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    World Series: Diamondbacks bring receipts into surprise matchup against Rangers
    • October 27, 2023

    By RONALD BLUM AP Baseball Writer

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Before opening the World Series, the Arizona Diamondbacks wanted to recount a series of slights.

    Overlooked by oddsmakers and angered by analysts, the Diamondbacks find themselves in a Surprise Series against the also unexpected Texas Rangers. But the mindsets couldn’t be more different ahead of Friday night’s opener in MLB’s third all-wild card title matchup.

    “We just put it on our list and keep those receipts and walk around with a little bit more of a chip on our shoulder,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said Thursday. “It gives you a little bit more motivation. And when you can get a little bit more, you take it.”

    Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald has become the keeper of the receipts, reminding teammates of what they consider disrespect.

    “Maybe I found screenshots that maybe other people didn’t,” he said, wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed “Snakes Alive.” “We took offense to that and we’re excited that we’re here and people are still not giving us that much credit here.”

    The Diamondbacks are tracking closely what the public says, with MLB Network a clubhouse constant. Meanwhile, the Rangers insist they pay no attention.

    “We don’t listen to the outside noise that much,” second baseman Marcus Semien said.

    Zac Gallen, a 28-year-old right-hander coming off a career-best 17-win season, starts Game 1 for the Diamondbacks, who are in the Fall Classic for the first time since beating the New York Yankees for the franchise’s only title in 2001. Texas starts Nathan Eovaldi, a 33-year-old right-hander and a two-time All-Star who has overcome two Tommy John surgeries.

    Gallen, who grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, followed the pennant-winning Game 7 victory over the Phillies with a tweet highlighting the losing team’s spring training and reminded Philadelphia fans to “make sure to get those tix for your next game.” When the Phillies led the NLCS 2-0, backup catcher Garrett Stubbs talked about celebrating in the Chase Field pool. Gallen responded to what he said were online direct messages.

    “I just figured if they want to talk junk to me, I’ll say one back,” he said. “And I feel like being from there, I knew how to hit them the hardest.”

    Both teams worked out Thursday under a closed roof at Globe Life Field, where World Series logos were freshly painted on the turf. Both clubs are two years removed from 100-loss seasons, and the Diamondbacks could become just the second champion with a negative run differential after the 1987 Minnesota Twins.

    Arizona went 84-78 during the season and earned the NL’s sixth and last postseason berth, finishing with what would be the second-fewest wins for a Series champion behind the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals’ 83. The Rangers were 90-72 and got the fifth American League slot.

    Texas hasn’t won a title since the franchise started play as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, and the odds of a Diamondbacks-Rangers Series were 1,750-to-1 when wagering for the 2023 season opened.

    “We weren’t concerned with what people thought of us,” said first-year Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, who led the San Francisco Giants to three titles from 2010-14. “We thought we belonged and we thought we could win.”

    Lovullo, excited about his first Series as a manager, opened his news conference by snapping a photo of assembled media “just to break the ice.” He had a message for MLB Network’s Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who promised before Game 6 against the Phillies to “retire on the spot” if Arizona won the pennant.

    “You can’t back out of that one, Mad Dog. You’ve got to do something,” Lovullo said. “I do like Howard Stern’s thought about walking with a billboard saying that I am whatever, a liar … in Midtown Manhattan for half a day. That will do it for me, but I ain’t going to forgive you until you do something unbelievable, maybe show up here and say you’re sorry to the entire team.”


    Eovaldi is 4-0 in this postseason. He was to have started Game 4 of the 2018 World Series for Boston but instead relieved in the 12th inning of Game 3 and delivered a memorable performance before giving up Max Muncy’s winning home run leading off the 18th for the Dodgers.

    “I kind of had my moment there,” Eovaldi said. “Having Game 1, trying to set a tone for the team, there’s a lot of pressure with that, but also a lot of excitement.”


    Arizona had the fewest errors in the major leagues during the season (56), one less than Texas. The Diamondbacks have allowed three unearned runs during the postseason and the Rangers one.


    Lovullo, 58 and in his seventh season as a big league manager, effusively praised the 68-year-old Bochy, in his 26th. Lovullo recalled giving Bochy a gift during his last season with San Francisco in 2019.

