World Series

A quick note on Game 2 of the Rangers-Diamondbacks series: yesterday the Diamondbacks bounced back from a heartbreaking extra-inning loss in Dallas to whump the Rangers, 9-1. Arizona struck out only two times the whole game. With 16 hits. I wonder if the Twins were watching.

Post mortem: I was part of why this was the least watched World Series on TV. Texas v. Arizona with a lot of new names just wasn’t as captivating as the matchup we expected, Phillies v. Astros. Other than Game 1, the games weren’t that close, either. The concluding game was tight until the Rangers ran away at the end, 5-1, but still that was only Game 5. Corey Seager was the deserving MVP, which gave Twins fans some hope that his counterpart, Carlos Correa, might play such a role in the future. Rather than anointing a Series hero – a la Jordan Alvarez or Adolis Garcia in division championships this year – I was struck by one goat (in the negative sense, not the “greatest”) who almost singlehandedly determined the Diamondbacks’ quick exit, with an assist from another teammate. I had never heard of Christian Walker before, but he showed up at the pivotal moment of three separate losses. In Game 3, when Series’ dominance was on the line, he ran through a belated stop sign by his third-base coach and made the inning’s first out at home plate. Instead of runners on first and third with no outs, Arizona failed to score, and in their next turn at bat the Rangers broke the scoreless tie and gained momentum that carried them to victory. In Game 4, Walker (a Gold Glover, we were told), muffed a ground ball in the third inning, which led to five unearned runs and put the game out of reach (although the final 11-7 score was within that five-run margin of error). Then Game 5 was a scoreless pitcher’s duel, with the D’back’s Zac Gallen throwing a no-hitter through six innings. Nathan Eovaldi, on the other hand, was in constant trouble over the same span. Most significantly, somewhere around the fourth inning, Arizona’s first two batters hit singles. Sensing the importance of scoring first, Arizona had its #3 hitter lay down a sacrifice bunt (his first of the year) to move both runners into scoring position and bring up the cleanup hitter, Walker. The middle infielders played back, willing to concede a run on a ground ball. But Walker struck out, and when the next batter hit a grounder to short it was the third out. The Diamondbacks’ best chance was gone, as was their momentum and perhaps their spirit. They never scored until they were down 5-0 in the ninth. Three game-changing plays, all by Walker. The secondary goat was Arizona’s closer Paul Sewald, who entered the Series with six saves and no runs allowed in the postseason. The two-run homer he gave up to Seager in the ninth was the decisive play in the Game 1 loss, and the four runs he allowed in the ninth in Game 5 made sure there was no comeback there.

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