The adage of being hot at the right time has long been a prominent element of postseason baseball. Look no further than the Rangers, who started off the 2023 postseason with seven straight wins to put them within two games of a World Series appearance.
With their loss in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Astros, the Rangers fell just short of the all-time record of eight straight wins to start a postseason.
Here's a look at every team that opened the playoffs with at least six consecutive victories (it's important to note that before the divisional era began in 1969, there were no postseason rounds before the World Series, so teams from before then won't make this list).
2014 Royals: 8 games
Lost in World Series
The Royals were on the brink of elimination in the first postseason game they played in 2014, finding themselves trailing the A's, 7-3, with five outs remaining in the Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium. That's when a three-run rally in the eighth inning got Kansas City back into the contest before Nori Aoki brought in Jarrod Dyson with a game-tying sacrifice fly with two outs in the ninth. Oakland regained the lead with a run in the 12th, but Kansas City came back again, winning it on a Salvador Perez walk-off single.
From there, the Royals, in the postseason for the first time in 29 years, continued their extra-inning magic with a pair of 11-inning wins on the road against the Angels in the AL Division Series, followed by an 8-3 victory to sweep the series in Kansas City. Next up were the Orioles in the ALCS, and the Royals swept Baltimore with another extra-inning victory and two one-run games among the four wins. Lorenzo Cain was named MVP of the series after hitting .533 with a pair of doubles.
The first blemish on Kansas City's postseason resume that October came in Game 1 of the World Series against the Giants. San Francisco jumped out to a big lead early and left-hander Madison Bumgarner, in a sign of things to come, held the Royals' lineup to one run over seven innings in a 7-1 Giants victory.
The Royals won the next two, but the Giants came back and won Games 4 and 5. Kansas City routed San Francisco, 10-0, in Game 6 to force a winner-take-all contest the next night in Kansas City. Bumgarner came out of the bullpen and was just too much for the Royals, tossing five scoreless innings to clinch a second World Series title in three years for the Giants.
2023 Rangers: 7 games
Lead ALCS, 2-1
In his first year as Rangers manager, Bruce Bochy led the club to its first postseason appearance in seven years. With Texas in search of its first World Series championship, the venerable skipper has continued to work his playoff magic with his team winning its first seven games -- the Rangers swept their AL Wild Card Series with two wins over the Rays, swept their AL Division Series with three victories over the 101-win Orioles and then took the first two games of the all-Texas AL Championship Series against the Astros before losing Game 3.
It's familiar territory for Bochy, who already has four NL pennants and three World Series titles on his managerial resume (1998 NL pennant with the Padres, and World Series wins in 2010, '12 and '14 with the Giants).
While the Rangers were known during the regular season primarily for their prolific offense, the pitching -- particularly a bullpen that struggled in the regular season -- has shined brightly under the bright October lights thus far.
2022 Astros: 7 games
Won World Series
The Astros played a hard-fought series with the Mariners in the ALDS, winning the first two games by a combined margin of three runs before a record-setting 18-inning contest in Game 3, when rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña launched a solo homer that sent Houston into the ALCS for a league-record sixth consecutive year.
The ALCS was a long-anticipated showdown with the Yankees, but Astros pitching shut down New York's lineup, holding the Yanks to just nine runs in four games on the way to their fourth World Series appearance in the last six seasons. Peña remained the star of the show in that series, hitting two home runs -- including a game-tying three-run homer in Game 4 -- and earning ALCS MVP honors.
Houston's unbeaten run came to an end in Game 1 of the World Series, in which the Phillies erased a 5-0 deficit to stun the Astros with a 6-5 victory in 10 innings, but Houston was ultimately successful in its pursuit of a title, taking the World Series from the Phillies in six games.
2020 Braves: 7 games
Lost in NLCS
Following the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season, the Braves swept the Reds in the Wild Card Series. Game 1 was scoreless into the 13th before Freddie Freeman delivered a walk-off single. Atlanta swept the best-of-three set with a 5-0 win in Game 2, holding Cincinnati scoreless for the series.
Next, the Braves swept the NLDS against the Marlins, outscoring Miami, 18-5. Along with the pitching staff, Travis d'Arnaud (.600, two doubles and two home runs) and Dansby Swanson (.400, a double and two homers) were the series heroes.
Next came a thrilling seven-game NLCS against the Dodgers, in which the Braves jumped out to a 3-1 series lead before Los Angeles reeled off three straight wins to advance to the World Series, where it defeated the Rays in six games. Freeman (.360) and Ozzie Albies (.333) each hit over .300 with a pair of homers in the series, but it wasn't enough to push Atlanta into the Fall Classic.