    “It’s been an absolute honor to manage against you. I hope you find your way back to doing this one day,” Lovullo recalled saying, adding Bochy responded: “If I do, it will be an honor to be managing against you, as well.”

    “I couldn’t believe he said that to me,” Lovullo said. “I was just honored to be in his presence. And I will be for these next nine days.”


    A capsule look at the best-of-seven World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers:

    SCHEDULE (all times PT, all games on Fox/Ch. 11)

    Game 1 – Friday, at Arlington, Texas, 5:03 p.m.

    Game 2 – Saturday, at Arlington, Texas, 5:03 p.m.

    Game 3 – Monday, Oct. 30, at Phoenix, 5:03 p.m.

    Game 4 – Tuesday, Oct. 31, at Phoenix, 5:03 p.m.

    x-Game 5 – Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Phoenix, 5:03 p.m.

    x-Game 6 – Friday, Nov. 3, at Arlington, Texas, 5:03 p.m.

    x-Game 7 – Saturday, Nov. 4, at Arlington, Texas, 5:03 p.m.

    x-if necessary

    Season Series: The Diamondbacks won 3-1.


    Record: 84-78

    Playoff entry: Wild card

    Manager: Torey Lovullo (seventh season)

    Top hitters: OF Corbin Carroll (.285, 25 HRs, 76 RBIs, .868 OPS, 54/59 SBs, 116 runs), 2B Ketel Marte (.276, 25, 82, .844 OPS), 1B Christian Walker (.258, 33, 103, .830 OPS), LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.261, 24, 82, .772 OPS)

    Projected rotation: RH Zac Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA, 220 Ks, 210 IP in 34 starts), RH Merrill Kelly (12-8, 3.29 in 30 starts), RH Brandon Pfaadt (3-9, 5.72, 22 HRs in 96 IP)

    Key relievers: RH Paul Sewald (3-2, 3.12 ERA, 34/39 saves with Mariners and Diamondbacks), RH Kevin Ginkel (9-1, 2.48, 4 saves), RH Ryan Thompson (1-2, 3.82, 1 save with Rays and Diamondbacks), LH Andrew Saalfrank (0-0, 0.00 in 10 games), LH Joe Mantiply (2-2, 4.62), RH Miguel Castro (6-6, 4.31, 7 saves in NL-high 75 games)

    Series story: A nine-game losing streak left the young Diamondbacks 57-59 on Aug. 11, but they recovered. Despite totaling three runs while dropping their last four regular-season games, Arizona squeezed into the final playoff spot before taking off on a 9-3 postseason roll to become the second consecutive No. 6 seed to win the NL pennant. … Making their first playoff appearance since Lovullo’s debut season in 2017, the Diamondbacks swept the division champion Milwaukee Brewers and the NL West champion Dodgers before overcoming 2-0 and 3-2 deficits against the defending NL champion Phillies in the NLCS. Arizona held Bryce Harper & Co. to three runs over the final 18 innings to win Games 6 and 7 in Philadelphia, where the Phillies had been 12-2 over their past two postseasons – including 11-0 in NL playoff games. … It’s been an impressive turnaround under GM Mike Hazen after the Diamondbacks lost 110 games in 2021 and finished 74-88 last year. Their only previous World Series berth came in 2001, when Arizona – in the franchise’s fourth season – edged the New York Yankees in a classic seven-game thriller. … Marte was the NLCS MVP after batting .387 with 12 hits, four doubles, a triple and three RBIs. His 19 hits in a single postseason are a club record. He’s hit safely in all 16 career postseason games, the longest streak in NL history and second in MLB history to Derek Jeter’s 17-game run for the Yankees. … Gallen is 2-2 with a 5.24 ERA in four postseason outings after getting roughed up in the NLCS. Kelly went 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three playoff starts. Pfaadt, a rookie, has come on with a 2.70 ERA and 22 strikeouts against three walks in 16⅔ innings. … A no-name relief corps has been an October revelation, and the Diamondbacks figure to go with a bullpen parade in Game 4 just like they did in the NLCS. Sewald is perfect in six postseason save chances. He and Ginkel have combined for 24 strikeouts in 17 scoreless innings. … The Diamondbacks split two games at Texas in early May and swept a pair at home from the Rangers in August, including an 11-inning victory on consecutive doubles by Geraldo Perdomo and Tommy Pham off of Will Smith. Gallen whiffed 11 over six innings of one-run ball to win the series finale that came during an eight-game skid for Texas. … The Rangers hold a 28-25 edge in regular-season matchups. … Arizona bench coach Jeff Banister won AL West titles in the first two seasons of his tenure as Texas manager from 2015-18.


