The Arizona Diamondbacks believed that their time with these players was over.
They endured seven years of watching the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Corey Seager taunt them, and the National League West’s Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray was a continual pain.
The two returned to haunt the Diamondbacks on Monday night, this time driving the Texas Rangers to a 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks and a 2-1 lead in this World Series on a gorgeous 78-degree evening at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The Rangers are currently two wins away from their first World Series championship in franchise history. They are the first team in playoff history to go 9-0 on the road.
With a career batting average of.300 and an on-base percentage of.908 versus the D-backs, Seager set the stage with a two-run home bomb in the third inning that traveled 421 feet at 114.5 mph off his bat.
In the fourth inning, Gray relieved injured starter Max Scherzer and ensured the lead would hold. He gave up only one hit in three scoreless innings of work.
After being signed, selected, and then released by the Diamondbacks in one of the worst moves in team history, Scherzer was currently dominating his previous team once more. Having faced Arizona in 12 of his career starts, he came into the game with a 9-0 record and a 2.65 ERA, and after three innings, he was once again taking them out.
However, having already retired eight of the previous nine batters he faced to establish a 3-0 lead, Scherzer stepped outside to warm up prior to the fourth inning and felt his back abruptly stiffen. He shook his head, tossed a couple of warm pitches, then left the field. He appeared sad as he made his way over to the Rangers dugout.
Gray was prodded into action out of the blue. After pitching in relief just once in his 205 career regular-season games, the right-hander is now making his second appearance in as many days.
“This is kind of what most of the concern was going out to the bullpen,’’ Gray said, “was how are we going to just go 110% every pitch and just try to make everything incredibly nasty. But I think that’s gotten me into trouble in the past. I think just slowing down, still going 90-100%, but very focused on execution. I feel that’s put me in the best spot.”
The finest chance for the D-backs to score came in the second inning, but a baserunning error cost them. On Scherzer’s opening pitch, Christian Walker lined a double to the right-center field wall.
Tommy Pham then hit a clean single to Adolis Garcia in right field. Walker was thrown out by two feet on a superb throw by Garcia after he went past the stop sign set by D-backs third-base coach Tony Perezchica.
Pham was therefore second with one out as opposed to first and third with no one out. He did not move. Alek Thomas hit a bouncer off Scherzer, which third baseman Josh Jung promptly caught up and threw Thomas out by a step. Lourdes Gurriel flew out to second baseman Marcus Semien.
Given that teams are 30-9 in playoffs when they score first and the D-backs were 7-0 when they do so, it turned out to be a grave error.