Wednesday afternoon was a day that Rangers fans had been waiting for since October 15th 2011.
The Rangers 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays gave Texas their first playoff series victory since taking down the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 ALCS.
It was pretty much a total domination for the Rangers who outscored the Rays 11-1 in the two games. Reliever Josh Sborz echoed that sentiment in the locker room celebration on Wednesday saying “We just kinda utterly dominated them”.
Let’s take a look back and see what led to the Texas sweep.
Strong Starting Pitching – No, Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer didn’t pitch in this series but the Rangers got more than you could have asked from their starters in this series.
Jordan Montgomery took the ball in game one and continued his success from late in the season. The Rangers trade deadline acquisition went seven shutout innings allowing just six hits.
For Nathan Eovaldi who took the mound in game two, the regular season ended in a struggle as he had an ERA of 9.18 in his final four regular season starts. However, on Wednesday we saw the May version of Nathan Eovaldi who went 6.2 innings giving up just one run.
How the (Bullpen) turn tables turned – Throughout the entirety of the regular season, the Rangers bullpen struggled, we all know that by now. Texas was the first team to make the playoffs while having more blown saves than converted saves.
In the Wild Card round, however, this bullpen was lights out. In the two games, the Rangers pen went 4.1 innings and allowed just two hits and no runs.
Texas got strong performances from Jose Leclerc who pitched scoreless 9th innings in both games, Josh Sborz who went 1.1 key innings yesterday, and Aroldis Chapman who looked as good as he had all season long.
The Carter Effect – Anyone who didn’t know who Evan Carter was before this series now knows. The 21-year-old was the Rangers best offensive player in their wild-card round sweep.
In his first career playoff series, Evan Carter reached base in seven of his eight at-bats and added a huge home run yesterday to put the game out of reach.
There is no doubt that if the Rangers can continue to get the pitching they got in this series and if the length of the lineup can continue to succeed, this Rangers team can beat anyone.