By: Nicholas Gilanfar
Another game, another Rangers masterpiece as they continue to take care of business in the playoffs with an 11-8 victory over the Baltimore Orioles winning four straight and on the brink of an ALCS berth as they return to Arlington to clinch the divisional series on Tuesday.
The Rangers will be playing game three on home turf which will be the first home game since September 24th, and they have embarked on a 15-day road trip to Anaheim, Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore.
Game two was one of the lengthier playoff games as it lasted three hours and 45 minutes the first two innings nearly took up at least an hour and a half as both pitchers were slow coming out the gate. Texas was able to force yet another short appearance from a Baltimore pitcher as Orioles pitcher Grayson Rodriguez lasted only 1.2 innings letting up six hits, and five runs.
The Rangers’ victory was highlighted by a five-run inning in the second inning, a grand slam in the third inning, and a phenomenal pitching performance in relief from Ranger’s rookie Cody Bradford who was left off on the playoff roster for the wild card series. Aside from in-game storylines, history was made in game two as Rangers shortstop Corey Seager walked five teams which is the most by a single player in postseason history.
An Eventful Three Innings
The opening three innings of the ball game took place in an hour and 42 minutes. In the first inning, the Rangers were able to get Grayson Rodriguez quickly off his game as he lacked command and control which forced a bases-loaded opportunity for Texas. Texas ended up squandering that opportunity as RISP has been a negative trend so far in the Rangers playoff run.
After the Rangers left bases loaded to head to the bottom of the first, Baltimore eventually got their own version of bases loaded in a two-out situation and was able to capitalize by scoring two runs. That gave Baltimore a two-run lead with all the momentum starting on the Orioles court.
For the next two innings, Baltimore was unable to score, but the Rangers were able to respond to a 2-0 deficit by putting up five runs and knocking Grayson Rodriguez out of the game in just 1.2 innings. Coming into the third the Rangers went all gas and continued to stack up dominant plate appearances as they were able to find themselves in a bases-loaded situation and turn a grand slam by Mitch Garver in the three spot. Throughout the playoffs, Robbie Grossman has served as the three spot but has hit only .143 in the playoffs. After Garver’s statement slam yesterday, there should not be any doubts that he remains a mainstay in the Rangers batting order.
Bradford’s Dominant Relief Appearance
By the fourth inning, the score was 9-5 in Baltimore’s favor as Montgomery was starting to get stumped by the young Baltimore lineup as the comeback was nearby. Montgomery was pulled after going four innings, letting up nine hits and five runs, which was uncharacteristic based on the recent play. Following Montgomery’s exit was rookie pitcher Cody Bradford who has been up and down through AAA for the entirety of the season and has both been a starter and reliever for this team.
For the wild card series, Bradford was left off the roster but was given the nod in the ALDS as he officially made his playoff debut going 3.2 innings letting up only three hits and no runs. Although he came into a big lead Bradford was still able to pick up the win as it was eye-opening for the Rangers as it seems like the team has a viable option in the bullpen moving forward.
Bruce Bochy’s Decision to Put Jose Leclerc in the Game
Despite the Rangers dominating through all aspects of the game, when Bradford was pulled when the score was 10-4, Josh Sborz and Brock Burke had the chance to end the game. Sborz let up one run and Burke had two on base having a tough time closing it out. Despite a six-run lead for Texas, Bruce Bochy decided to put in closer Jose Leclerc for his fourth consecutive appearance in the playoffs. The first batter Leclerc faced was Aaron Hicks as he was able to capitalize and hit a three-run home run narrowing it 11-8.
Leclerc ended the game, but it is questioning no matter what. There are few options to go within the Rangers bullpen but the thing not to do is force all this fatigue on Leclerc because he will be a vital piece in relief down the stretch in the postseason. Yes, they were trying to protect their lead, but Bochy does not instill trust in many of the relievers which could become a thorn in the Rangers’ side.
The postseason will return to Arlington as the Texas Rangers will host their first playoff game at Globe Life Field against the Baltimore Orioles. Texas leads the series 2-0, with a win in game three they will advance to the ALCS.
Featured Image via AP Photo/ Julio Cortez