Corey Seager Texas is still going deep into the postseason. This time he’s doing it for the Rangers, who are riding a streak in October.
Cigars and Adolis Garcia hurry home red, Nathan Eovaldi Seven smooth innings in another playoff clincher and Texas completed an AL Division Series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 7-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
“We just played good ball,” Seager said. “Can’t say enough about what our pitching staff has been able to do.”
The Rangers, whose loss at Seattle on the final day of the regular season made them a wild-card team instead of AL West champions, have since won all five of their postseason games. They are going to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2011.
“Our job was off going on the road against Tampa and Baltimore,” said Texas manager Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco who is now heading to his first ALCS. “Just shows the toughness with this ballclub and the deal to fly to Tampa. Believe me, they wanted to win one more game in the worst way. Didn’t happen. … They put it behind them.”
The AL East champion Orioles, who have won a league-high 101 games, are the only team in baseball not to sweep a series in the regular season, but now have done so after being swept at the most inopportune time. The Orioles are the second team in MLB history to go through the regular non-shortened season and welcome the postseason. The 1998 Padres were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.
Baltimore has lost eight straight playoff games over the last 10 seasons.
“Really proud of our group,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “They defied all the odds. Nobody gave us a chance. These guys have played their butt for six months. We haven’t played well in the last three. [games]”Unfortunately.”
It was the first Rangers playoff game at Globe Life Field, a stadium that was brand new in 2020 when it hosted most of MLB’s neutral postseason during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent most of October there, and Seager was MVP in both the NLCS and World Series. A year later, the shortstop went to Texas on a $325 million, 10-year deal and now occupies the same locker he did in a most unusual postseason with limited appearances.
With a full house for his first home playoff game with the Rangers, Seager sent the record sellout crowd of 40,861 into a frenzy when he connected in his first at-bat, pulling a 445-foot drive into the right-field seats. He went deep seven times for the Dodgers here in 2020.
He said, “That’s what he does Marcus Semien, the second baseman who signed with Texas for $175 million the same week as Seager’s deal for seven years. “He picks up his game in the playoffs. It will be really fun to see what he can do as we move forward.”
Garcia’s three-run homer — complimented by an All-Star slugger taking some slow steps out of the batter’s box — put the Orioles right-hander up 6-0 in the second. Dean KramerThe Israeli-American pitcher made his first career postseason start.
Nathaniel Lowe Also homered for Texas, a solo shot in the sixth. Lowe led off the Rangers’ five-run second inning with a lineout to left, but it came in his 15th at-bat after fouling off nine two-strike pitches.
“I saw a team that was really motivated,” Bochy said. “On offense, everyone was doing something to contribute.”
Seager was one of five Texas hitters who started for the AL squad in this year’s All-Star Game. It’s quite a lineup for Bochy, who was hired last offseason by Rangers general manager Chris Young, one of the manager’s former pitchers in San Diego.
Also an All-Star in his first season with the Rangers, Eovaldi won two of their series-clinching games this postseason. It was the right-hander’s longest and best two starts since returning in September after missing seven weeks with a right arm strain.
Eovaldi threw 76 of 98 pitches for a strikeout without a walk while allowing just one run and striking out seven. He was graced with chants of his name as he walked off the mound after the seventh inning — and then Garcia tipped his hat to the crowd out of the dugout. Eovaldi also won the wild-card series clincher last Wednesday at Tampa Bay.
“I’ve never had a curtain call or anything like that, but our fans have been bringing it up all night,” he said. “When I came out at 6:30 tonight, they were chanting, ‘Let’s go Rangers.’ I knew it was going to be a really good night for us.”
Jose Leclerc Got the final four outs, the first with the bases loaded in the eighth when he induced an inning-ending groundout by a pinch hitter. Aaron Hickswho hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 2.
Leclerc set off celebratory fireworks inside the ballpark when he struck out a perfect ninth pitch Jordan Westberg to finish the game.
Kramer’s 1⅔ innings marked his shortest outing all season. The 27-year-old wore a Star of David necklace as usual with thoughts of extended family members in Israel, where war was declared after a deadly attack by militant group Hamas. His mother was at the game.
Kramer was 13-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 32 regular-season starts that included two clinching games in Baltimore: Sept. 17 to clinch a playoff spot, and 11 days later to clinch the AL East for the team’s 100th win.
“Offensively, we weren’t at our best the last two, three weeks of the season. It carried over into the postseason where we struggled with guys,” Hyde said. “They came in with a ton of momentum. I don’t think we came in with a ton of momentum offensively.”
The Rangers are now waiting to see if they will travel to Houston or Minnesota for Game 1 of the ALCS on Sunday.
ESPN Stats & Facts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.