PHOENIX -- There is no letting up or sigh of relief in the World Series until the final out is recorded. But hitting for the cycle and scoring five runs in back-to-back innings early will give a team the opportunity to play free on the opposing turf.
“We were fired up,” Evan Carter said. “... Listen, this is a scary offense when everybody’s rolling on all cylinders, so it was a lot of fun to see.”
The Rangers crushed the ball for five runs each in the second and third innings, all with two outs. They became the first team in World Series history to plate five runs or more in consecutive innings. Tuesday marked only the third time in the Fall Classic that a club scored five-plus runs in two frames, and the first since the 1961 Yankees against the Reds, per Elias Sports Bureau.
And in delivering under pressure, their 10 runs with two outs tied for the second most in a postseason game, behind just the 2020 Dodgers (11, Game 3 of the NLCS) and ‘07 Red Sox (11, Game 1 of the World Series).
“We’re going to compete until the inning’s over,” said Corey Seager, who put an exclamation mark on the early run when he pummeled his sixth home run of the 2023 playoffs in the second inning. “It doesn’t matter how many outs there are. We’re just going to try to have good at-bats.”
The Rangers did not take the D-backs pitching a bullpen game lightly, especially after offensive powerhouse Adolis García was sidelined for the postseason by a moderate left oblique strain.
They became the first club to hit for the cycle in an inning in the World Series since the Braves did it in Game 5 in 1991 during the fourth and eighth innings, and the 10th team overall to accomplish the feat.
“You don't take anything for granted, trust me, because they're professional pitchers over there,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “They've done very well with their bullpen days. We knew that, and they can do their matchup deal. You’ve just got to go out there and compete.”
Josh Jung opened the second with a double against Joe Mantiply, who was replaced by Miguel Castro. Jung advanced to third on a Jonah Heim groundout, and he took advantage of a Castro miscue to dash home on a wild pitch.
After Leody Taveras drew a walk, Travis Jankowski -- who made his first postseason start after the injury to García -- connected on a single to center field. Marcus Semien drove in two runs with a triple into left field, prompting a call to the bullpen for Kyle Nelson.
“To me, that’s nobody trying to do too much,” said Jankowski. “Kind of a relentless mentality of, ‘Yeah, there’s two outs, but we can still score.’ … To me, that’s just kind of what this team has done all year. When we’re going well, we’re passing the baton to the next guy up and letting him do something special.”
The Rangers’ 3-0 lead quickly grew when Seager came to the plate. The slugging shortstop jumped on a second-pitch slider from Nelson and rocketed it a Statcast-projected 431 feet to center field at an exit velocity of 108.4 mph. Seager became the first shortstop to hit three home runs in one World Series and the second to go yard in consecutive World Series games, joining the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in Games 4 and 5 in 2000.
Seager climbed the leaderboard to rank second in homers by a shortstop in postseason history (19), trailing only Jeter (20). He also tied Albert Pujols for sixth among players at any position.
“It just gave us a whole bunch of confidence and gave our pitchers some breathing room to just go out there and attack and pitch their games,” said Heim. “I think it relaxed everybody, and everybody just continued the hit parade and did their jobs.”
The second-inning outburst set the tone for another five-run frame in the third, which saw the first postseason home run from Semien. Texas has homered in 15 consecutive playoff games, the longest streak in a single postseason. Only the Yankees (23 games from 2019-22) and D-backs (17 games from 2007-23) have longer overall streaks. (Arizona’s streak ended earlier in this postseason.)
Whether it is piecing together at-bats or clobbering homers, the Rangers proved the value of doing it early and often. That cushion put them on the verge of becoming world champs.
“Playing from ahead’s much easier than playing catchup,” said Nathaniel Lowe. “It allows us to kind of dig into the rest of the bullpen instead of seeing the seven-eight-nine leverage guys. And that’s no knock on the guys that they ran out there tonight, because they’re great Major League pitchers. But we really did a good job of jumping on guys early, seemingly keeping them out of it. But they’re going to fight back because that’s what happens in the World Series.”