 27 outs in a bullpen game and shredded it. They hit for the cycle in the second inning to score five runs, then added five more in the third. Josh Jung had three hits. Corey Seager doubled and homered, driving in five runs. Marcus Semien tripled and homered. Travis Jankowski, the injury replacement for Adolis García, singled and doubled. Left-hander Andrew Heaney handled his business, tossing five innings of one-run baseball while operating with a double-digit lead.
The Diamondbacks showed fight. Ryne Nelson allowed one run in extended relief, turning a bullpen game on its head as Arizona used four pitchers in the first three innings and then one for the next 5 1/3. The Diamondbacks out-hit the Rangers, 12 to 11. They scored six runs across the eighth and ninth innings, persuading Rangers manager Bruce Bochy to bring in closer José Leclerc to secure the last out. They made it close enough to wonder what might have been if …
… Miguel Castro had dotted his two-strike changeup to Leody Taveras in the second inning rather than burying it for a wild pitch, giving the Rangers the game’s first run (then four more).
… Gold Glove first baseman Walker had turned an inning-ending double play in the third instead of dropping the ball on the transfer, sparking another five-run frame.
Only six teams have ever come back from a 3-1 World Series deficit: the 1925 Pirates, the 1958 Yankees, the 1968 Tigers, the 1979 Pirates, the 1985 Royals and the 2016 Cubs. To do so, the Diamondbacks will need to go through Rangers starters Nathan Eovaldi, Jordan Montgomery and Jon Gray in Games 5, 6 and 7. Arizona will counter with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt. They have their work cut out for them. The first step is ensuring the series goes back to Arlington.