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Rangers capture first World Series in franchise history, Bruce Bochy wins fourth ring

PHOENIX — Bruce Bochy was immediately surrounded by his coaches, receiving hugs and back slaps, as soon as the final pitch of the 2023 season sealed the Texas Rangers’ 5-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 5 of the World Series. In that moment, Bochy reappeared on the field, joining his players. He had thought about experiencing nights like this in a dugout in Germany or on his couch in Nashville, wondering if he would manage again. Now, he was back in his usual place, hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy to celebrate their championship win.

This victory marked the first time in franchise history that the Rangers could call themselves world champions. However, many of their players were already familiar with the big stage. Bochy had managed his fourth team to a title, Corey Seager collected his second World Series MVP trophy, and Nathan Eovaldi boosted the pitching staff just as he did with the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Texas general manager Chris Young, who already had a World Series ring from his time as a player with the Kansas City Royals in 2015, added another ring to his collection.

Bochy’s success in October was well-known, as his San Francisco Giants won three titles in five years in the 2010s. His expertise in bullpen management was evident as he made all the right moves to hold off Arizona in the final innings. Watching him command his relievers felt like a trip into the recent past of the sport. Bochy demonstrated his joy as Texas put together a four-run rally in the ninth.

At 68 years old, Bochy’s skill in managing a bullpen had not diminished, despite the fact that the act of removing a pitcher had become more challenging. Bochy walked as if he had a rock in his shoe but couldn’t identify which one. He once spoke extensively about the benefits of walking and even wrote a book about it almost a decade ago. However, since his retirement from managing in 2019, he had undergone multiple surgeries on his back, hips, and knee. During that time, he enjoyed golfing and fishing and was relieved to not partake in the Covid-affected 2020 season.

A little over a year ago, Bochy returned to the dugout, managing the French team in the World Baseball Classic trials in Germany. Although the French team was defeated, the experience reignited Bochy’s passion for managing. The opportunity to return came from Young, who had played for Bochy in San Diego. Young believed Bochy was the perfect candidate to lead the Rangers, a team filled with young, unproven players and high-priced free agents. Young convinced Bochy to return, even though the timeline for contention was unclear. Throughout 2023, Texas showed moments of being ready for prime time, but also had stretches where they seemed destined for a third-place finish. Nonetheless, the team displayed resilience and determination, ultimately becoming champions.

The Rangers refused to give up when their $185 million offseason acquisition, Jacob deGrom, required Tommy John surgery after just six starts. They also didn’t back down when the Houston Astros won the AL West on the final day of the regular season and later defeated Texas in three straight games in the AL Championship Series. Even when outfielder Adolis García and starter Max Scherzer suffered season-ending injuries in Game 3 of the World Series, the Rangers kept pushing forward.

Young bolstered the starting rotation with trades after deGrom’s injury. Texas responded to Houston’s control of the ALCS by beating them in Games 6 and 7 on the road. When García and Scherzer got hurt, the Rangers didn’t falter, overpowering Arizona’s relievers in Game 4 before ultimately winning Game 5.

Game 5 provided a fresh start after the difficult, reliever-dominated Game 4. Eovaldi managed to navigate six innings despite five walks and numerous scoring opportunities for Arizona. Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks’ most accomplished starting pitcher, took the mound for Game 5. Arizona’s lack of depth in their rotation and bullpen had brought them to this point in the series.

Texas dominated the first two games at Chase Field, keeping the Diamondbacks off the bases in Game 3 and winning Game 4 thanks to Seager and Marcus Semien. Before Game 5, Arizona’s manager, Torey Lovullo, admitted to regretting not intentionally walking Seager in Game 4, a decision that led to Seager hitting a home run. Lovullo acknowledged that the critics who had called out the decision were correct.

Gallen started Game 5 strong, retiring the first 14 batters he faced. Eovaldi faced more challenges, as Arizona threatened with baserunners multiple times. However, he consistently stranded them. In the fifth inning, Texas put pressure on Gallen, but couldn’t score. Gallen’s bid for a perfect game ended with a two-out walk, but he recovered by striking out Heim with a curveball.

Eovaldi faced a tough situation in the bottom of the fifth but remained strong. He didn’t break under pressure as Arizona loaded the bases with walks and a single. Eovaldi’s pitching coach, Mike Maddux, visited the mound, and ultimately, Eovaldi struck out Geraldo Perdomo with a well-placed fastball to escape the inning. Arizona went hitless in eight early at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Overall, the Rangers fought through adversity and proved themselves to be deserving champions. They overcame injuries and setbacks, displaying the resilience and determination necessary to win a World Series.