Rangers capture first World Series in franchise history, Bruce Bochy wins fourth ring

PHOENIX β€” Bruce Bohy barely had time to raise his arms to the sky. His coaches swarmed him with hugs and slaps on the back as the final pitch of the 2023 season entered the strike zone, ending the Texas Rangers’ 5-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the World Series. When reliever Josh Sborz’s curveball landed in catcher Jonah Heim’s glove Wednesday night, Bochy disappeared, if only for a moment, reappearing to join his players on the field. He had thought back to nights like this in a dugout in Germany and on his couch in Nashville. He had wondered if he would ever make it again. He had now regained his usual position this season: hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy to commemorate a title.

For the first time in franchise history, the Rangers can call themselves world champions. However, for the newfound kings of the sport, their cast was quite familiar with the scene. Bochy managed his fourth team to a title. Corey Seager won his second World Series MVP trophy. Nathan Eovaldi bolstered the Rangers pitching staff as he did with the Boston Red Sox en route to the 2018 crown. Texas GM Chris Young will add a World Series ring to a collection that already includes the ring he earned as a player with the Kansas City Royals in 2015;

Seager sparked a go-ahead, seventh-inning rally. Eovaldi survived six rocky periods without capitulating. Bochy hit the right buttons to keep Arizona at bay in the final frames. Watching Bohi act like a maestro in his relievers was like a trip to the sport’s recent past. He exuded enjoyment as Texas put together a four-run flurry in the ninth.

Bohi once ruled October. His San Francisco Giants won three titles in five years in the 2010s.He became known for his bullpen management. At 68, the skill hasn’t left him, even if the act of removing a pitcher has become more dangerous. Bochi walks like he has a rock in his shoe but he can’t tell which one. He was once so converted to the joys of walking that he wrote a book about it. But that was almost a decade ago, before his first retirement from management in 2019, after which he underwent a series of operations on his back, hips and knee. He spent the in-between hours golfing and fishing and feeling thankful he wasn’t involved in the 2020 season wrecked by Covid.

A little over a year ago, Bochy was back in the dugout. He wore the tricolor of France, the country of his birth, as he managed the club at the World Baseball Classic tryouts in Regensburg, Germany. The French were defeated, but the experience awakened something in Bossy. “I was like, ‘Man, I really miss this,'” he said before Game 5.

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Rosenthal: ‘He’s made for it’ – Rangers manager Bruce Bochy wins fourth World Series

The opportunity to return came from Young, who played for Bochy in San Diego in the 2000s. Young saw Bochy as the ideal candidate to shepherd the Rangers, a club filled with unproven young players and expensive free agents. Young visited Bochy at the retired governor’s home in Nashville and convinced him to return. The team intended to compete, but could not be sure of the timing. At times in 2023, Texas looked ready for primetime. At times, Rangers looked bound for a third-place finish and an October on the couch. The club have been on a rollercoaster ride, but they rode it all the way to November, showing the resilience and grit that befits a champion.

The Rangers refused to fold when their $185 million offseason addition Jacob de Grom required Tommy John surgery after just six starts. The team refused to fold when the Houston Astros clinched the American League West on the final day of the regular season and later beat Texas to make it three straight in the AL Championship Series. The team refused to fold when outfielder Adolis GarcΓ­a and starter Max Scherzer suffered season-ending injuries in Game 3 of the World Series.

After deGrom went down, Young wallpapered his starting rotation at the trade deadline. After Houston seized control of the ALCS, Texas crushed their in-state rivals in Games 6 and 7 on the road at Minute Maid Park. After Garcia and Schercher were injured, the Rangers kept humming along, running hard over Arizona’s relievers in Game 4 before finishing the job on Wednesday.

Game 5 cleansed the palate after a miserable, reliever Game 4. For Texas, Eovaldi racked up five walks and a load of walks. Arizona countered with Zac Gallen, its most complete starting pitcher. The series had gotten to this point because the Diamondbacks lacked depth in their rotation and bullpen.

