Rangers win 9th straight(!) road game to take 2-1 series lead

October 31st, 2023

PHOENIX -- Game 3 of the World Series went from a Max effort to a Gray area on Monday night at Chase Field. But a radical revision to the Rangers’ playbook didn’t stop the most dominant road run in postseason history.

Despite losing starter Max Scherzer to back spasms after only three innings and losing star right fielder Adolis García to left side tightness late, the Rangers were backed by exceptional emergency relief from  to not only regain control of this Fall Classic with a 3-1 victory but also to extend their road winning streak to a perfect 9-0 this postseason.

Texas is now up, 2-1, in the best-of-seven Series with the D-backs and has a new single-postseason record in terms of both wins and consecutive wins on the road.

In all best-of-seven postseason series tied at 1-1, the team winning Game 3 has gone on to win the series 68 of 99 times (69%). Those doing so on the road in series with the current 2-3-2 format have gone on to win 29 of 39 times (74%).

“No matter where you are, we're trying to play good baseball every day,” said shortstop , whose two-run homer in the third inning proved to be the Game 3 difference-maker. “I don't know how to credit it to anything other than that.”

Perhaps Seager doesn’t have “away” with words to describe these victorious visitors, but we can largely credit their latest triumph to that Gray guy in the road gray pants.

Though he was an option to start Game 4 on Tuesday night, Gray rose to the October occasion in relief by retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced after getting thrust into duty unexpectedly.

“[Gray] saved us,” Scherzer said. “What an effort to be able to come in and just give us quality outs. Huge kudos to him for doing that. It shows you why we’re a great team.”

Scherzer’s injury, which will need to be re-evaluated Tuesday and has the potential to cost the likely Hall of Famer a shot at starting a potential Game 7 on Saturday night, was a development that could have unraveled the Rangers and supported the Snakes.

It did the opposite.

Arizona struggled to generate scoring opportunities all evening, and one of the home club’s biggest ones was snuffed out by overly aggressive baserunning on the part of Christian Walker.

When Walker ripped a leadoff double off Scherzer in the second inning, it was a chance for the D-backs to make an early statement on a night in which their sold-out home crowd of 48,517 did not need the Chase Field roof to be closed in order to fill it up with sound.

But when the red-hot Tommy Pham ripped a single to right-center, Walker blew through third-base coach Tony Perezchica’s stop sign and was an easy out at the plate thanks to a magnificent throw from the strong-armed García, who would later leave after injuring his side in an eighth-inning at-bat.

"Honest mistake,” Walker said. “I felt like I got a late read from my angle. It was hard to tell how hard the ball was hit. I had a feeling it was going to drop, but I've seen Tommy hit that ball before and it gets to the right fielder in the air. So I was a little hesitant to just turn my back and go. I think I just got a little bit sped up trying to make up for that shuffle.”

It was arguably the biggest single moment of the ballgame.

“I feel like that was a huge momentum swing,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “You're looking at first and third, potentially, and no outs. And a lot of people liked to play out the next set of circumstances -- a popup and a ground ball off the pitcher's arm [that the Rangers turned into the third out]. But who knows? The timing, everything would have been different. We may have scored a bunch of runs.”

They did not score a bunch of runs, but the Rangers put up a three-run frame off D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt in the ensuing half-inning. The slumping Marcus Semien singled home Nathaniel Lowe from second with two outs, and Seager -- not far removed from his game-tying ninth-inning blast in Game 1 -- followed by smashing a first-pitch changeup out to right field.

An inning later, when Scherzer took the field for the bottom of the fourth, he grimaced as he walked up the steps from the dugout and was in obvious pain while throwing his warmup pitches. Scherzer’s World Series start in the building where he had made his big league debut for the D-backs in 2008 turned out to be a brief one.

The back spasms, which Scherzer said need 48 hours to evaluate fully, were a frustrating development given the many nagging injuries he has battled this season, including a right shoulder issue that almost prevented him from pitching at all in October.

“I was finally feeling like I could get deep into a game,” he said, “and get a rhythm and get going here.”

Scherzer’s back hurt, but Gray had his back. With the D-backs unable to generate quality contact off his wipeout slider or much contact at all against his four-seam fastball, Gray cruised through his three innings of work.

“Oh, man, I love it,” Gray said. “This is the most important time of the year for us. We've worked so hard to get here, and to be able to help and be a good part of this team, it feels amazing.”

The D-backs did finally get a rally going when pinch-hitter Emmanuel Rivera doubled and Geraldo Perdomo hit an RBI single off Aroldis Chapman to make it 3-1 in the eighth. Even then, though, Chapman was able to escape the inning by catching Corbin Carroll looking at strike three and then inducing a double play from Ketel Marte that Seager sparked with a nice sliding stop to his left. An errant strike call on a 3-1 pitch to leadoff man Gabriel Moreno in the ninth didn’t help the cause.

“Tip your hat [to the Rangers], I guess,” Walker said of Arizona’s uneventful offensive output.

Yes, tip your hat to a Texas team that, for whatever reason, has shown more life outside of Globe Life Field than in it this postseason. The Rangers have a road record, which is interesting and all. But more importantly, they have a Series edge.