The road to the World Series just got much tougher for the Tampa Bay Rays. An ugly defensive showing leaves the Rays already on the brink of elimination. Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers received encouraging performances from a handful of players, including a seven-inning gem from Jordan Montgomery. Here are some key notes from Texas’ 4-0 win over Tampa Bay.
Three Notes from the Rangers’ Game 1 Win Against Rays
Rays Help the Rangers
Well, with all the excitement of the playoffs, it’s a little hard to not criticize the silly defensive plays by the Rays. In a best-of-three series, it is a harsh way to kick off your postseason run with a giveaway game as they had four errors. The Rays’ starter, Tyler Glasnow, was not at his best, but the Rays simply gave away too many free bases.
The Rangers approached this game with an aggressive mindset as they swung early and often. It was a successful strategy for the most part, getting good things to happen by just getting the bat on the ball. Corey Seager continued on from his regular season form with a 2-for-4 performance with his usual aggression, adding a walk.
This effort to punish anything in the zone early was partially countered by Glasnow’s pure movement as he racked up eight strikeouts through five innings. The Ranger’s swing-happy approach led to some whiffs on pitches well outside the zone, but they made enough contact to make up for it.
And that’s when things fell apart for the Rays. Tampa Bay had those four errors, along with a double from Evan Carter that counted as a double on a difficult play for Yandy Diaz, but was still fieldable. The Rangers were unable to score off the first three errors, but it made Glasnow’s night much more difficult. Glasnow’s wild pitch allowed the Ranger’s second run.
The fourth error was the most disheartening for the Rays. Glasnow led off the top of the sixth inning with back-to-back walks before being taken out for Chris Devenski. Corey Seager singled to center field, but Jose Siri misread the bounce. As he had to collect the ball awkwardly, he launched the ball into the dugout to give the Rangers a 4-0 lead. Siri was clearly dejected afterward, and understandably so. The Rangers made decent contact against Glasnow, but the defensive lapses were taxing for their starter, who finished with five walks, as well.
Montgomery’s Memorable Moment
One of the most memorable plays of the night came on Montgomery’s own diving effort to steal a bunt single away from Siri with runners on first and third base. If the hit had landed, it surely would have scored a run and left Montgomery facing another jam with multiple runners on base and only one out. Instead, he followed his diving catch with a strikeout to end the inning.
Montgomery’s final line was seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts while allowing six hits. It was a brilliant outing the Rangers needed in Game 1. With several other pitching injuries causing some concern in the Rangers’ rotation, Montgomery proved his mettle. His pitch location was dazzling throughout his start. His fastball and changeup were especially lethal as he landed pitch after pitch on the edges of the zone for easy strikes. He got multiple generous calls on the outside edge, but that shouldn’t take away from his masterful performance.
The Texas bullpen was a major concern entering the postseason. The Rangers will take a lot more games like this. The length provided by Montgomery allowed them to bring out Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc for the final two innings to shut down the game. It was a game plan that went perfectly for Texas.
Evan Carter‘s Playoff Debut
The Rangers rebuilt their franchise on high-profile players like Seager and Marcus Semien. They have multiple rookies who are going to play important roles in this postseason and future ones for this team. The offense will likely be their calling card in October. In the first game of this Wild Card matchup, it was impossible to not notice Evan Carter’s impact.
The athletic rookie made his presence known with an impressive catch in the first inning to end the inning. If he missed on his diving effort, a run surely would have scored and left another runner in scoring position. His defensive prowess is a primary reason he earned his callup and now he gets to show it off in the playoffs.
His playoff debut was just as impressive on the offensive side. Carter went 2-for-2, both hits being doubles, and worked two walks. Many of his plate appearances came in important moments, as well. His first came in the second inning against Glasnow. He worked a full-count walk to get runners on the corners and proceeded to steal second base with two outs. In the fourth inning, he doubled to move Jonah Heim to third with two outs. He led off the top of the sixth inning with a walk and led off the next inning with another double.
The Rangers’ lineup saw eight of their batters reach base in this game, a fantastic performance from their starter, and a clean bullpen outing. The Rangers only need one more to take their next step in October. It was an encouraging start for Texas. Maybe next time, we’ll see what happens when the other team doesn’t give them four errors to work with.