Rangers sweep Orioles to reach ALCS for first time since 2011


ARLINGTON, Texas — Corey Seager is still deep in Texas during the postseason. This time he did it for Rangers, who have been in consecutive games in October.

Seager and Adolis Garcia hit home runs early and Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven smooth innings in another crucial playoff game as Texas held off its third win on Tuesday night. They swept the Baltimore Orioles 7-1.

“We just played really well,” Seager said. “Can’t say enough about what our pitching staff did.”

The Rangers’ loss to Seattle on the final day of the regular season made them a wild-card team rather than the AFC West champion, but they have since won all five postseason games. They will compete in the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2011.

“We struggled on the road against Tampa and Baltimore,” said Texas manager Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco who is now playing in his first ALCS. “It just shows the resiliency of this team and the protocol of having to fly to Tampa. Trust me, they wanted to win one more game in the worst possible way. But it didn’t happen… They threw it away Behind you.”

The AL East champion Orioles, who had won a league-high 101 games and were the only team in baseball not to be swept in a regular-season series, were now swept at the most inopportune time. The Orioles are the second team in MLB history to not be swept in a non-shortened regular season and then be swept in the postseason. The Padres were swept by the Yankees in the 1998 World Series.

Baltimore has lost eight straight playoff games in the past 10 seasons.

“Really proud of our team,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “They fought against all odds. No one gave us a chance. These guys played hard for six months. Unfortunately, we haven’t been good the last three games.”

It was the Rangers’ first postseason game at Globe Life Field, which was brand new in 2020 and hosted the majority of MLB’s neutral postseason games during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Los Angeles Dodgers spent most of October there, and Seager was named MVP in the NLCS and World Series. A year later, the shortstop left for Texas on a 10-year deal worth $325 million and now occupies the same position as he did in a most unusual postseason with limited attendance. locker room.

Seager played to a sold-out Rangers’ first postseason home game and sent a record crowd of 40,861 into a frenzy when, in his first at-bat, he hit a 445-foot drive into the right-field seats. . He went deep into deep field seven times for the Dodgers in 2020.

“That’s what he does. He’s done it in big moments before,” said second baseman Marcus Semien, who signed Seager to a seven-year, $175 million deal the same week Price signed with Texas. “He got his game back in the playoffs. It’s going to be really fun to see what he can do as we move forward.”

Garcia’s three-run homer – one the All-Star slugger admired as he took a few slow steps into the batter’s box – put the Orioles up 6-0 in the second. Team right-hander, Israeli-American pitcher Dean Kremer. His first career playoff start.

Nathaniel Lowe also homered for Texas in the sixth inning. Lowe led off the Rangers’ five-run second inning with a lineout to left, but that came on the 15th pitch of the at-bat after a foul on nine two-hit pitches.

“I saw a really motivated team,” Boch said. “Offensively, everyone is contributing something.”

Seager is one of five Texas batters starting for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game. That’s a pretty good roster for Bochy, who was hired last offseason by Rangers general manager Chris Young, one of the manager’s former pitchers in San Diego.

Eovaldi was an All-Star in his first season with the Rangers, and he won two crucial games in the playoffs. It was the right-hander’s longest and best two starts since returning in September after missing seven weeks with a strained right forearm.

Eovaldi threw 76 of 98 at-bats, allowing just one run and striking out seven. As he walked off the mound after Game 7, his name was serenaded and he was wheeled out of the dugout by Garcia, who tipped his hat to the crowd. Eovaldi also won the decisive wild-card series victory in Tampa Bay last Wednesday.

“I never had a curtain call or anything like that, but our fans brought it all night long,” he said. “When I walked out at 6:30 tonight, they were chanting ‘Let’s go to the Rangers.’ “I knew it was going to be a really good night for us. “

Jose Leclerc struck out the final four games, the first of which came in the eighth inning with the bases loaded when he induced pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks to hit a grounder in the second. He hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning of that game.

Leclerc pitched a perfect ninth pitch, striking out Jordan Westburg to end the game, and the ballpark lit up with celebratory fireworks.

Kramer’s 1⅔ innings were his shortest appearance all season. The 27-year-old wore a Star of David necklace as usual and remembered his extended family members in Israel. Israel has declared war following a deadly incursion by militant group Hamas. His mother was also present.

Kramer went 13-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 32 regular-season starts, including two key games for Baltimore: Sept. 17 to secure a playoff berth, and 11 days later The team won its 100th game to secure the American League East.

“Offensively, we weren’t at our best the last two or three weeks of the season. That carried over into the playoffs and our guys were struggling,” Hyde said. “They had a lot of energy. I didn’t think we had a lot of energy offensively.”

The Rangers are now waiting to see if they will travel to Houston or Minnesota for Game 1 of the AFC Cup on Sunday.

Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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