COREY Seager took a mighty hack and barely connected, sending a dribbler through an open area on the left side of the infield for his team’s first hit in the seventh inning.
The Texas Rangers shortstop and World Series MVP provided plenty of power throughout a stellar October run. But it was a little good fortune that finally sparked the offense and sent the Rangers to their first title.
Considering the heartache this club went through 12 years ago in one of the all-time Fall Classic gut punches, Texas was certainly due.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched six gritty innings, Mitch Garver broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single in the seventh and the Rangers won the first World Series championship in their 63-season franchise history by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0 in Game 5 on Wednesday night (Thursday morning, Nov. 2, 2023, PH time).
Marcus Semien homered in a four-run ninth and the Rangers, held hitless for six innings by Zac Gallen, finished a record 11-0 on the road this postseason after capping the Fall Classic with three straight wins in the desert.
“Everything I’ve ever worked for is for this moment,” Semien said. “Gallen was unbelievable tonight. But we came through. Once Corey got the first hit, everybody kind of woke up. Pitching was unbelievable.”
In his first season with Texas, manager Bruce Bochy won his fourth title 13 years to the day after his first, which came in 2010 when the Giants beat the Rangers. He also won rings with San Francisco in 2012 and 2014.
“I was sitting in a recliner there in Nashville, just enjoying myself,” said the 68-year-old Bochy, who came out of retirement to take over the Rangers.
Bochy helped exorcise some unpleasant memories for Texas fans, who watched as their team came agonizingly close to a title in 2011, needing just one strike on two occasions before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.
One night after the Rangers built a 10-run lead by the third inning in Game 4, they finished off baseball’s third all-wild card World Series by outlasting Arizona in a white-knuckle pitchers’ duel.
Gallen carried a no-hitter into the seventh before giving up an opposite-field single to Seager, whose weak grounder found a hole. Rangers rookie Evan Carter — all of 21 years old — followed with a double. Garver then delivered the first run, pumping his fist as a hard grounder up the middle scored Seager.
Garver was 1 for 17 at the plate in the Series before his huge hit.
With the Rangers clinging to that 1-0 lead, Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe singled off Paul Sewald to start the ninth. Jung scored on Jonah Heim’s single, and Lowe came all the way around from first base when center fielder Alek Thomas let the ball get past him for an error.
Two outs later, Semien’s two-run homer made it 5-0. It was the 13th time Texas scored at least three runs in an inning this postseason.
Meanwhile, on the mound, Eovaldi wriggled out of trouble all night before Aroldis Chapman and Josh Sborz finished it.
“I kind of joked around: I don’t know how many rabbits I have in my hat,” said Eovaldi, who improved to 5-0 with a 2.95 ERA this postseason. “I didn’t really do a great job tonight in attacking the zone. But our defense, incredible again.”
Sborz struck out four in 2 1/3 innings of one-hit relief for his first postseason save. He threw a called third strike past Ketel Marte for the final out, and jubilant Texas players rushed toward the mound to celebrate after becoming the first team to win a World Series game despite having no hits or runs through six innings.
It’s the first title for the Rangers, whose history dates back to 1961 when they were the expansion Washington Senators. They moved to Texas for the 1972 season.
Now, after five stadiums, roughly two dozen managers and 10,033 games, the Rangers are finally champions.