Texas breaks out brooms, advances to ALCS for 1st time since '11

October 12th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- Corey Seager admits he’s a pretty meticulous guy. So when it came to free agency in the winter of 2021, he knew exactly what he wanted.

Rangers general manager Chris Young came to him with a plan, a vision and a timeline, starting with the franchise shortstop he would eventually sign to a 10-year, $325 million deal.

“When I won in L.A., it was a long time since they'd won," Seager said. "I saw what that did for a fan base. When I heard they'd never won, it was extremely exciting for me to be part of something and to be able to be on the ground for and build that.”

That plan is coming to fruition. Thanks to a solo home run from Seager to put the Rangers ahead early and seven innings of one-run ball from starter Nathan Eovaldi, Texas cruised to a 7-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at Globe Life Field on Tuesday night to complete a sweep of the Orioles in the American League Division Series.

The Rangers have now won five straight games to open the 2023 postseason, matching the longest postseason win streak in Washington/Texas franchise history.

Texas moved one step closer to the ultimate goal of a World Series, as it advanced to the ALCS for the first time since 2011 to face the Astros, who vanquished the Twins in the ALDS.

Texas supplemented the big-name free-agent signings of Seager, Eovaldi, Marcus Semien and Jacob deGrom with homegrown talent -- Josh Jung, Evan Carter and Leody Taveras -- and the savvy trade acquisitions of Mitch Garver, Jonah Heim and Nathaniel Lowe to put the organization on this trajectory.

That plan Young laid out for Seager two winters ago looks right on track.

“They've pretty much met everything that they told me,” Seager said with a smile.

Eovaldi, the last in a trio of free-agent pitching acquisitions following the 2022 season, recalled his own winter meeting with the front office. Young was set on fortifying the rotation after doing the same with the lineup the previous year. Eovaldi was sold.

The Alvin, Texas, native earned the win and a curtain call in front of the Globe Life Field crowd after delivering on the biggest stage of the season when called upon.

“To me, pitching wins championships,” Eovaldi said. “You've seen it across the league. Good pitching is able to neutralize a good lineup. I feel like that's what we've been able to do here lately. … Moving forward, again, pitching, you can never have enough good starting pitching. I feel like that's been one of our big reasons for our success.”

Out of all the free agents the Rangers signed over the past two offseasons, a three-time World Series-winning manager in Bruce Bochy may have been the biggest one. The skipper said when Young, his former player, laid out that plan, he felt it was optimistic.

After all, the Rangers lost 102 games in 2021 and 94 in ‘22. But Young kept pounding the table, Bochy said. They could turn this thing around right away. And now Bochy becomes just the seventh manager to reach the LCS with three or more franchises.

“So no, I'm not surprised at where we're at,” Bochy said ahead of Game 3. “That's because of his hard work and his determination to make this a better ball club. He has a lot of pride growing up here, he wanted to bring winning baseball back to Texas. What a great job he's done.”

“Even though you talk about it, to be here, you realize how fortunate, at least personally, I am to be sitting here and be part of this and be part of that team,” Bochy reiterated postgame. “Again, I can't say enough of what they did here the last week and really all year. So to be part of it, I'm blessed.”

The Rangers laid out a relentless attack all week against a 101-win Baltimore team, only trailing once, for half an inning in Game 2. The club delivered in all facets of the game, from the high-powered offense to starting pitching and a bullpen finally righting the ship at the perfect time.

Texas has now outscored its opponents 32-12 (+20) through the first five games of this postseason, good for the second-highest run differential by any team over its first five games of a postseason in MLB history (+22, 2019 Yankees).

Adolis García dealt the final blow when he broke open the series-clinching game with a three-run homer in the second inning. The outfielder is one of the last remaining members of the 102-loss team in 2021.

“I think that's really why I'm enjoying it so much,” García said. “It's something that I was a part of. I was part of the process. I also made my adjustments throughout that time. It's something that we're really enjoying right now. It's been a long time.”