LIVE: D-backs vs. Rangers World Series Game 1 on FOX

October 27th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Two years removed from triple-digit losses, mere weeks removed from midseason messes and having overcome unsightly seeding and last year’s pennant winners, the Rangers and D-backs now meet in a World Series showdown that is as exciting as it was unlikely.

Few could have forecast that the American League champion Rangers and the National League champion D-backs would be facing each other on Friday night in Game 1 of the Fall Classic at Globe Life Field. Not just in 2021, when the Rangers lost 102 games and the D-backs dropped 110. But at the start of this postseason, when fifth-seeded Texas and sixth-seeded Arizona began what looked to be an arduous road through October to reach the World Series.

“We love proving naysayers wrong,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of his squad, which overcame a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series against the Phillies.

There was plenty of nay to say when the D-backs went 16-34 in a 50-game stretch from June 13 to Aug. 11. Or when the Rangers went 4-16 from Aug. 16 to Sept. 8 to fall into third place in the AL West, only to rise back to the top … only to drop the division to the defending World Series champion Astros in Game 162.

“This team has played with so much heart and determination as any club I’ve had,” said Texas skipper Bruce Bochy. “It’s just amazing how they kept getting up.”

The 68-year-old Bochy, a three-time World Series winner with the San Francisco Giants, came out of retirement and paused his inevitable Hall of Fame induction for just this sort of opportunity. He was a steadying hand when the Rangers’ even bigger offseason acquisition -- Jacob deGrom -- got injured early in the year.

Though the deGrom investment has not yet bore fruit, the Rangers have been rewarded for supporting an emerging core with big-ticket items like free-agent signings Corey Seager, Marcus Semien and Nathan Eovaldi and midseason trade acquisitions Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman. Texas took down the 99-win Rays and the 101-win Orioles, then dispatched the mighty Astros with four road wins in the ALCS.

As for the D-backs, they rode an outlandish rookie season from Corbin Carroll and a dynamic one-two rotation punch of Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly to a rise in relevance this season. And they saved their best ball for October, where their high-energy style that played up in the new rules environment was amplified in sweeps of the division champion Brewers and Dodgers, followed by a stunning comeback against the Phils that was capped with wins in one of the most difficult road environments in MLB at Citizens Bank Park.

So now we have a surprise series in which the only thing really worth predicting is that a Wild Card winner will walk away with the Commissioner’s Trophy for the eighth time since 1997. To attempt to project much more than that is ultimately a disservice to two teams that defy projections and very much live for the moment.

And Game 1 will be a big one.

When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 1 is live now from Globe Life Field, airing on FOX.

Games are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.

Who are the probable starting pitchers?
D-backs: RHP
Gallen will be going from starting the All-Star Game to starting Game 1 of the World Series, a feat last done by the Red Sox's Chris Sale in 2018. After winning his starts in the Wild Card and Division Series, Gallen stumbled a bit in the NLCS. The D-backs lost both of his starts, with Gallen allowing a combined nine runs on 14 hits and four walks over 11 innings.

Still, he is their ace, a pitcher who won 17 games during the regular season while posting a 3.47 ERA across 210 innings. Since he was not needed in relief in NLCS Game 7, Gallen will be pitching on five days' rest.

Rangers: RHP
There was thought that Jordan Montgomery would go in Game 1, but the Rangers tabbed Eovaldi instead. The right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings to win Game 6 of the ALCS and won Game 2 of the same series with six strong innings, both in Houston. He carries a 4-0 record with a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings in the 2023 postseason.

What are the starting lineups?
D-backs: Lovullo hasn’t been shy about tweaking his lineup when he feels the offense needs a spark. The only swap from Game 7 of the ALCS was to swap Carroll and Marte at the top of the order. (The two have both seen time in the leadoff spot this October.)

Rangers: Bochy has settled into a routine lineup against right-handed pitchers, with rookie sensation Evan Carter in the three-hole, Mitch Garver in the five-hole, and Josh Jung and Leody Taveras in the eight and nine spots. Garver was deemed available despite being hit in the ribs with a pitch in Game 7 of the ALCS.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
D-backs: If Arizona can take an early lead, Lovullo’s bullpen blueprint is fairly predictable. He’ll use Joe Mantiply and Andrew Saalfrank to neutralize big lefty bats, then he will fill in the gaps with right-handers Ryan Thompson, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald. Thompson, who was signed in August after being released by the Rays, has shown an ability to pitch an inning-plus when needed.

Rangers: Bochy has savvily handled the bullpen this postseason after continuous struggles throughout the regular season. The high-leverage trio of Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman and José Leclerc has held things down, but when other relievers were needed, it resulted in two losses to the Astros in the ALCS. The Rangers have continued to use starters Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford and Martín Pérez out of the bullpen long relief when needed.

Any injuries of note?
D-backs: Outfielder Jake McCarthy was removed from the roster just before Game 1 of the Wild Card Series after suffering a strained right oblique. He is not expected back.

Rangers: Garver was removed from Game 7 of the ALCS after being hit by a 96 mph fastball from Astros reliever Bryan Abreu in the sixth inning. He got X-rays midgame, but no further update was provided. 

Reliever Jonathan Hernández has been left off every postseason roster due to a right lat strain, an injury that Bochy said was sustained during Game 162, when Hernández tossed one perfect inning with two strikeouts in Texas’ 1-0 loss to Seattle.

Who’s hot, who’s not?
D-backs: Marte, the NLCS MVP, has hit safely in 16 straight postseason games (dating back to 2017). That 16-game hitting streak is the fourth longest in MLB postseason history, behind only the 17-game streaks of Derek Jeter, Hank Bauer and Manny Ramirez. After registering just three hits in the first six games of the NLCS, likely NL Rookie of the Year Carroll tallied three in Game 7. He also swiped two bases, his first steals since Game 3 of the NL Division Series. 

Walker had a quiet NLCS, finishing 2-for-22 with one extra-base hit and two RBIs.

Rangers: García treated Minute Maid Park as his personal playground in Game 7, cementing his ALCS MVP Award after giving the Rangers one of their strongest, most decisive wins of the postseason. The right fielder was 4-for-5 in the clincher, and he has an RBI in six straight games, the longest streak in a single postseason series since RBIs became an official stat in 1920.

Seager was also nails in Game 7, going 3-for-5 with a double and a homer.

Most of the Rangers’ offense is clicking. Taveras is one of the few outliers after going 0-for-5 in the pennant clincher.