Arizona Diamondbacks at Texas Rangers, World Series Game 1: Rangers 6, D-backs 5 (Texas leads 1-0)
The Rangers' outfielder, one of this postseason’s breakout stars, hit a walk-off homer in the 11th inning Friday to give his team a comeback win and a World Series opener for the ages. Facing D-backs reliever Miguel Castro, García got ahead 3-1, then punished — and we mean absolutely punished — the only pitch of the at-bat that hit the strike zone.
That was the final hit of a 3-for-4 night for García, who is batting .357 with a 1.204 OPS in the 2023 playoffs. The homer was his 22nd RBI of the postseason, breaking a tie with David Freese in 2011 for the most by a player in a single postseason. García had tied Freese with an RBI in the first inning.
Pretty good for a player who was designated for assignment by the St. Louis Cardinals less than four years ago. Pretty good for a player any team could've had for free before the 2021 season, when the Rangers also DFA’d and outrighted García to the minors. Heck, it’s pretty good for a player who was an All-Star this year, as García was.
García was the MVP of the ALCS after hitting 15 of his postseason RBI in that series to set another record. He became Houston’s greatest enemy after a Game 5 dustup over an allegedly retaliatory hit-by-pitch, which made García's five homers in the final four games of the series truly epic.
World Series Game 1 saw both teams erase multi-run leads, with the D-backs fighting back from a 2-0 deficit after the first inning and the Rangers finding life after being down two in the ninth inning. Entering Friday, teams were 8-466 after trailing by multiple runs in the ninth inning of the World Series.
They are now 9-466.
The Rangers were down two runs in the bottom of the ninth. The Diamondbacks had closer Paul Sewald, who hadn’t allowed a run since Sept. 15, on the mound. Corey Seager came to the plate with a man on and one out.
Then the Rangers’ shortstop hit a $325 million home run.
The Rangers paid up big for Seager two winters ago, hoping he could be the postseason monster he showed himself to be at their own Globe Life Field in 2020 with the Dodgers, and he was that and more with the game-tying homer in Game 1.
Seager, not known for being the most emotive player, was pretty jazzed as he jogged toward first base.
— MLB (@MLB) October 28, 2023
Sewald got into a little more trouble with a two-out Adolis García hit-by-pitch and stolen base, but he got out of it to send the game to extras for the first time this postseason.
Between Seager’s homer and García’s homer, someone had to hold things down for the Rangers against a Diamondbacks lineup that alternates between pesky and torturous. That person was closer José Leclerc.
José Leclerc, Wicked 85mph Slider. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/eiMZmIN2K4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 28, 2023
Leclerc gave up runs in two of his past three appearances against the Astros in the ALCS, but he was lights-out Friday against Arizona, posting two perfect innings in the 10th and 11th, with two strikeouts.