    Record: 90-72

    Playoff entry: Wild card

    Manager: Bruce Bochy (first season)

    Top hitters: SS Corey Seager (.327, 33 HRs, 96 RBIs, 1.013 OPS in 119 games), RF Adolis García (.245, 39, 107, .836 OPS), 2B Marcus Semien (.276, 29, 100, .826 OPS in 162 games, led AL with 122 runs and 185 hits), 3B Josh Jung (.266, 23, 70, .781 OPS in 122 games)

    Projected rotation: RH Nathan Eovaldi (12-5, 3.63 ERA in 25 starts), LH Jordan Montgomery (10-11, 3.20 in 32 starts with Cardinals and Rangers), RH Max Scherzer (13-6, 3.77 in 27 starts with the Mets and Rangers), LH Andrew Heaney (10-6, 4.15)

    Key relievers: RH José Leclerc (0-2, 2.68 ERA, 4 saves), RH Josh Sborz (6-7, 5.50), LH Aroldis Chapman (6-5, 3.09, 6 saves, 103 Ks in 58⅓ IP with Royals and Rangers), LH Cody Bradford (4-3, 5.30 in 20 games, 8 starts), RH Dane Dunning (12-7, 3.70 in 35 games, 26 starts), LH Will Smith (2-7, 4.40, 22 saves)

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    Series story: In their first playoff appearance since 2016, the streaky but resilient Rangers won the franchise’s third American League pennant to reach the World Series for the first time since consecutive trips in 2010 and 2011. It has been quite a turnaround under Bochy and GM Chris Young after the Rangers lost 102 games in 2021 and went 68-94 last year for their sixth straight losing season. … One of six MLB teams without a World Series title – Colorado, Milwaukee, San Diego, Seattle and Tampa Bay are the others. … Texas led the AL West for most of the season but squandered the division crown to rival Houston with a loss at Seattle on the final day of regular season. That left the Rangers with the No. 5 seed in the AL playoffs and sent them across the country to open the playoffs at Tampa Bay, part of a two-week trip that took them to four cities – two on each coast. But they swept the Rays and the AL East champion Orioles, the two winningest teams in the AL this season, while starting the playoffs with seven straight wins – six on the road. Then they dropped all three home games to the Astros in the ALCS before rebounding in Houston, totaling 20 runs in Games 6 and 7 to dethrone the defending World Series champs in their Lone Star State showdown. It marked the second time in major league history that the road team won every game in a best-of-seven postseason series. … Texas joined the 1996 New York Yankees as the only clubs to win their first eight road games in a postseason. Which, of course, earned the Rangers home-field advantage in this all-wild card World Series because they had a better regular-season record than Arizona. … The 68-year-old Bochy, who came out of retirement to manage the Rangers, is looking for his fourth championship after leading San Francisco to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. He is the first skipper to win an LCS with three different teams, after guiding the Padres and Giants to NL pennants. … García, the ALCS MVP, homered in the final four games and set a record for RBIs in a postseason series with 15. He hit seven homers in playoffs, and his 20 RBIs are the most in postseason history prior to a World Series. … Eovaldi is 4-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts this postseason. Montgomery is 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA, including a Game 7 victory in relief against the Astros. … Scherzer was drafted by the Diamondbacks and spent his first two seasons with Arizona from 2008-09 before the three-time Cy Young Award winner was traded to Detroit. … Leclerc has taken over the closer role from the struggling Smith, earning three saves in 10 appearances during the playoffs. … Poised rookie outfielder Evan Carter has provided a huge boost since making his major league debut on Sept. 8, less than two weeks after 21st birthday. … Two times Texas was one strike from winning the 2011 World Series before the St. Louis Cardinals rallied twice to win Game 6. The Cardinals then took Game 7 for the title.

    ​ Orange County Register