ARLINGTON, Texas — He felt the impact, his voice lost in the tornado at Globe Life Field, his body inadvertently impersonating his first World Series home run six years ago. When Corey Seager homered that night against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium, he couldn’t maintain the veneer of stoicism that wore him down. He’s older now, maybe even quieter, with the weight of an owner clinging to his shoulders. And yet, he responded the same way Friday night when he homered in Game 1 of the World Series, a 6-5 victory for the Texas Rangers: He played his heart out.
Seeker had reason to celebrate after him Launched a blast connecting the game Arizona Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald with one out in the ninth inning. His homer got the crowd going and set the table for Adolis Garcia to deliver A walk-off homer in the 11th. The storybook October continued for Garcia as the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player. Seager could give his teammates some competition for hardware in the Fall Classic.
For much of the evening, the Rangers looked poised to meet the fate of the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. But all of those teams lacked one key ingredient. They don’t use Cory Seager.
Seager explained on Friday why Texas lured him away from Los Angeles with a $325 million contract after the 2021 season. His body may break down. He can be merciless on the field. But few men can hit a baseball with more power. He led the AL in doubles this season, despite playing in only 119 games. He posted a career-best 1.013 OPS. He maintained that clip this postseason. His first-inning homer in Game 7 of the ALCS in Houston stunned his teammates. His ninth-inning homer saved them Friday.
Before he could go deep, Seager scored a pair of runs in the opening inning as these two teams collided. The competition seemed impossible a year ago. The Diamondbacks won 74 games in 2022. The Rangers won 68 games. The debacle in Texas sparked a series of shootings. The team fired manager Chris Woodward last August. Days later, owner Ray Davis fired John Daniels, the architect of the 2010 and 2011 pennant winners, as president of baseball operations. Davis promoted general manager Chris Young. After the season, Young flew to Nashville to see Bruce Bochy.
Bochy managed a towering pitcher named Young in San Diego. He gained more acclaim in the 2010s when he won three World Series rings with San Francisco. After the 2019 season, Bochy retired to pursue a career in fishing and golf. Young intended to pull Bochy back into the dugout. “What do you dislike about your life?” asked Bochy’s wife, Kim, after Young visited. Bochy felt connected to his former player. And he felt the pull of the game’s grandest stage. “Of course, it goes through your mind: ‘Hey, I want one more shot, at least, to get back to the World Series,'” he said.
Bochy reached this milestone in his first season at Texas. This will be Lovallo’s seventh season in Arizona. He has lost more games than he has won. He still led the franchise from the 110-loss wreckage of the 2021 season. He formed a lasting bond with general manager Mike Hazen. Lovullo became the rare manager to survive a losing season. “When you lose 110 games, it’s very difficult for a manager to make that much of an impact,” Hazen said. “It’s a roster issue. It’s me.”
Hazen built an enviable farm system. Corbin Carroll, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound outfielder selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, was gifted. A fastball capable of tearing up the base paths, Carroll epitomized the type of player Major League Baseball intended to reward the rule changes implemented in 2023. So it was fitting that he took the first at-bat of the World Series: Carroll struck out. Rangers infielder Nathaniel Lowe caught it for one out.
Texas boasted its own talented rookie. 21-year-old outfielder Evan Carter spent just 23 games with the club during the regular season. He showed enough potential to earn a spot on the postseason roster in September — and batted third against Arizona. Carter scored the first run of the series. After Seager walked, Carter hit a 95.8 mph fastball from Jack Galen into the right-center gap. Seager went home and Carter went to second base. He struck out five pitches when Garcia lined a curveball to left for a single. This is his seventh consecutive game with RBI.
With two runs, Carroll answered in the top of the third. The Diamondbacks scattered on Nathan Ewald. Alec Thomas got an infield single. Evan Longoria had another hit. Geraldo Perdomo put both runners in scoring position. Carroll sliced an 0-2 splitter into center field, where Rangers outfielder Leodi Taveras misread its flight. The ball went past Taveras and into the wall. Carroll drove to third with a game-tying, two-run triple.
Carroll’s speed was the difference in Arizona’s third run. He broke toward the plate when Ketel Marte hit a grounder to first base. Lowe threw to catcher Jonah Heim. Carroll slid the dirt and tipped the tag by inches to give the Diamondbacks a 3-2 advantage.
The lead did not last. The top of Texas’ lineup harassed Gallen in the bottom of the inning. The Rangers benefited from Gallen’s fastball and inability to find a cutter. Seeger walked. Carter made a double chop. Seager was in third, but Gallen fought to escape. He walked Garcia to load the bases. Mitch Carver, the designated hitter, fouled out before sending a pair of full-count fastballs in a low changeup. His walk tied the game.
Arizona showed its potential against Philadelphia. They refused to fold after dropping the first two games to the Phillies. As Galen staggered, so did the group. In the top of the fourth, Ewaldi hung a splitter. Baum singled the pitch over the left-field fence for a 4-3 lead.
The Diamondbacks put on a clinic for their brand in the fifth. The frame began with a single by No. 9 hitter Perdomo. Pertomo stole second base. Evaldi hung a curveball to Marte, who smoked the pitch over Taveras’ head for the RBI double. Arizona didn’t score again during the inning, but Ewaldi followed first baseman Christian Walker with a groundout.
Arizona’s bullpen tried to keep the lead safe. The team came together in the final weeks of the season, a mishmash of rookies and followers who built a bridge for Sewald. At the deadline, Hazen acquired Seewald from the Mariners. His presence stabilized the group, giving roles to the rest. Lovullo brought out his relievers for the final four innings. Ryan Thompson managed sixth place. Joe Montipli struck out Seager and Carter in the top of the seventh. Kevin Zingel worked around a single and a walk in the eighth.
The ninth inning belonged to Seewald. It started with a bump. He issued a leadoff walk to No. 9 hitter Taveras. After Marcus Siemian struck out, Seager stepped up to the plate. Seewald favors fastballs. He tried to sneak past Seagar. The gamble failed. Seager destroyed an elevated, 93.6 mph heater. He let out a scream as he ran down the first-base line, the sticks still clutched in his arms. He did the same pose, the same scream, the same trot against Astros ace Justin Verlander all those years ago in Los Angeles. That streak ended in heartbreak. Because of Seager, the Rangers have a chance for a different kind of finish.
(Photo: Kevin Jairaj/USA Today)
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