Adolis' walk-off HR in 11th punctuates dramatic Game 1 win in Texas

October 28th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- The question of captivation -- if it was even a question at all -- was answered by the Rangers and D-backs in the opener of this World Series.

To any cynics who suggested that a matchup of fifth and sixth seeds with the lowest combined regular-season winning percentage of American League and National League pennant winners in MLB history was nothing to get excited about, well, let the record show that Game 1 on Friday night at Globe Life Field was as exciting as baseball can be. erased a two-run deficit with a clutch blast in the bottom of the ninth, and walked it off with an 11th-inning solo shot that gave the Rangers a Texas-sized 6-5 victory in a game that featured three lead changes and a mountain of mammoth moments.

“It’s right there at the top,” Texas skipper Bruce Bochy said in assessing this game among the many he’s managed on the Series stage. “It was a great, entertaining game.”

And it went the Rangers’ way because their biggest bats broke down what had been, of late, an impenetrable Arizona bullpen. Texas stunned the Snakes with two swings that will not soon be forgotten by a fan base clamoring for this franchise’s first World Series title.

The spark was Seager, whose two-run homer off D-backs closer Paul Sewald extended his ridiculous resumé at Globe Life Field -- a building where he won the 2020 World Series MVP Award with the Dodgers vs. the Rays during the COVID-19 bubble and where he’s now hit 10 postseason dingers.

“Big-time players do big-time things in big-time moments,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said of Seager. “He came through … He just clipped us. He got us.”

And the finishing blow in the first extra-innings game of this postseason came from the ample bat of García, who has gone deep in an astounding five straight postseason games -- tied for the second-longest such streak in MLB history behind only the six straight by the Mets’ Daniel Murphy in 2015. García’s 22 RBIs are the most in a single postseason in AL/NL history.

"It was an exciting moment, you know?" he said through interpreter Will Nadal. "I was just looking to the dugout, looking at all my teammates being happy.”

García produced the first walk-off home run in a World Series Game 1 since Dodgers slugger Kirk Gibson’s cinematic swat off A's closer Dennis Eckersley in 1988.

How’s that for getting the Series started off right?

Teams winning Game 1 of any best-of-seven postseason series have gone on to win the series 122 of 190 times (64%), although the D-backs came back from a 1-0 deficit in the NL Championship Series. In series with the current 2-3-2 format, clubs taking a 1-0 lead at home have come out on top in the series 65 of 98 times (66%).

This was an epic October evening, a fitting showcase of two resilient clubs that weren’t widely forecasted for the Fall Classic. Few expected the Rangers and D-backs to be here, and they both played like they didn’t want to leave. They each erased a deficit in a way that fit their particular formula -- Texas with brute baseball-bashing, Arizona with a multipronged manufacturing of runs.

It was the Rangers’ game early when they scored a pair of first-inning runs against Arizona ace Zac Gallen. Rookie sensation Evan Carter doubled home a run, and García knocked him in with an RBI single. Globe Life Field -- hosting its second World Series but its first with the actual home team -- was rocking, and the Rangers had a 2-0 lead posted on their ballpark’s gigantic video boards.

Ah, but that’s where the Snakes shine.

The “Answerbacks,” as they’ve come to be known, indeed had answers for Nathan Eovaldi. An energetic offense that heists bags, rips triples, moves runners over, grinds out at-bats and occasionally hits some dingers (if you’re into that sort of thing) was at it again in the third. Singles from Alek Thomas and Evan Longoria and a sac bunt from No. 9 hitter Geraldo Perdomo brought likely NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll to the plate. Carroll connected with Eovaldi’s 0-2 splitter and smacked it to center for a two-run triple, then hustled home ahead of Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe’s throw on a Ketel Marte fielder’s choice to make it 3-2.

“It was good to get on them early,” said Thomas, “and put some pressure on them on the bases.”

Though the Rangers answered with the tying run on Mitch Garver’s bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the third inning, Gallen escaped the jam without further damage. The D-backs further asserted their control of the game with Tommy Pham’s solo shot in the fourth and Marte’s RBI double in the fifth to make it 5-3.

Gallen’s ability to pitch a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth against the heart of Texas' lineup in Seager, Carter and García on a night when he was not at his sharpest helped bridge the gap to the D-backs’ high-leverage bullpen arms. Ryan Thompson, Joe Mantiply and a shaky-but-effective Kevin Ginkel extended the scoreless-innings streak by Arizona's bullpen to 13.

But then came the ninth.

It began when Sewald surrendered the dreaded leadoff walk to Leody Taveras. Then, with one out, Seager unloaded on the first pitch he saw -- an elevated four-seam fastball. He let out a scream of ecstasy the moment he connected, and the no-doubt blast sailed into the right-field seats to even the score at 5 and put the “Life” back in Globe Life.

“This is the playoffs,” said the understated Seager. “This is kind of what it's all about. So it was a cool moment, for sure.”

Did the D-backs consider pitching around Seager in that situation?

“That's what I was talking to the front office about in my office,” Lovullo said. “You feel like you put him on and you've got first and second with some very capable hitters behind him, which you've got to be careful of. If I'm sitting there as a Monday morning quarterback, I'm thinking about it now. But I was thinking with a very clear head, 'Make pitches, bring our closer into the game and we'll get a couple of outs here and march off the field.' That was my mindset.”

Instead, it was the Rangers’ bullpen (Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray, Will Smith and José Leclerc) that put together 6 1/3 scoreless innings with only two hits allowed, no walks and six strikeouts. And so the game drifted into the 11th. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Lovullo brought in right-hander Miguel Castro to face the righty-hitting García.

After working the count to 3-1, García connected with a 96.7 mph sinker that he lofted just over the right-field wall, setting off a raucous celebration on a night in which the Fall Classic lived up to its billing.

“You know,” said García, “it’s going to be a really good Series.”

Sure looks that way.