For the third time in team history, the Texas Rangers are headed to the American League Championship Series. The ALDS culminated with a convincing 7 to 1 victory at Globe Life Field Wednesday night. But how did they get there? We remember most of the big events. But what led up to those? See if you can remember these, and the impact they had at the time.
Game 1, bottom of the 4th, two outs, Adam Frazier pinch hits with Texas leading 2 to 1
The Rangers had just taken the first lead of the series in the top half of the fourth. Other than a first inning single by Anthony Santander, Texas starter Andrew Heaney had pitched well. But needing a shutdown inning, Heaney seemingly ran out of gas. He retired Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman on a deep fly ball to center field, but then surrendered a walk to Santander on a pretty tough seven pitch at bat. Then on the very next pitch, Ryan Mountcastle roped a double down the left field line to breathe life into the Camden Yards faithful and put Baltimore on the board.
After coaxing Gunnar Henderson into a fly out, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy decided Heaney had accomplished all he could for the afternoon and called on righthander Dane Dunning. At first, the situation seemed to get worse. Dunning walked Aaron Hicks, bringing pinch hitter Adam Frazier to the dish with runners on first and second.
The right-handed-hitting rookie Jordan Westburg had originally started the game in the number seven slot because of the lefty Heaney going for Texas. And although baseball rhetoric favors going to a left-handed bat to face a righty on the mound, one can't help but wonder how that decision changed things.
On a 2-1 pitch, Dunning issues a 90 MPH four-seamer high above the strike zone. Frazier cuts at it, sending it highly and harmlessly into the air for first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, who records the third and final out of the inning. This allowed the Rangers to stay in front, and they avoided what could have been a much bigger rally for the Orioles than just the one run they plated.
Westburg hit .246 during the regular season against righties, a mere two points less than Frazier. Yes, Frazier had an OBP about 20 points higher, but a walk would have loaded the bases for the light-hitting Cedric Mullins, who doesn't walk that often and had just batted .233 during the regular season. And while Dunning was a much better pitcher in the regular season against right-handed hitters, it's conceivable that the Orioles went to the bench a bit too early. In any case, the decision led to the third out, killing a potential rally for the O's.