November 2, 2023

WS 5: Texas 5, Diamondbacks 0

Texas   – 000 000 104 – 5  9  0
Arizona – 000 000 000 - 0 5 1
After six innings of a pitchers' duel that included Arizona's Zac Gallen throwing six no-hit innings, Texas finally broke through with three hits and the game's first run. Texas scored four more times in the ninth. The Diamondbacks, who had five hits and six walks, failed to get a big hit, leaving nine men on base in the first five innings. They had only two runners in the final four innings.

Texas' 5-0 win in Game 5 was its 11th consecutive road victory in this postseason (11-0; they were 2-4 at home) and gave the franchise its first World Series championship. The team began as the expansion Washington Senators (2.0) in 1961 before moving to Texas in 1972. So . . . it's Texas's first title in 52 years and the first title in the franchise's 63 years.

Texas, which tied for first atop the AL West, was the American League's fifth seed (I hate using that term in relation to baseball) and is the lowest playoff seed to win the World Series . . . so far. They tied for the sixth-most wins in MLB. Arizona was tied for 12th.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Corey Seager – who ended Gallen's no-hit dreams – was voted MVP. He went 6-for-21 (.286) with home runs in three of the five games, one double, three walks, six RBIs and six runs scored. He's the fourth player to win the award twice, joining Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson. (The award was introduced in 1955.)

Texas, which lost 102 games in 2021, became the third team to win the World Series within two seasons of losing 100+ games, joining Boston's NL team in 1914 and the 1969 Mets. 

The Diamondbacks squandered numerous chances to score in the first five innings, leaving three men at third base and four at second. Nathan Eovaldi (6-4-0-5-5, 97) continually got his team into and out of trouble and became the first pitcher to win four road starts in a single postseason.

In the early innings, it looked like it would be Arizona's night, if they could get a few runs. Gallen (6.1-3-1-1-6, 83) breezed through the first four innings, throwing only 35 pitches (13-7-7-8). The Diamondbacks' night of batting woes began right away. In the first inning, Corbin Carroll walked and stole second. He was on third with one out, but Gabriel Moreno and Tommy Pham both grounded to shortstop. Events in the second were similar. Lourdes Gurriel opened with a single and took second on a groundout. Eovaldi then got Evan Longoria to line to left and Geraldo Perdomo to fly to right.

Carroll began the third with a single and was trying to steal second again when Ketel Marte took ball four. (Marte walked three times and his postseason hitting streak ended at 20 games.) A bunt put runners on second and third. Christian Walker fanned on a 96 mph fastball just off the middle of the plate and Pham poked a routine grounder to short. You couldn't help but think there was a good chance these LOB-tomies would haunt the Diamondbacks.

With two outs in the fourth, after Longoria's pop fly down the right field line landed fair for a double, Perdomo struck out looking. A walk, single, stolen base, and another walk loaded the bases for Arizona with two outs in the fifth, but Gurriel stranded all three runners by grounding out to short.

Gallen retired the first 14 batters before issuing a walk. Seager got Texas' first hit leading off the seventh: an opposite field single to left through the third baseman's vacated spot (Longoria was playing well over by shortstop).

Evan Carter followed with a double to right and Mitch Garver's groundball single to center gave Texas a 1-0 lead. The three hits came in a span of only five pitches, and after Gallen struck out Josh Jung, his night was over.

The night was pretty much over for the Arizona bats, as well. Aroldis Chapman issued a one-out walk in the seventh and Josh Sborz gave up a single with two down in the eighth. Neither runners advanced and those were the Diamondbacks' last two baserunners.

Texas left the bases loaded in the eigthth. Facing Paul Seward in the ninth, Jung and Nathaniel Lowe singled. Jonah Heim also singled and an error by Alek Thomas in center scored two runs. Seward got two outs, but Marcus Semien hit a two-run shot to left-center for two more runs.

