World Series 2023: Texas Rangers grind out victory in Game 3, hold 2-1 series lead over Arizona Diamondbacks

Max Scherzer and Adolis García both left Monday's game due to possible injuries

The Texas Rangers got a late scare and lost two key players to injury Monday.

But they walked away with a 3-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 3, taking a 2-1 lead in the World Series. They did so while getting just three innings out of starter Max Scherzer.

Texas Rangers at Arizona Diamondbacks, World Series Game 3: Rangers 3, D-backs 1 (Texas leads 2-1)

Game summary:

The three-time Cy Young winner didn’t allow a run in his three innings, which included working out of a jam in the second. But Scherzer experienced back tightness while warming up for the fourth inning and ceded the mound to reliever Jon Gray.

Rookie Diamondbacks starter Brandon Pfaadt, meanwhile, pitched two scoreless innings before the Rangers tagged him for three runs in the third. Marcus Semien scored Nathaniel Lowe from third base on a two-out single in the top of the inning. Corey Seager sent the next pitch into the right-field stands to extend the Texas lead to 3-0.

They were the only runs Pfaadt would allow in 5 1/3 innings pitched. But they were enough to secure the Texas win.

The Rangers bullpen kept the Diamondbacks off the board until a Geraldo Perdomo single off Aroldis Chapman scored Emmanuel Rivera from second in the eighth, putting the tying run at the plate with no outs. But Chapman struck out Corbin Carroll, then induced a double-play off the bat of Ketel Marte to end the inning.

Closer José Leclerc finished the job with a scoreless ninth.

Scherzer’s status moving forward is unclear. As is that of Adolis García. The ALCS MVP left the game after experiencing left-side tightness on an awkward swing in the the eighth inning. Losing either or both would be a significant blow for the Rangers moving forward.

Key moment:

Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker entered Game 3 mired in a slump, batting .180 with a home run and seven RBI in 50 postseason at-bats. He appeared to break out of it in dramatic fashion in the second inning. Then disaster struck.

With the game scoreless, Walker hit a leadoff double off Scherzer. In the next at-bat, Tommy Pham dropped a line drive into right-center field, setting up a prime scoring opportunity.

Third-base coach Tony Perezchica initially waved Walker home as he approached third. But when he saw García field the ball, the coach threw up a stop sign. Walker didn’t see it and rounded third on his way home. Then García threw a strike from right field, and catcher Jonah Heim easily tagged Walker out at home.

Instead of runners on first and third with no outs, the Diamondbacks ended up with Pham on second and one out. Scherzer then induced a popup and a groundout, and Arizona finished an excruciating scoreless second inning.

Making matters worse for Arizona, Seager clobbered his two-run home run the next inning. Overall, it was a missed golden opportunity for the Diamondbacks, a difficult moment for the still-slumping Walker and a massive momentum shift in this low-scoring game.

Impact player:

Jon Gray wasn’t supposed to join Game 3 in the fourth inning. But Scherzer’s injury forced a change of plans, and Gray delivered when his name was called.

The Rangers reliever took over for Scherzer in the top of the fourth with Texas holding a 3-0 lead. He started with a strikeout of Gabriel Moreno to spark a 1-2-3 inning. In the fifth, he sat down Gurriel Jr., Thomas and Evan Longoria in order. He allowed a single to Ketel Marte in the sixth but no further damage.

Gray finished his night after three innings, having allowed one hit, no walks and no runs while striking out three. It was a World Series moment that Gray and Rangers fans won’t soon forget — especially if the Rangers go on to win this series.

What’s next?

Game 4 is at 8:03 p.m. ET Tuesday in Phoenix. Left-hander Andrew Heaney will get the start for the Rangers, and the D-backs will give the ball to lefty Joe Mantiply in a bullpen start.