By Hal McCoy
The Texas Rangers exorcised the ghost of 2011 Wednesday night in one of the most bizarre elimination games in the 119-year history of the World Series.
The Rangers won their first World Series championship in franchise history, a franchise that was born in 1972, blanking the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-0.
That gave first-year Texas manager Bruce Bochy his fourth World Series ring, the first manager to win four World Series while managing two different teams.
The ghost? In 2011, the Rangers were within one strike — not once, but twice — of winning the World Series. Both times the St. Louis Cardinals won and yanked the trophy out of the Rangers’ hands.
And if that 5-0 score sounds as if it was easy for the Rangers, it was far from it.
Before the game, Arizona manager Torey Lovullo told starting pitcher Zac Gallen, “Don’t try to be Hercules.”
He was Hercules, Zeus and Apollo all wrapped into one stout body. Gallen pitched six no-hit innings and retired 18 of 19. He retired the first 14 until issuing a two-out walk to Nathaniel Lowe in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi gave Arizona chance after chance after chance to score. And they never did.
The D-Backs put their leadoff hitters on base in the first three innings, their first two on in the third, and didn’t score.
After five innings they had stranded nine runners and were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position as Eovaldi ducked out of more pending disasters than any pitcher should be able to accomplish.
What he accomplished was a win that gave him a 5-0 postseason record and Texas won all six games he started. He is the first pitcher to win five postseason games in one year.
“I didn’t really help myself out at times and other times they put together quality at bats,” said Eovaldi. “We were able to come out on top. That’s the main thing. I just use a do-it mentality. I try to prepare mentally, keep a positive mind and go out there and attack, attack, attack.”
Gallen’s magic went up in a puff of hits in the seventh inning. The no-hitter, of course, was broken up by Corey Seager. He opened the inning by punching a single to left field.
And he was named the Series MVP, joining Reggie Jackson as the only position players to win it twice. Seager won it in 2020 while playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In this five-game series, won by the Rangers four games to one, he hit .286 with three home runs.
Evan Carter followed Seager’s single with a double to right center and Mitch Garver singled up the middle to score Seager for a 1-0 lead.
That was the omen the Rangers needed. They finished 11-0 when they scored first in the postseason.
And it stayed 1-0 until the ninth when the Rangers tucked it away with four runs against Arizona closer Paul Sewald, punctuated by Marcus Semien’s two-run home run.
It was the 16th straight postseason games in which the Rangers hit at least one home run.
Semien, usually a sedate fellow, did the Lindy Hop all aroud the bases after his home run.
“Everything I’ve work for was for this moment,” said Semien. “It was a crazy game. . .we were getting no-hit through six innings.
“Gallen was unbelievable tonight but we came through,” he added. “Once Corey (Seager) got that first hit, we all kinda looked up.”
The Rangers won 11 straight postseason road games, a franchise record for the regular season and the postseason, a postseason record.
The D-Backs were given every opportunity to score first. They were 7-0 this postseason when they scored first.
—Corbin Carroll opened the home first with a four-pitch walk and stole second on the first pitch. He moved to third on a ground ball. He stayed on third on anoher ground ball. Christian Walker walked, but Tommy Pfam grounded to shorstop. No runs, one hit, one walk, two left on. Still 0-0.
—Lourdes Gurriel Jr. opened the second with a single and took second on a ground ball. But center fielder Leody Taveras made a diving, grass-top catch on Evan Longoria and Gerald Perdomo lined to right. No runs, one hit, one left on. Still 0-0.
—Carrolll opened the third with a single and Ketel Marte walked. Gabriel Moreno bunted the runners to second and third. Walker struck out and Pfam once again grounded to short. No runs, one hit, one walk, two left on. Still 0-0.
—Longoria doubled on a bloop to right with two outs in the fourth, but Perdomo took a called third strike. No runs, one hit, one left. Still 0-0.
—Marte walked with one out in the fifth. With two outs, Walker singled and Pfam walked, loading the bases. Gurriel grounded to shortstop. No runs, one hit, two walks, three left on. Still 0-0.
In three of the five threatening innings, the last out was on a ground ball to shortstop Seager.
Eovaldi finally went 1-2-3 in the sixth and his teammates got him the run in the sixth.
Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman started the seventh and issued a one-out walk. He struck out Moreno on a 101 miles an hour fastball, the second out.
Josh Sborz replaced Chapman and he retired Walker on a line drive to center.
And Sborz took it from there, the final 2 1/3 innings of no runs, one hit, no walks and four strikeouts.
His final strikeout, a called strike on Marte, ended the game, touching off the usual on-field exuberance, something Rangers fans have waited 51 years to happen.