The Texas Rangers, the oldest MLB franchise to never win a championship, are one win away from their first title after beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-7 in Game 4 of the World Series on Tuesday night.
But it’s hard to blame Rangers or their fans if no one is planning a parade or clearing space in the closet for all the keepsake championship T-shirts — nor to blame the Diamondbacks or their fans if they’re channeling their inner Kevin Millar:
“Don’t let us win this game tonight.”
"Don't let us win tonight"
Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown channel their inner Kevin Millar ahead of tonight's must-win Game 4 pic.twitter.com/du9Qykvw7X
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 23, 2023
The Rangers’ 63-year history includes perhaps the most agonizing championship near-miss this side of the 1986 Boston Red Sox. Texas was one strike away from ending its title drought in both the ninth and 10th innings of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series before the St. Louis Cardinals mounted comebacks in a 10-9 win. The Cardinals won Game 7 the next night, 6-2.
More importantly for the current iteration of the Rangers, they are running out of players and pitchers.
Hard-hitting Adolis Garcia, the MVP of the American League Championship Series, was removed from the roster prior to Game 4 due to an oblique injury along with Hall of Fame-bound pitcher Max Scherzer, who suffered a back injury while pitching Game 3. Scherzer was lined up to start a potential Game 7, which if the series goes the distance, the Rangers might have to turn to…Kenny Rogers? Roger Pavlik? Bobby Witt Sr? Charlie Hough?
The Rangers’ flammable bullpen turned what could have been one of the biggest routs in World Series history last night — they were up 10-0 after three innings and 11-1 with six outs left — into enough of a nail-biter that Bruce Bochy asked closer Jose Leclerc to get the last out.
The Diamondbacks’ brief World Series history includes one of the most memorable comebacks of all-time in 2001, when Arizona fell behind three games to two by losing games four and five in New York in dramatic fashion before rolling to a lopsided victory in Game 6 and ending the Yankees’ dynasty with a two-run walk-off rally against Mariano Rivera in Game 7.
11/1/2001: Scott Brosius tied up #WorldSeries Game 5 with a ninth-inning home run, which set up another dramatic win for the #Yankees. #RepBX (via MLB) @Yankeethrowback @pinstripealley pic.twitter.com/zPM7XBXBmm
— MLB Daily Dingers (@MLBDailyDingers) November 1, 2023
These Diamondbacks, of course, are no stranger to the comeback after recovering from a 7-25 slide to make the playoffs and after advancing to the World Series by beating the Philadelphia Phillies on the road in Games 6 and 7 of the NLCS.
So even though history is on the side of the Rangers — baseball teams ahead three games to one in a postseason series have won the round 85 percent of the time — tonight feels like a chance for the Diamondbacks to not just keep their season alive but grab back momentum.
In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams holding a 3-1 edge have gone on to win the series 78 of 92 times (85%) https://t.co/jC2K5dLuZH
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) November 1, 2023
Here’s a look at four Game 5 prop bets as Texas looks to end an epic drought and Arizona attempts one more momentous comeback.
All odds as of this afternoon from DraftKings.
Nathan Eovaldi (-110) and Zac Gallen (-135) Under 15.5 Outs Recorded
There doesn’t see to be a way to parlay this, but these are two interesting prop bets in a surprisingly unprecedented pitching matchup. This is the first time ever two pitchers each making their sixth start of the postseason are opposing one another.
Playoff starts are of course much more intense and draining than regular season starts, so it’s anyone’s guess how much gas Eovaldi and Gallen have left the day after Halloween. Eovaldi, who missed six weeks in late summer with a forearm strain, was impressive in the playoffs until he gave up five runs over 4 2/3 innings in Game 1. The tank has appeared nearly empty for Gallen, who has a 5.27 ERA in the playoffs after throwing 210 regular season innings, second-most in the majors.
Neither bullpen is well-rested, but Bochy and Torey Lovullo have some flexibility after Rangers relievers prior to Leclerc combined to throw just 76 (mostly ineffective) pitches and after Ryne Nelson mopped up with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. With a chance to end and extend their seasons, expect Bochy and Lovullo to be aggressive at the first sign of trouble for their starters.