May 18, 2024
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On paper, neither the Rangers nor the Diamondbacks should have been in the World Series.

The best team in the American League was the Baltimore Orioles, winning 101 games during the season. The second best was the Tampa Bay Rays with 99 wins.

The (perennial powerhouse) Houston Astros managed to tie the Rangers with 99 wins each and clinch the American League West Division, earning a bye while the Rangers were forced to compete in the first round of the playoffs.

In the National League, the astonishing Atlanta Braves won 104 games and the Dodgers won 100. The Central League champions were the Brewers with 92, and the Phillies won 90 games.

The D-backs tied the Marlins with 84 wins for the season.

In a slow slugfest, the Rangers and the Diamondbacks overcame arguably better teams to make it to the 2023 World Series.

With the Rangers leading three games to one, the fifth game of the Series saw two remarkable starting pitchers face each other.

Diamondback Zac Gallen, age 28, proved adept at keeping runners off the bases, pitching no-hit ball into the seventh inning.

Ranger Nathan Eovaldi, age 33, constantly allowed runners on base with hits and walks, causing Texas fans to chew their fingernails into slivers.

In the bottom of the fifth with three runners on base and two outs, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux visited the mound. At the end of the conference, Eovaldi looked up, smiled tightly and nodded with a mixture of assurance and determination.

The next batter went down on a cleanly fielded chopper.

The score was still 0-0 as both pitchers set down the opposing teams with 1-2-3 innings in the sixth.

Gallen’s no-hitter ended in the seventh as Rangers hitters scored the first of five runs. Fans showed their appreciation for his performance as he walked off the field.

The pitchers’ duel was fascinating, but superb Rangers fielding owns much of the credit for stopping the Diamondbacks. They fielded cleanly and threw accurately time after time behind their struggling starter. Once their bats broke through, they went on to win the game 5-0.

Congratulations to Rangers fans. You’ve waited for your team’s first World Series win since 1961, and the 2023 team earned it with class, style and coolness under pressure.

Gail M. Williams

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent

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