PHOENIX -- The Rangers -- and especially their fans -- know better than to make assumptions about what’s to come. This is the franchise that was one strike away -- twice -- from its first World Series title in 2011, and that’s a sentence that still sends shivers down the spines of the Texas faithful.
After an 11-7 win in Game 4 on Tuesday, the Rangers know their 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven World Series, while historically relevant, comes with no guarantee of glory. In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams holding a 3-1 edge have gone on to win the series 78 of 92 times (85%). But, you know, that’s not 100%.
As Game 5 arrives Wednesday night at Chase Field, with Texas pitting Nathan Eovaldi opposite Arizona ace Zac Gallen, the Rangers are in prime mathematical position to do something they haven't done since the Washington Senators moved to Arlington in 1972. But they have to do it against a D-backs team that recovered from a 16-34 midseason funk, entered October as a six seed and rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against the reigning NL champion Phillies in the National League Championship Series.
Rangers star shortstop and current World Series MVP favorite Corey Seager was on the last team to rally from down 3-1 -- it was his Los Angeles Dodgers that came back to defeat the Braves in the 2020 NLCS en route to a World Series title.
“You can't take anything for granted,” Seager said. “They're gonna scrap, they're gonna fight, they're gonna claw, and they're never gonna give up.”
The D-backs showed that in Game 4, when they trailed 11-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, then put up six runs in their final two innings to force Texas to bring in closer José Leclerc. The D-backs were also able to stay away from their high-leverage relief arms thanks to 5 1/3 innings of work from reliever Ryne Nelson.
“Because of him, we're going to be in a spot to use our guys [in Game 5] and hopefully win a baseball game,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Without that, we would have been in a really bad spot. And he sacrificed. I know he was gassed out there at the very end, but he sacrificed for the good of his team.”
Here’s what’s on tap for Game 5:
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Game 5 is live now from Chase Field, airing on FOX.
The Fall Classic is available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives will be available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi
Eovaldi had his first postseason stumble in Game 1 against the D-backs, allowing five runs over just 4 2/3 innings. But that came after the veteran right-hander went 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his first four starts this postseason. Eovaldi will be looking to close out the World Series after already earning the clinching victory in both the AL Wild Card Series (6 2/3 innings, one run vs. the Rays) and the AL Division Series (seven innings, one run vs. the O’s).
D-backs: RHP Zac Gallen
Gallen will make his second start of the World Series after getting the nod in Game 1. Gallen did not have one of his better outings then, allowing three runs on four hits and four walks over five innings. He did not have a particularly good NLCS either, giving up nine runs over 11 innings. That said, Gallen has been the ace of the staff throughout the year and Arizona has confidence in him any time he takes the ball.
What are the starting lineups?
Rangers: Without Adolis García, the Rangers rolled with Travis Jankowski in right field for the second straight game. Jankowski certainly made the most of his opportunity in Game 4, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Evan Carter moved to the lineup spot that would have been occupied by García.
D-backs: Emmanuel Rivera got the start at third base in Game 4, but Evan Longoria was back in the lineup for Game 5. Lovullo has stayed relatively consistent with his lineup throughout the postseason, and there’s not much he can do to shake it up at this point.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rangers: Despite holding a 10-run lead in the eighth inning, Texas ultimately had to use closer Leclerc to close out Game 4 after that late Arizona rally. Though Leclerc faced only two batters and threw just 10 pitches, he also threw 16 pitches over an inning of work in the Game 3 win on Monday. Leclerc, who had Tommy John surgery in 2021, has not thrown on three consecutive days since the procedure. The last time he did so was Sept. 10-12, 2019.
D-backs: Nelson’s yeoman effort out of the bullpen in Game 4 helped Arizona's bullpen situation going into Game 5. All the D-backs high-leverage relievers are rested and ready to go. The well-proven formula of Kevin Ginkel setting up closer Paul Sewald with right-hander Ryan Thompson pitching in leverage situations seems to be a sure thing for the D-backs.
Rangers: Both Max Scherzer (back tightness) and García (left oblique strain) will miss the remainder of the Fall Classic. Seager was lifted late in Game 4, but he said he is fine.
Rangers: Seager has homered four times in the past five games. He has three home runs and six RBIs through the first four games of the World Series. He's hitting .307 with 12 extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and 14 walks this postseason. The only other player in MLB history with at least 12 extra-base hits, 12 RBIs and 12 walks in a single postseason is Albert Pujols (2011).
D-backs: Marte was one of the few bright spots for the Arizona offense in Game 4 as he continued his torrid postseason. Marte has hit in 20 straight postseason games, a Major League record. Walker has begun to hit the ball harder in recent games, and he picked up three hits in Game 4.