The World Series is underway, and it already looks like we’ve got a good one on our hands! The Diamondbacks had their ace on the hill and a prime opportunity to get one win closer to the most unlikely title in recent memory, but the Rangers aren’t a team that goes down without a fight, and they sure didn’t tonight, with a comeback win, 6-5, in 11 innings.
Let’s see what happened:
If you were hoping to see some fireworks in the early going, you got your wish. Nathan Eovaldi came out in the top of the first inning looking all the part of a guy who’s already dominated under the bright lights of the World Series, setting Arizona down 1-2-3. Zac Gallen, however, very much looked like a first-timer at the outset. After Corey Seager reached on a walk in the home half, 20-year-old rookie Evan Carter drove in the Fall Classic’s first run, smoking a double into the right-center field gap.
One hitter later, the home crowd was going wild with a 2-0 lead as Adolis García tied David Freese’s all-time record with his 21st RBI of the postseason.
After Eovaldi punched out the side in the second, the momentum was firmly in the Rangers’ favor, but the bottom of Arizona’s nominally-weak lineup got a spark going in the third when Alek Thomas led off with a single, and Evan Longoria did the same. Eovaldi’s fastball was electric tonight, and he had little trouble filling up the strike zone, but he left just a few too many splitters and curveballs elevated and in hittable areas to come away unscathed. Here, the combination of a hung splitter and a misjudged route in center field led to a game-tying triple off of Corbin Carroll’s bat.
Carroll then did as he had the last two games of the NLCS and gave Arizona their first lead of the game, beating Nathaniel Lowe’s throw home on a chopper to first base, on which Lowe probably should’ve just taken the out. And that play was reflective of a game in which, generally speaking, the Diamondbacks saw most of the biggest breaks go their way.
Gallen has thrown more than 230 innings to this point, far and away the highest total of his career, and it’s not a shock that his command has begun to falter much more routinely in his last few starts. The fatigue-induced control issues manifested in the worst way in the third inning, when Gallen walked Seager for the second straight time and, following another Carter hit, loaded the bases and even walked in a run with free passes to García and Mitch Garver. Again, though, breaks fell the Snakes’ way: All the above happened with two outs on the board, and all it took was a well-timed mound visit (and well-thrown changeup) to get a Jonah Heim fly out and end the jam with the score still tied.
The momentum was back with Texas, but it wouldn’t stay there for long. Remember what I said about Eovaldi leaving some of those off-speed pitches just a little too high in the zone? Tommy Pham’ll take it.
Wham bam, Pham gave Arizona a 4-3 lead before four innings were even halfway done. The fireworks did slow down quite a bit after that: Eovaldi set down three straight hitters after Pham, and after his control scare in the third inning, Gallen settled down for two more scoreless frames to bring his final line to three runs on five innings. The same could not be said for Eovaldi, who allowed the Snakes to tack on an insurance run when small-ball king Geraldo Perdomo singled, stole second, and scored on NLCS MVP Ketel Marte’s RBI double, a hit that also gave Marte a share of the all-time postseason record with a 17-game hit streak, dating all the way back to Arizona’s last October cameo, a 2017 NLDS loss to the Dodgers.
Anyhow, Sox fans were treated to a Dane Dunning appearance in relief of Eovaldi, which began a game of bullpen chicken in which two excellent units traded blows, unsure of who would blink first. The answer? Neither of them would: Dunning, Cody Bradford, and Jon Gray combined for 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings of work on Texas’ side, allowing just a couple of baserunners among them and not letting Arizona give anyone the impression that more runs were coming. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks let loose the same at-this-point predictable bullpen quartet that’s been giving the NL hell all month. There’s as good a chance as not you hadn’t heard of any of Ryan Thompson, Joe Mantiply, Kevin Ginkel, or Paul Sewald before the last few weeks, but they entered tonight having allowed a run in just three of 31 combined postseason appearances, and after the first three contributed shutout innings in relief of Gallen tonight, Sewald had a chance to make it three for 35.
Instead, he walked the leadoff hitter, and then had to face Seager, who seems to have his eyes fixed on becoming the fourth player with multiple World Series MVP awards.
To extras we went! Texas closer José Leclerc worked two scoreless innings to give the Rangers a shot to win in the bottom of the 10th and 11th, and luckily for them, they had their leading RBI guy coming to the plate in the latter inning. After four scoreless outs from Kyle Nelson, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo went with Miguel Castro to try to keep García off the bases, and García instead decided that he’d be the last one to run the bases all night, cranking an opposite-field blast to win it:
For anybody counting at home, that’s postseason RBI number 22 for Adolis, breaking a record that was set 12 years ago today, when Freese kept the Cardinals’ title hopes alive against these very Rangers.
We’ll return to Arlington tomorrow evening, as the Texas looks to taking an intimidating (but, as we just saw, not necessarily fatal) 2-0 series lead, while Arizona will look to split and at least give themselves home-field advantage heading back to the desert (or the desert that’s a bit further west than the one in Texas, I suppose) for games 3-5. Merrill Kelly is scheduled to take the ball for the visitors, while unexpected ace Jordan Montgomery gets the nod for Texas. First pitch is once again at 7:03 p.m. CT, and we’ll see you there!