The Texas Rangers have secured their spot in the postseason after defeating the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Friday night. The Rangers, who had not made the playoffs since 2016, celebrated their return to October baseball with a champagne shower in the clubhouse.
Rangers dominate Mariners with pitching and power
The Rangers, who entered the game with a magic number of one to clinch a playoff berth, wasted no time in taking control of the game. They scored four runs in the first inning, highlighted by a three-run homer by Adolis García, his 34th of the season. García, who is a leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year award, also added a solo shot in the fourth inning to extend the lead to 5-0.
The Rangers’ pitching staff was equally impressive, as they held the Mariners to just one run on four hits. Starter Dane Dunning pitched six scoreless innings, striking out six and walking none. He improved his record to 9-8 and lowered his ERA to 3.55. The bullpen took over from there, with Brett Martin, Joe Barlow and Spencer Patton each pitching a scoreless inning.
Astros lose to Diamondbacks, giving Rangers the AL West title
The Rangers’ win was not only enough to secure a wild card spot, but also to clinch the AL West division title. The Houston Astros, who were trailing the Rangers by two games entering Friday, lost 4-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, eliminating them from contention. The Astros had won the division for four consecutive years from 2017 to 2020, but could not catch up to the surging Rangers this year.
The Rangers will be the No. 2 seed in the AL playoffs, as they have a better record than the Minnesota Twins, who won the AL Central. The Rangers will host the winner of the best-of-three series between the Twins and the No. 3 wild card team, which will be either the Toronto Blue Jays or the Seattle Mariners. The Blue Jays currently hold a one-game lead over the Mariners for the final playoff spot.
Rangers end playoff drought with remarkable turnaround
The Rangers’ playoff clinch marks a remarkable turnaround for a team that had finished last in the AL West for three straight years from 2018 to 2020. The Rangers had a record of 22-38 in 2020, which was the second-worst in MLB. They also had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, as they traded away several veterans such as Mike Minor, Lance Lynn and Joey Gallo.
However, under first-year manager Chris Woodward, the Rangers have exceeded all expectations and become one of the most exciting teams in baseball. They have relied on a balanced offense that features García, Nate Lowe, Nick Solak and DJ Peters, as well as a solid pitching staff that includes Dunning, Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles and Ian Kennedy. The Rangers have also played with a lot of energy and passion, as they have won many close games and comebacks.
The Rangers will look to continue their Cinderella story in the postseason, as they aim for their first World Series title in franchise history. They have reached the World Series twice before, in 2010 and 2011, but lost both times.