PHOENIX – There are not many critical situations throughout a nine-inning baseball game, but when this happens, little transparency results. That could be especially true in a high-profile game and accelerated in a World Series match.
What happened Monday night in Chase Field will likely be forgotten as an iconic moment in World Series history. Yet, to the Arizona Diamondbacks, that circumstance was a significant development in Arizona taking a lead in this series or falling behind.
The latter occurred and that moment may have an indelible quality to stay in the annual of Diamondbacks’ history. In the end, a two-run homer from Corey Seager in the third inning powered the Texas Rangers to a 3-1 over the Diamondbacks before 48,517 and gave the Rangers a 2-1 series advantage.
Yet, circumstances could have been different and possibly quite different.
With Rangers’ starter Max Scherzer experiencing back pain, the Diamondbacks had a unique opportunity to take the veteran right-hander out of the game early.
Here, Arizona first baseman Christian Walker led off the second with a double which banged off the right-center field. Tommy Pham followed with a single to right. On the play, Walker ignored a stop sign and splintered by Tony Perzchina, the third base coach.
On a bullet from right fielder Adolis Garcia, Walker was nailed at the plate and the play took the Diamondbacks out of the inning and out of the game.
“It was a huge minimum swing,” acknowledged Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. “You’re looking at first and third, potentially, and no outs. Many people like to play out the next set of circumstances. But who knows? The timing, everything would have been different. We may have scored a bunch of runs. You just don’t know what would have happened. The outcome would have been totally different.”
Continuing post-game remarks, Lovullo said Walker took ownership for his action and lamented, “that was a big moment.”
Instead of the possibility of putting up a crooked number, the Diamondbacks went quietly. After Walker was thrown out at the plate, Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. popped to second and Alek Thomas grounded out.
The accurate throw from Garcia clearly beat Walker. During the season, the 30-year-old native of Cuba tossed out 16 runners, which tied for the major league lead.
“Obviously, throwing (Walker) was big time,” said Ranges’ outfielder Evan Carter. “Everyone puts in a ton of work to be able to put themselves in that position. So, no, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but it is really fun to watch him do stuff like that.”
If the base running error was devastating enough, the Texas bullpen was equally effective, Manager Bruce Bochy’s use of Jon Gray (in relief of Scherzer who left after three innings with that back issue), Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman and closer Jose Leclerc limited Arizona to one run and just four base runners over the final six innings.
Game three … both managers will start relievers in an “opener game.” The Rangers settled on lefty Andrew Heaney and Lovullo will give the ball over to lefty Joe Mantiply. …in game five Wednesday night, Arizona will likely turn to Zac Gallen, who started game one and Bochy will likely counter with Nathan Eovaldi, who also started game one.
In addition to his .267 batting average, the 31-year-old slammed 35 homers and drove in 75 runs, his work away from the diamond earned Judge his award. His involvement with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, ALL RISE and Bridge to College earned numerous character accolades.
Judge was presented with the award before game three in Chase Field.
“We see so many players playing the game the right way,” Judge said. “They play the game right way. They give back to the kids. This award is a great honor, but it is just another step along the way. I look forward to helping more kids and the lives we touch. It’s just the beginning.”