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ARLINGTON, Texas — Corey Seager is still going deep into the postseason at Texas. This time he does it for the Rangers, who line up throughout October.
Seager and Adolis Garcia fell early, Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven smooth innings in another playoff clincher and Texas swept the AL Division Series 7-1 over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 on Tuesday night.
“We’ve been playing good ball,” Seager said. “We can’t say enough about what our pitching staff has been able to do.”
The Rangers lost in Seattle on the final day of the regular season to replace the AL West champion as the wild-card team, and they won all five postseason games. They are going to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2011.
“We’re down on the road against Tampa and Baltimore. It shows the toughness of this ballclub and the deal to fly to Tampa,” said Texas manager Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco who is now heading to his first ALCS. “Believe me, they wanted to win one more game badly. Didn’t happen. … They put it behind them.”
The AL East champion Orioles, who have won a league-high 101 games, are the only team in baseball not to be swept in a series during the regular season, but now are doing so after a sweep at the most inopportune time. The Orioles are only the second team in MLB history to go through an undefeated regular season and be swept in the postseason. The 1998 Padres were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.
Baltimore has lost eight straight playoff games over the past 10 seasons.
“Really proud of our team. They defied all the odds. Nobody gave us a chance,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “These guys have played their game for six months. Unfortunately, we haven’t played well in these last three.”
It was the Rangers’ first playoff game at Globe Life Field, which was brand new in 2020 when it hosted much of MLB’s neutral postseason during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Los Angeles Dodgers spent most of October there, and Seager was MVP in both the NLCS and World Series. A year later, the shortstop moved to Texas on a $325 million, 10-year deal, and now occupies the same locker he did in a highly unusual postseason with limited attendance.
A full house for his first home playoff game with the Rangers, when Seager connected on his first at-bat, ripping a 445-foot home run into the right-field seats, sending the record sellout crowd of 40,861 into a frenzy. He went deep seven times for the Dodgers here in 2020.
“That’s what he does. He’s done it before in big moments,” said second baseman Marcus Siemian, who signed with Texas for $175 million. “He’s picking up his game in the playoffs. It’s going to be fun to see what he can do as we go along.”
Garcia’s three-run homer — hailed as an All-Star slugger taking a few slow steps out of the batter’s box — made it 6-0 in the second to chase Orioles right-hander Dean Creamer, the Israeli-American pitcher-maker. His first career postseason start.
Nathaniel Lowe also homered for Texas, a solo shot in the sixth. Lowe led off the Rangers’ second inning with a lineout to left, but that came on the 15th pitch of the at-bat after fouling off nine two-strike pitches.
“I saw a team that was really motivated,” Bochy said. “Crime, everyone was doing something to contribute.”
Seager was one of five Texas hitters to start for the AL in this year’s All-Star Game. It’s a perfect fit for Bochy, who was hired last offseason by Rangers general manager Chris Young, one of the manager’s former pitchers in San Diego.
An All-Star in his first season with the Rangers, Ewald won both games this postseason to clinch the series. It was the right-hander’s longest and best two starts since missing seven weeks in September with a right forearm strain.
Ewald threw 76 98 pitches with no walks. He chanted his name as he left the mound after the seventh — and was then dug out by Garcia to show the crowd his hat. Ewaldi also won the wild-card series clincher last Wednesday at Tampa Bay.
“I never had a curtain or anything like that, but our fans brought it all night,” he said. “When I went out at 6:30 this evening, they were chanting ‘Let’s go Rangers’. I knew it was going to be a good night for us.”
Jose Leclerc got the final four outs, the first with the bases loaded in the eighth, sparking an inning-ending groundout by pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks, who hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 2. .
When Leclerc struck out Jordan Westburg to end the game, celebratory fireworks erupted inside the ballpark, leading to a perfect ninth.
Creamer’s 1⅔ innings marked his shortest outing all season. The 27-year-old wore a David necklace as usual, with thoughts of extended family members in Israel, following a deadly incursion by the militant group Hamas, which declared war. His mother was into sports.
Creamer was 13-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 32 regular-season starts that included Baltimore’s two wins: a playoff berth on September 17th and the team’s 100th win 11 days later to win the AL East.
“Offensively, we weren’t at our best the last two, three weeks of the season. It carried over into the postseason for us, where we guys battled,” Hyde said. “They rolled with a ton of speed. I don’t think we rolled with a ton of speed offensively.”
The Rangers now wait to see if they will travel to Houston or Minnesota for Game 1 of the ALCS on Sunday.
ESPN Stats & Info and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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