ARLINGTON, Texas — Adolis García took a few steps while watching the ball before tossing his bat aside after another big swing this postseason. This one won an extended Game 1 of the World Series for the Texas Rangers.
Once his drive cleared the right-field wall in the bottom of the 11th, two innings after Corey Seager’s tying two-run homer, García thrust his right arm high into the air as he started a trot around the bases that ended with him being mobbed at home plate — and a 6-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to start this surprise World Series of wild-card teams Friday night.
“He’s on another planet,” Rangers rookie Josh Jung said. “Every time he steps into the box it’s like, grab your popcorn. … I have no words. It’s just like, wow.”
Miguel Castro entered to face García with one out, and the Cuban slugger known as El Bombi drove a 3-1 sinker the other way into the second row of seats beyond a leaping Corbin Carroll. It was García’s second RBI of the game, setting a record for most in one postseason with 22.
García has homered in five consecutive games, tied for the second-longest streak in postseason history, and he delivered the first walk-off homer in the World Series since Max Muncy connected leading off the 18th inning of Game 3 for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 against Boston and Nathan Eovaldi — who started for the Rangers in this one.
“It was an exciting moment,” García said. “I was just looking to the dugout, looking at all my (happy) teammates.”
García, the AL Championship Series MVP, also had an RBI single in the first following rookie Evan Carter’s run-scoring double. He finished with three hits and reached base five times.
He was hit on the left hand by a 92 mph fastball in the ninth but shook it off and promptly stole second base.
“I got lucky that it’s nothing worse,” García said.
In the first extra-inning game of this postseason, Texas became the first team to win a World Series game when trailing by multiple runs in the ninth since the 2015 Kansas City Royals in their clinching Game 5 against the New York Mets.
Game 2 is Saturday night in Texas, with Merrill Kelly scheduled to pitch for Arizona against Jordan Montgomery.
Seager tied it in the ninth when he drove closer Paul Sewald’s 94 mph fastball 419 feet deep into the right-field seats with one out after the inning began with No. 9 hitter Leody Taveras drawing a walk.
“Everyone just started jumping for joy,” García said. “We were able to exhale.”
Usually pretty stoic, Seager had another emphatic show of emotion this postseason, immediately turning and yelling toward the dugout with the ball headed for the seats. He thrust both arms into the air when he rounded first base.
“He might have turned it up a notch, to be honest. He saved us there,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You can see it in him. He gets everybody fired up.”
José Leclerc retired all six batters he faced for the win, and five Texas relievers combined for 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
The blown save for Sewald, first in seven chances this postseason, was the first glaring blip for a Diamondbacks bullpen that’s been brilliant in October.
“It’s frustrating. This is how the game goes sometimes. And we’ve got to find a way to be resilient and adaptable and come out with a clean mind and do our best,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “I have every reason to believe we will. We’ve done it a lot this year.”
Seager’s tying shot was similar to the solo homer he hit in Game 7 of the ALCS in Houston four nights earlier, and the reaction was as well. That one put the Rangers ahead to stay in the clincher, with the All-Star shortstop giving a massive hand slap to third base coach Tony Beasley and jumping in the dugout with his teammates.
“Just excitement. This is fun. This is playoffs. This is kind of what it’s all about,” Seager said. “It was a cool moment, for sure.”
Game 1 of the World Series went to extra innings for the second year in a row — which had never happened. Unlike the regular season, there are no automatic runners placed at second base to start extra innings in the postseason.
Arizona had a 4-3 lead after Tommy Pham hit a tiebreaking homer leading off the fourth. An inning later, Ketel Marte’s RBI double matched a record by stretching his postseason hitting streak to 17 games.
Carroll hit a two-run triple for the Diamondbacks and dashed home on Marte’s grounder in the third. Texas tied it in the bottom half when Zac Gallen walked Mitch Garver with the bases loaded.
Gallen made it through five innings with a gritty effort for Arizona after the NL All-Star starter trailed 2-0 only four batters into the game. He equaled his season high with four walks.
Ryan Thompson, Joe Mantiply and Kevin Ginkel each pitched a scoreless inning — though the latter had to endure a 28-pitch eighth — before Sewald came into the game.
Two seasons after both teams lost more than 100 games, the Diamondbacks and Rangers are matched up in the third all-wild card World Series — and first since 2014.
These runnin’ Diamondbacks had four stolen bases, and their 20 this postseason are the most by any team since the 2008 Tampa Bay Rays set the record with 24. Arizona even had quite a rarity in its three-run third inning, when it had a sacrifice bunt, a triple and a stolen base.
Eovaldi’s eight strikeouts were the most by a Texas pitcher in a World Series game, but the big right-hander allowed five runs over 4 2/3 innings after have given up only five runs total while winning his first four starts this postseason.
Both teams got this far after having to win Games 6 and 7 of their respective League Championship Series on the road, which had never happened in both LCS matchups since those series expected to a best-of-seven format in 1985.
“It’s going to be a really good series,” García said.
NOW AND THEN
Evan Longoria’s single for Arizona in the third matched his hit total in the 2008 World Series, when as a rookie with the Rays he finished 1 for 20. He became the first position player in MLB history to appear in a World Series 15 years after first playing in the Fall Classic. He also become the fourth player with a World Series hit at both age 23 or younger AND 38 or older. The others: Eddie Murray, Pee Wee Reese and Willie Mays.
Kelly, a 35-year-old right-hander, is 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three postseason starts.
Montgomery pitches for the Rangers on normal rest after the left-hander threw 2 1/3 innings Monday in relief to win Game 7 of the ALCS against Houston. The 30-year-old trade-deadline acquisition and pending free agent is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA this postseason.