Texas Rangers make history and bring home their first World Series
The Rangers won 4-1 in a hotly contested series, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks to win the championship trophy.
This week was a spooky one for most, but perhaps no one more so than for the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the Texas Rangers defeated the Diamondbacks 5-0 to cap off a 4-1 series win, clinching the franchise’s first-ever World Series title. They made league history as well, becoming the first team in Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason history to go perfect on the road, winning all 11 games on their travels. This came despite going under .500 (with a record of 40-41) in away games this season.
Last season, the Rangers and Diamondbacks both finished fourth in their division with a combined record of 142-182. In 2021, they both finished last in their respective divisions, with Texas losing 102 games and Arizona dropping a joint-league-worst 110 defeats. It is safe to say these teams came out of nowhere, each making an improbable run to baseball’s biggest stage, knocking off seemingly insurmountable hurdles along the way.
The Rangers completed the regular season with a 90-72 record, winning the second of three wildcard spots in a wild American League playoff race that lasted up until the final day. They were just two games above the Seattle Mariners, who just missed out on the playoffs.
As the lower seed, they knocked off the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 in a best-of-three wild card and followed that up by sweeping the Baltimore Orioles 3-0, who had the American League’s (AL) best record, in the ALDS. In five games, the Rangers managed to knock off the top two teams in the AL, toppling the AL East division — which had been touted this season as one of the best in baseball history. They then faced off with a familiar foe, the division-rival Houston Astros. This was the Astros’ sixth consecutive ALCS appearance, winning the pennant four of those six years, including a World Series title last season. The Rangers won this series in seven games, with every game being won by the away team.
They returned to the World Series for the first time since 2011, when they were a strike away from winning their very first World Series before St. Louis Cardinals’ David Freese hit two clutch hits; a game-tying two-run triple in the ninth, followed by a game-winning 11th inning home run to send the series to a seventh game. The Cardinals would win game seven, extending the Rangers fans’ misery for another 12 years.
The D-Backs finished the regular season with an 84-78 record, somehow squeezing into the playoffs with a joint-third-worst record of any team in MLB postseason history. With everybody counting them out, Arizona defied all odds. They won both wild card games in Milwaukee to knock off the Brewers, before sweeping the big-market, big-name, 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers in three swift games. They faced the reigning NL champion Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS, where they were easily taken care of in games one and two, heading home with their backs against the wall following a 10-0 thrashing. Now needing to win four of their next five, the Diamondbacks won two of three at home, though were still tasked with winning both games six and seven back in Philly. Unable to be counted out, they won both games thanks to grit and dominant bullpen pitching, with no runs allowed in nine innings of relief.
The Diamondbacks returned to the World Series for the second time in history, the first time in 2001, when they downed the ever-dominant New York Yankees 4-3 on a walk-off single by Luis Gonzalez.
So there it was; two unlikely teams left, with a series to decide which fairytale would come true. Game one will be written in history books and Rangers folklore, perhaps going down as the most iconic game in franchise history. Down 5-3 in the ninth, eventual World Series MVP Corey Seager hit a game-tying moonshot, subsequently screaming with his bat in hand, acknowledging in a split second what that swing meant. The game went into the 11th inning, when ALCS MVP Adolis Garcia continued his heroics from the prior series, sending a lined shot to the opposite field, over the wall for a walk-off homerun to take game one home for the Rangers. Garcia had eight postseason home runs and 39 in the regular season. This game finally allowed the Texans to put the ghost of David Freese behind them, with an eerily similar comeback to a game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Diamondbacks took this personally and stole game two in Arlington by a dominant 9-1 scoreline. One would have thought the series was shifting from here, had they not seen the Rangers’ away record. Needing to steal a game back in Phoenix, the Rangers said they would do one better — and took all three games, as well as a World Series trophy, back to Texas. Winning a pitcher’s duel in game three, 3-1, they decided to let the bats do the work in game four, with an 11-7 win. With a commanding 3-1 lead, the series was effectively over, and Marcus Semien’s ninth-inning home run to make it 5-0 in Game Five sealed a decisive series win.
World Series MVP Corey Seager hit three home runs during this series, with six total in the postseason. His ninth season as a professional player was his best yet, batting .327 for the fifth-best batting average in baseball, and a league runner-up 1.013 OPS, with 33 home runs and 96 RBI.
Arizona had notable stand-outs as well, such as Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll. He batted .285 with a .868 OPS, 25 home runs, and 76 RBIs this season, and stood out with some big hits in the postseason as well. Ketel Marte, the D-Backs’ second baseman, who also had an outstanding season, broke a postseason record with an 18-game hitting streak after game two of the World Series.
Just like the Rangers, the Diamondbacks were particularly impressive on the road, going 7-3 in their travels in the postseason, but it did not prove to be enough. The World Series trophy is returning to Texas, this time making its way north from Houston to Arlington.