Step 1: Have at least a four-run lead when you get to the seventh because the Rangers cannot score a run in the last three innings of a game.
Step 2: Hold on for dear life.
In Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, the Rangers followed their blueprint. It wasn’t pretty but that doesn’t matter. On the road to the World Series, nobody remembers the drive. They just remember the destination. Who cares where the trophy was made? Just matters whose desk it sits on.
Nobody will remember the Rangers got nine hits, and not a single one of them resulted in an RBI. They scored on a sacrifice fly, a wild pitch, and twice on an error.
True to form, they didn’t score the last three innings of the game. True to form, they had a big enough lead that their bullpen wasn’t in danger of blowing it.
But the bullpen not only held tight, it was—I had to look up this word because I had not encountered it before—dominating. Good Chapman arrived. And Leclerc continued his turnaround act.
But none of this would have happened had it not been for another stellar outing from Jordan Montgomery, the Rangers newly crowned ace. He tossed seven shutout innings, striking out five and not walking a batter. And his sprawled out catch of a popped up bunt helped get out of a second inning jam. From there, he put it on cruise control. Montgomery was 4-2 with the Rangers, with a 2.79 ERA, crafting four brilliant starts in a row the end the season. Yesterday, he picked up where he left off.
The Rangers are up 1-0. Now, all they have to do is win one more of the next two. It won’t be easy. Maybe the Rays commit four more errors today.
It doesn’t matter. The Rangers won Game 1. Now they have to figure out a way to win again.