2007 Rockies: 7 games
Lost in World Series
With a 13-7 loss to the D-backs on Sept. 1, 2007, the Rockies were 69-66 on the season and six games back of first place in the NL West. From there, they incredibly won 20 of their next 27 games to force a one-game tiebreaker with the Padres for the division title. Colorado won Game 163 in thrilling fashion, scoring three runs off future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman in the 13th inning to walk off into the postseason.
The Rockies stayed hot, dispatching the Phillies with an NLDS sweep before sweeping the D-backs in the NLCS. Matt Holliday took home NLCS MVP honors after hitting .333 and slugging a pair of homers against Arizona.
With the first World Series berth in franchise history secured, the Rockies had won 28 out of their previous 36 games. But after a long layoff between the NLCS and the Fall Classic, Colorado was swept by the Red Sox as Boston clinched its second World Series title in four years with a 4-3 win in Game 4 at Coors Field.
1976 Reds: 7 games
Won World Series
The Big Red Machine was coming off Cincinnati's first World Series championship in 35 years entering the 1976 campaign, and made quick work of the Phillies with a three-game sweep of what was then a best-of-five ALCS that October. The Reds took Game 3 to clinch the pennant in exciting fashion -- trailing by two in the bottom of the ninth, George Foster and Johnny Bench led off the frame with back-to-back homers before Ken Griffey Sr. delivered an infield hit for the walk-off win.
In the World Series, Foster and Bench continued to rake against the Yankees, with Foster hitting .429 and bench winning the Series MVP Award by hitting .533 with two homers. The sweep gave the Reds back-to-back World Series titles -- they're the last NL team to repeat as champions.
2017 Dodgers: 6 games
Lost in World Series
By 2017, the Dodgers had been to the postseason in four consecutive years but hadn't reached the World Series since 1988. The 2017 club won six in a row to open their playoff run that October, beginning with a three-game sweep over their NL West rivals, the D-backs, in the NLDS.
In the NLCS, the Dodgers faced the defending World Series champion Cubs and won the first three games before their postseason-opening win streak ended with a Game 4 loss. The most dramatic moment of the series came in the ninth inning of Game 2, when Justin Turner belted a walk-off three-run homer on the 29th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's famous walk-off homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Turner and Chris Taylor were named co-MVPs of the NLCS and Enrique Hernández smashed three homers in the Game 5 clincher at Wrigley Field.
It was a thrilling seven-game World Series between the Dodgers and Astros, including a pair of extra-inning games -- Houston won both of those contests, with a 7-6 Game 2 victory in 11 innings at Dodger Stadium and a wild 13-12 win at Minute Maid Park in Game 5. Game 7 in Los Angeles was a 5-1 Astros win to clinch the franchise's first World Series title.
Cleveland in 2016: 6 games
Lost in World Series
While the bulk of the attention went to its opponents in the 2016 World Series, given the Cubs' 108-year World Series title drought, Cleveland had a 68-year championship drought of its own.
Cleveland swept Boston in the ALDS, riding timely hitting and a lights-out bullpen to dispatch the Red Sox in three games before meeting the Blue Jays in the ALCS. Jumping out to a 3-0 series lead to extend its postseason-opening win streak to six games, Cleveland lost Game 4, but bounced back for a 3-0 Game 5 victory to clinch its first pennant in 19 years.
Relief ace Andrew Miller was named ALCS MVP after delivering four scoreless appearances (7 2/3 innings) while yielding only three hits, walking none and striking out 14.
Despite taking a 3-1 World Series lead against Chicago, Cleveland was unable to close things out, eventually losing a 10-inning classic in Game 7, 8-7.
1970 Orioles: 6 games
Won World Series
The 1970 Orioles were a juggernaut, entering the playoffs after a 108-win regular season. Baltimore met Minnesota in the ALCS and overwhelmed the Twins, outscoring them 27-10. Brooks Robinson (.583, two doubles), Boog Powell (.429, two doubles and a homer) and Davey Johnson (.364, two homers) led the lineup, which also got a big contribution from starting pitcher Mike Cuellar (grand slam in Game 1), while Jim Palmer and Dave McNally each threw a complete game on the mound.
In the World Series, the Orioles met the Reds and took the first three games before losing for the first time that postseason in Game 4. But Baltimore won Game 5, 9-3, to clinch the title, and Robinson was named World Series MVP after not only hitting .429 with two homers, but also playing spectacular defense at third base. He made one of the most iconic defensive plays in Fall Classic history in Game 1, when he stole a hit from Lee May with a tremendous back-handed grab and throw from foul territory.