The Texas Rangers turned the tables on the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the World Series Friday night, stunning the team that had made a habit of comeback wins with a pair of home runs in the latter innings for a thrilling 6-5 win in 11 innings.
Corey Seager erased a two-run deficit with a ninth-inning blast off Arizona closer Paul Sewald, who had looked unhittable through most of the post-season, and then Adolis García hit the first walk-off home run in Game 1 of a World Series since Kirk Gibson’s famous blast off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 Fall Classic. García has homered in five straight post-season games, leaving him one shy of the MLB record.
Bet on Diamondbacks vs. Rangers GM2
The sudden Texas victory – only the team’s second at home this entire post-season – raises an ominous question for Arizona. Rarely does the team with less power win a World Series – the last team to do it was the 2015 Kansas City Royals – and Texas out-homered Arizona 233-166 during the regular season.
The teams resume the series Saturday night at 8:03 ET in Game 2, with the Rangers yet again sizeable favourites.
Diamondbacks vs. Rangers odds
|Diamondbacks Moneyline Odds||+125|
|Rangers Moneyline Odds||-145|
|Runline odds||Rangers -1.5 (+145), Diamondbacks +1.5 (-165)|
|Series odds||Rangers -310, Diamondbacks +250|
|Over/Under||8.5 runs (over -115, under -105)|
|Time/Date||Oct. 28, 8:03 p.m. ET|
About the Diamondbacks (84-78 SU, 85-76 ATS, 69-84-8 o/u)
This team certainly should be popular with fans nostalgic for the way baseball was played in the 1980s and early 1990s. The Diamondbacks have taken advantage of rule changes that limit the number of throwovers from opposing pitchers and have increased the size of the bases by creating havoc with their speed. They erased an early deficit by scoring three runs without the benefit of a long ball in the third inning of Game 1. A couple of singles, a sacrifice bunt – imagine that – and a Corbin Carroll triple and fielder’s choice did the trick. The Diamondbacks were able to get to a pitcher nobody else had – Nathan Eovaldi, who was 4-0 in his four previous post-season starts.
Arizona’s speed is particularly noticeable when they are on defence, but there’s no way to defend a home run and the fact Texas already has dented a previously dominant closer is of concern to this team, which suddenly looks vulnerable. Then again, Arizona overcame long odds to win two games in Philadelphia to get this far, so it would be foolish to count them out at this point.
About the Rangers (90-72 SU, 87-74 ATS, 81-69-11 o/u)
This Texas team seems awfully determined to win the franchise’s first-ever World Series and it certainly has the lineup to get it done. In fact, this group of young hitters could terrorize the AL West and pitchers all over baseball for another five years or so.
García, 30, is a late bloomer who was traded for cash by the St. Louis Cardinals and designated for assignment at one point by the Rangers themselves. Seager and Trevor Semien were high-priced free-agent acquisitions. Mitch Garver and Nathaniel Lowe also came from elsewhere. But the remainder of this lineup is homegrown and under 29 years old. Evan Carter, 21, and Leodys Taveras, 25, could be future MVP candidates. Heck, Carter looks like one now. He has a .992 OPS this post-season.
Texas’s biggest concern was its bullpen entering October, but it hasn’t been nearly the issue some thought it might be. That tends to happen in October because teams are able to use spare starters in relief. Starters Dane Dunning and Jon Gray both made shutout relief appearances in Friday’s game, then rubber-armed closer José Leclerc locked down the final two innings.
Rangers to win World Series
Arizona: RHP Merrill Kelly (2-1, 2.65 ERA, 10.05 K/9, 1.00 WHIP)
One could argue Kelly should have gotten the Game 1 start based on post-season success, but the Rangers went with Zac Gallen, their regular-season Cy Young contender. Kelly will be making his fourth start of this post-season. He blanked the Dodgers over 6 1/3 innings in the first round, holding them to just three hits, then confined the damage of three Philadelphia Phillies home runs to four runs over 5 1/3 innings in what turned into a 10-0 loss in the National League Championship Series. He and his team bounced back to hold Philly to just one run over five innings in Arizona’s Game 6 win at Citizens Bank Park. Kelly’s fastball, which averages 92 mph, has pedestrian velocity by today’s standards, but he has excellent command and his off-speed stuff – primarily, a changeup, cutter and curveball – is among the best in the game.
Texas: LHP Jordan Montgomery (3-0, 2.16 ERA, 6.12 K/9, 1.28 WHIP)
Montgomery went from looking like one of the big prizes in next month’s free-agent period to looking like a must-have for teams trying to win a World Series. He has been that dominant this month. Yet Montgomery’s dominance is different than other pitchers in that he isn’t much of a strikeout guy. His pinpoint command and array of off-speed stuff all are designed to induce weak contact and, thus far, it has worked beautifully. It’s remarkable to consider that the New York Yankees traded them while they were still in contention in 2022 and the Cardinals dumped him to Texas about a year later. Montgomery will be making his fifth start this post-season and all but one – vs. the Baltimore Orioles – were brilliant. He also pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings of relief against the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.
While there may be some lingering thunderstorms Saturday evening, it won’t matter as the roof almost certainly will be closed at Globe Life Field.
- The Diamondbacks have been on the losing end of three World Series games in which they led by more than one run in the ninth inning or later, a new record. The only other team with even two such losses was the Athletics when they were in Philadelphia in 1911 and 1914.
- Arizona now has four games with at least four stolen bases, the most by a team in a single post-season. Arizona has done it in three games in a row. Carroll is +290 to steal at least one base while Lourdes Gurriel and Gabriel Moreno both are a whopping +1425. A better bet might be Tommy Pham at +425.
- Bear in mind that this is the first World Series ever in which both ballparks have roofs. That means run totals might tend to exceed the totals set, as it did Friday. World Series games typically have been played in blustery conditions that favour pitchers.
Player prop trends
- García now has homered in five straight post-season games, which trails only Daniel Murphy’s 2015 feat in MLB history. Can he do it again? Can he do it again? He’s +230 at Bet365, the lowest odds on the board.
- García also has produced 22 RBIs this post-season, setting a new MLB record (though changing playoff formats have made this something of a silly stat). He’s even money to drive in at least one run.
- Ketel Marte has a hit in 17 straight post-season games. That’s a bit misleading considering the first of those came way back in 2017, but it would still go in the record books as an all-time high if he picks up another base hit Saturday. Marte is +205 to exceed over 1.5 hits in this one.
- Carter became the third-youngest player with multiple extra-base hits in a World Series game, joining Andruw Jones and Juan Soto. He’s -180 to exceed 0.5 total bases on Saturday.
Wagers to consider
- This Texas lineup and Montgomery are a difficult proposition to pass up at reasonable odds here. Arizona has been a remarkable story, but the regular season proved that this simply isn’t a great team. While both teams are being painted as surprising participants, Texas has a far better roster with huge advantages in starting pitching and hitting. Laying -160 odds isn’t a bad way to go in this one.
- García’s streak looks as legit as they come. It got swallowed up in the excitement of that final swing, but he was on base a whopping five times Friday night. Rather than ride his home run train, another strategy is to lay -110 odds he can exceed 1.5 total bases in this one. The way he is seeing the ball, those are awfully tempting odds.