Texas overwhelmed Arizona the first two nights at Chase Field. The Rangers pitching staff kept the Diamondbacks off the bases in Game 3. A night later, Seager and Marcus Semien turned manager Torey Lovullo’s game upside down. In the hours leading up to Game 5, Lovullo lamented that he didn’t intentionally walk Seager in the second inning of Game 4. When reliever Kyle Nelson hung a slider, Seager delivered his third home run. Lovullo then admitted that he agreed with his online detractors, a group he referred to as “basement keyboard hammerers.” The cellar dwellers, in this case, were right. “It wasn’t a great decision by me,” Lovullo said. “I have to get better, no doubt about it.”

Lovullo had fewer decisions to make early in Game 5. Gallen, Arizona’s last line of defense, took the field at 5:03 p.m. local time. Fireworks erupted over the park as Gallen led the Diamondbacks onto the diamond. For many years, as Arizona stumbled into the basement of the National League West, Gallen offered hope. A sluggish September cost him a shot at this season’s NL Cy Young Award. Galen encountered problems that had his first steps during this October. Arizona still trusted him to keep the season alive.

Gallen operated with pristine fastball command at the start of Game 5. He sat out the first 14 batters he faced. He used the heater to challenge the Rangers inside the strike zone and set up off-speed pitches outside the zone. In the first inning, he retired Seager with a nice changeup, 1-2. Seager fished for the pitch and was thrown out. Three innings later, Gallen made a change on the first pitch in a similar spot. Seager reached again and rolled a grounder to the right side of the infield. Seven of Gallen’s first 12 outs came on a groundout. He needed 35 pitches to complete four innings.

The Diamondbacks put a lot more stress on Eovaldi. Arizona rookie Corbin Carroll led off the first inning with a four-pitch walk and stole second on Eovaldi’s fifth pitch. Outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off the second with a single. Carroll recorded a hit of his own to start the third, with second baseman Ketel Marte walking behind him. In all three instances, Eovaldi retired the runners. After veteran forward Evan Longoria hit a two-run double in the fourth, Eovaldi didn’t panic. He caught No. 9 hitter Geraldo Perdomo looking at a 94 mph fastball to get out. Arizona went hitless in eight early at-bats with runners in scoring position.

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Nathan Eovaldi’s durable Game 5 epitomizes the Rangers’ championship run

Texas was taxing Gallen in the fifth. He was still keeping them off the board. Gurriel ran a nice drive from rookie third baseman Josh Jung into the left-center gap. A two-out walk by first baseman Nathaniel Lowe ended Gallen’s improbable bid for a perfect game. Gallen recovered by hitting Heim with a curveball in the dirt.

Eovaldi bent and bent and bent some more in the bottom of the inning. It didn’t break. Marte walked and first baseman Christian Walker laced a single into right field. A walk by designated hitter Tommy Pham loaded the bases. Rangers Pitching Coach Mike Maddux visited the mound. It’s unlikely he instructed Eovaldi to float a curveball at the top of the strike zone. But that’s what Eovaldi did β€” and Gurriel hit a curveball into Seager’s glove for the third out.

Gallen allowed his first hit in the seventh. Of course, it was Seager. His single lacked the sensational punch of his compatriots earlier in the series. He flipped to a curveball, again spotted by Gallen in the low quarter that confused Seager earlier in the game. This time, Seager cut enough of the baseball to launch it through the dirt near third base.

A miniature rally followed. Texas rookie Evan Carter laced a double off a missed curveball. Mitch Garver, the designated hitter, stroked a go-ahead single up the middle to score Seager and give Texas a 1-0 lead. Galen was applauded for his effort. He would still come out of the game on the hook for the tough loss.

Bohy turned to his trio of high-leverage relievers for the final nine outings. Aroldis Chapman got two. Bochy made the long trip to the mound to activate Sborz. Sborz finished the seventh and worked around a two-out walk in the eighth. The tension eased for Texas in the top of the ninth. Rangers collected three singles against Arizona closer Paul Sewald. The third, hit by Heim, went under the glove of center fielder Alec Thomas and drove in two runs.

The Texas dugout erupted as Heim’s ball rolled into the wall. Bochy stood on the top step. He offered one of his huge gloves for a high five as his players crossed the plate. He clapped his hands and smiled a few batters later when Semien put the champagne on ice with a two-run home run. Bochy could smile in the final three outs. He had stood on this summit before. He realized that he never grew old.

On a couch in Nashville, aboard Germany, a night like this might have been a dream. On Wednesday night, for the fourth time in his distinguished coaching career, Bochy could call himself a champion.

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(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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