Here are the five current teams without a World Series championships.
Padres 1969 Lost in 1984 and 1998
Brewers 1970 Lost in 1982
Mariners 1977 Never played in a WS
Rockies 1993 Lost in 2007
Rays 1998 Lost in 2008 and 2020

November 1, 2023

WS 4: Texas 11, Diamondbacks 7

Texas   – 055 000 010 – 11 11  0
Arizona – 000 100 042 - 7 12 1
After making history by becoming the first team to score 5+ runs in consecutive innings in a World Series game, Texas went on to beat Arizona 11-7 in Game 4 and is now one win away from its first championship.

Texas was without Adolis García's bat in its lineup, but that hardly mattered on Tuesday evening. The AL champs hit for the cycle in the second inning, grabbing a 5-0 lead. Josh Jung doubled and after Nathaniel Lowe struck out, the Diamondbacks went to the pen. Miguel Castro relieved starter Joe Mantiply (1.1-1-1-1-1, 28) and got the second out. But then Leody Taveras walked and Travis Jankowski singled in one run. Marcus Semien tripled into the left field corner (the ball got past Lourdes Gurriel, who stumbled after it). Kyle Nelson took over on the mound and for some reason, Arizona decided to pitch to Corey Seager. The soon-to-be-named WS MVP crushed a 1-0 pitch to deep center. When his third home run of the WS landed 431 feet away, Texas led 5-0.

With one out in the third, Jung got things started again. He singled to left, Lowe grounded a single to center. The Diamondbacks tried their luck with another pitcher: Luis Frías. Jonah Heim reached on an infield error by first baseman Christian Walker, who bobbled a ground ball and ended up unable to make a play. Frías struck out Taveras but, again, that third was elusive. Jankowski doubled home two runs and Semien hit a three-run dong to left.

Texas led 10-0, having scored all 10 runs with two outs. The only team to score more runs with two outs in a WS game is the 2007 Red Sox, with 11 in Game 1. The Dodgers also scored 11 two-out runs in Game 3 of the 2020 NLCS.

The Yankees are the only other team to score 5+ runs in two innings of a World Series game (Game 2 in 1936 and Game 5 in 1961).

No one is watching this World Series. Game 1 was the least-watched WS opener since records have been kept (AP: "since at least 1969"). Games 2 and 3 were the least-watched games ever, according to Nielsen records. . . . I fear this state of affairs may inspire Rob "I Hate Baseball" Manfred to invent some more shitass gimmicks to fuck up the game and make even more loyal fans turn away from the game they loved.

After three innings, I was busy with trick-or-treaters and although I checked in on the game a few times, I never went back to my scorecard. I'm assuming the final score made the game seem a lot closer than it was. Texas is now 10-0 on the road in this postseason, which is a record; the 1937-42 and 1996-97 Yankees had each won nine.

No team had hit for the cycle in a World Series inning since Atlanta did it in 1991 -- in the fourth and eighth innings (!) of Game 5. Texas also homered in its 16th consecutive postseason game (all this season), the third-longest streak of all-time. They can tie Arizona (2007-23) at 17 games tonight. The 2019-22 Yankees hold the record at 23 games.

Sarah Langs has a few more "fun facts" (which have been slightly rewritten):
Corey Seager has homered in consecutive WS games. At least one player has homered in back-to-back games in each of the last eight World Series. The last time it didn't happen was 2015.

Texas is the 10th team to hit for the cycle in a World Series inning. During the regular season, it happened 19 times, but none of those were by Texas.

Texas had 10 runs by the end of the third inning. That's the third-most runs scored through the first three innings of a World Series game, behind only the 2001 Diamondbacks (Game 6, against the MFY!) and the 1968 Tigers (Game 6), with 12 each.

Texas is also 10-0 when they score first this postseason. That's tied for the longest win streak within a single postseason when scoring first, along with the 2004 Red Sox, 2018 Red Sox, 2012 Giants, 2017 Astros, and 1998 Yankees.

Ketel Marte's postseason hitting streak is now at 20 games. With 16 straight this postseason, Marte broke a tie with Alcides Escobar at 15 in 2015 for the longest single-postseason hitting streak. Marte has also (of course) reached base in all 20 postseason games he has played. That's the third-longest on-base streak to start a postseason career, behind only Boog Powell (25 games, 1966-71) and Daniel Murphy (21, 2015-17).