Rangers take 3-1 lead over Diamondbacks


A cloud of negativity seemed to be hanging over Rangers before Game 4, despite having a 2-1 lead in the World Series. Adolis García had been one of their offensive superstars in the postseason, having already set an MLB record for RBI in a single postseason, but he had to be removed from the World Series roster due to an oblique injury. Max Scherzer was also removed. The Rangers had to scramble and replace two key players just hours before Game 4.

Fortunately, this team is well-suited to deal with injury adversity. Remember, Jacob deGrom was lost for the season. Corey Seager only played in 119 regular-season games. Nathan Eovaldi missed a large chunk of the second half. An Adolis García injury is what triggered the Evan Carter promotion in September. And those are only the biggest names. The point is, this team has proven itself built to withstand injury adversity. 

"This team has dealt with it many times," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It started early in the season. You go with deGrom. We lost Corey Seager for a while. We lost Doli, Jonah Heim. I could keep going there.

"And I can't say enough about the mental toughness about this club and the resilience they have shown. They don't get down. There's no point in it. They understand you have to focus forward. And they've done that. Sure, it's not great news. You hate to lose your cleanup hitter, but it happened. And the only thing we can do is handle it in the right way, and this club has done it all year. That's why I'm so proud of them."

General manager Chris Young had to have an emergency press conference before the game to announce the removal of García and Scherzer from the roster. And he sort of called his shot (or called the shot on behalf of his players). 

"It's been a theme of our team," Young said on overcoming injuries. "It's kind of the next-man-up mentality. Our guys don't feel sorry for themselves, and I love that. That's a true characteristic of the Texas Rangers, and I'm proud of that. And I'm sure the guys will respond in the same manner that they have all year."

Sure enough, they went out in Game 4 and kicked the Diamondbacks' teeth in, exploding for five runs in each the second and third innings, going on to win 11-7. The building resembled a library more than a baseball park before the Diamondbacks had even batted a third time, and the final score made the game look closer than it actually was. 

Shortstop and World Series MVP favorite Corey Seager was in the middle of it, unsurprisingly. Let's highlight the performances of two others, though. 

Leadoff man Marcus Semien had struggled pretty mightily for much of the playoffs while Travis Jankowski was only in the lineup due to García's injury. Both were integral to the Rangers' bloodbath of a victory in Game 4. 

Semien actually entered Game 4 on a five-game hitting streak, but he was still only hitting .197/.264/.227 in the playoffs. He got a big hit in front of Seager's home run in Game 3, with those two hits providing the only runs the Rangers would need to win. This time around, he was a major part of the dueling five-run rallies. 

Jankowski had only two plate appearances so far in the playoffs, serving as the fourth or even fifth outfielder for the Rangers. He was forced into action and took full advantage. 

Things started in the second. The Rangers got one run on a wild pitch and then Jankowski came to the plate with a runner on base and two outs. He singled, paving the way for Semien's two-RBI triple that gave the Rangers some early breathing room. 

Seager, of course, followed with a homer. That's what he does, as he now has 19 career postseason homers. 

Next inning, Jankowski and Semien were back at it. With two outs and the bases loaded, Jankowski doubled home two. And then Semien hit his first home run of the postseason after clubbing 29 during the regular season. 

The Rangers were already in control of this game, but those swings from Jankowski and Semien effectively put it away. Since it happened on Halloween, it seems fitting to say those were the nails in the coffin. 

For Semien, he had five RBI for the first time in his playoff career. Hell, he's only had seven five-RBI games in his entire regular-season career. This was legitimately one of the best games of his career, especially given the circumstances. Further, Semien jones Davey Lopes (1978 Game 1) and Dan Gladden (1987 Game 1) as the only leadoff men in World Series history to collect five RBI in a game. 

Jankowski had two hits, two RBI and two runs. The career part-time player had only previously done that four times in his career and he accomplished it via his first two at-bats of Game 4. Getting that production from the nine hole is huge. 

"It's kind of been the mentality of this team," Jankowski said of his great game. "We haven't had the healthiest of seasons, so it's a 'next man up' mentality. That's top-to-bottom a team effort." 

He also pointed out how badly he wanted to perform for García. 

"He deserves to be out there, so that's when you pull together as a team and say, 'hey, let's do this for the guy who can't go out there.'"

"When it comes to a superstar player like Adolis, you don't replace him," he said on the broadcast after the game. "You just go out, play your game and hope the team rallies around it."

They did. 

To reiterate a point made above, too, the Rangers did all this damage with two outs. It doesn't get much more clutch than that. 

Seager absolutely deserves credit for the monster series he's having. The Rangers pitchers in this game deserve a ton of praise, specifically Andrew Heaney, as it looked like it would be a bullpen game and he ended up looking more like a main character. Semien busting through in a big way and Jankowski stepping up with his new-found opportunity were just as important, though. 

After those two individual efforts, the Rangers have to be confident in winning this World Series, despite having to replace one of their most important players just hours before the game. They've been a "next man up" team all season, so it makes sense that it would be no different in the World Series. 

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