By: Nicholas Gilanfar
Game one of the ALDS featured a dog fight between the two teams. Luckily, the Rangers became victorious with a statement 3-2-win cementing a 1-0 as well as a three-game win streak in the playoffs.
Game 2 will be Sunday October 8 as the Texas Rangers are now just two wins away from clinching this best of five series to extend their season to the ALCS.
The opening game of the series featured an Andrew Heaney/Dane Dunning pitching tandem as they combined for 5.2 innings letting up two runs. While the tandem had quality performances, the bullpen as well executed and held their end of the bargain to secure the opening game of the ALDS. Like the pitching, the offense was also firing on all cylinders featuring another Evan Carter masterclass and Josh Jung game securing home run.
After hesitation of bullpen placement in the Wild Card, the guys they sent out there today made the best of their opportunities following the 5.2 inning tandem start from Heaney and Dunning. Coming out in relief today was Will Smith, Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc.
They all had scoreless outings but there were many close calls with Sborz and Chapman with command as they both had seven plus balls in a row but cleaned things up fast and stayed resilient. All the relievers that played in game one appeared in the wild card series besides Will Smith who was the closer for the majority of the season but has taken up a lesser role as of late due to posting a 7.26 ERA since August 21st. Smith in his game one appearance only pitched 0.1 inning but was composed as he has been in this position before winning the last two world series with Atlanta and Houston.
With Jose Leclerc making his third appearance this postseason letting up no runs, it will be fascinating to see how they address that moving forwards because he is the best reliever going right now for the ball club and they cannot afford to have him winded. After yesterday though, the Rangers should have a gasp of relief since now they have Jordan Montgomery next on the mound and likely Nathan Eovaldi to follow.
The Offensive Youth
The top storyline for the Texas postseason run has been the outstanding Evan Carter as he has now reached base safely in 10 out of 12 at bats. Evan Carter brought home the first RBI in the game, hitting a double to send Adolis Garcia home giving them a 1-0 lead. Carter also drew two walks as he has had a lot of poise acting like he has been in this position before. Yesterday he was tasked to hit at the #5 spot and took the initiative to heart by picking up valuable at bats in a crucial spot.
Rookie standout Josh Jung also kept the production intact by hitting a home run in the sixth inning which separated the two teams for the remainder of the game. Jung has been hitting an efficient .333 batting average in the playoffs serving as the #8 hitter which is a new role for him. With Jung’s production in the bottom of the lineup, it has been substituting the playoff slump of leadoff hitter Marcus Semien who is only hitting a 0.71 batting average.
The Game-Defying Play
At bottom of the ninth the Rangers brought Jose Leclerc into the game to succeed the close. When he first got into the game things were wobbly at first walking his first batter and having troubles with the strike zone. With Baltimore SS Gunnar Henderson occupying 1st base he proceeds to steal until Jonah Heim reads it and can toss it to Corey Seager to tag Henderson out and record the first out of the ninth. Although it was the first out, the play led instrumental for the conclusion of the game where Leclerc ended up finding his stride and completed the victory 3-2.
Photo Via Yahoo Sports Staff