PHOENIX – In the immediate moments after the Texas Rangers claimed their first franchise World Series victory Wednesday night, the Chase Field air hung heavy with a strong dose of emptiness.
As quickly the Rangers began celebrating their 5-0 victory before 48,511, and World Series win in five games over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the residual effect was not only anticipated but experienced to a depth lower than a deep, submarine charge.
It can be argued that the Diamondbacks did not truly lose the series but that the Rangers, the superior team, simply won by conquering all aspects of the game. In game five, the Diamondbacks’ lack of offense quickly took the home crowd out of the contest and the reality of leaving 11 runners on base for the game doomed the inevitable.
All of the achievements of the past season and triumphs of the post-season seemed lost. Afterward, manager Torey Lovullo, usually loquacious and animated, climbed onto the platform of the interview room, sat in front of a microphone, and stared into space. Emotions dripped and he caught the attention of his family. Quickly, he stepped down, hugged several members, and then resumed his appointed task.
“The reason why this hurts so bad is because we care so much,” Lovullo said slowly. “We care about this baseball community. We care that the fans of Arizona bleed Sedona red with us and they backed us. This was painful, just plain painful. I can’t quite move past that right now. But, I will.”
In game five, the Diamondbacks had an opportunity to extend this series. By leaving 11 runners on base, that offense failed, and that effectively quieted the home crowd.
In the process, Arizona could not take advantage of the extended pitch count by Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi (finished with 97 pitches for six innings) and had the veteran on the ropes for much of his outing.
Designated hitter Tommy Phan left four runners in his first two at-bats and while the Diamondbacks managed to load the base in the fifth, Lourdes Gurriel,, Jr. grounded to short to end that threat.
“I just didn’t do a very good job of executing pitches until I had to do that,” said Eovaldi, who finished the post-season with a 5-0 record. “The lead-off walk (to Corbin Carroll ) to start the game (Corbin stole second on the first pitch to Ketel Marte) and having traffic early was not easy. I was able to make big pitches when I really needed.”
If Eovaldi had kept the Diamondbacks at bay, Arizona starter Zac Gallen carried a no-hitter into the seventh. From that point, things unraveled slowly, and the game slid out of control.
First, Corey Seager led off the seventh with a slow roller where the third baseman would be positioned. All Evan Longoria, who was shaded in the shortstop hole, could do is watch the ball squirt into shallow left field. From there, Evan Carter drilled a double to right center and Mitch Garver put the Rangers in the lead with an RBI single up the middle.
In the ninth, the Rangers added four runs and that secured the title.
From that point, the poison stung, and fresh wounds dug deeper. Lovullo was helpless to stem any emotional tide. Instead, he took repeated breaths and waited for powerful waves to subside.
“I told the players to absorb it and process this the right way,” Lovullo continued. “Don’t compartmentalize and don’t put this away.”
There will be a time, Lovullo asserted, that he will come down from this emotional mountain and begin to think about the future. What that holds, at this point, is not for speculation. Rather, this becomes a mission to attain what was, on Wednesday, unattainable.
“Where does this end?” Lovullo asked rhetorically. “I want it to end at the very top of that mountain and we got really close. I think we tasted it and know this team will be hungry. I think you will see a very passionate, hungry baseball team walk into Salt River (the Diamondbacks spring training facility) next year and be ready to go.”
From the winners… with the Rangers’ win, manager Bruce Bochy now has four rings and three with the San Francisco Giants.
“This one is special, and I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said in helping Texas earn its initial title. “It’s special to come here in my first year with a team that was determined to play winning baseball and had never won a championship.” … Texas shortstop Corey Seager earned his second World Series MVP. He took similar hardware with the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers.