Perfect Jose Leclerc sets stage for Adolis Garcia
Game 1 winner Jose Leclerc earns first victory since 2019
ARLINGTON, Texas – As a reliever, the Rangers’ Jose Leclerc doesn’t get many opportunities to pick up victories. The veteran righthander is usually either trying to earn a save or a hold for the American League champions.
So with already much at stake in Game 1 of the World Series at Globe Life Field, Leclerc had extra incentive as he kept the Diamondbacks at bay with two perfect innings late Friday night.
He retired all six Diamondbacks he faced in extra innings. Then he became a fan like the rest of the sellout crowd at 42,472 as Adolis Garcia strolled to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score tied at 5.
“I was asking for that blast,” Leclerc said. “In the whole season I hadn’t won a game. I was saying, “My God, give me this game to win this game.’”
Garcia obliged with a walk-off home run to right field in the 11th, continuing one of the most impressive postseasons in baseball history. With that shot, the Cuban slugger set a single postseason RBI with his 22nd of the postseason.
Jose Leclerc ends drought
It had been more than four years since Leclerc earned a victory in the majors. His last victory was on Aug. 3, 2019, when he beat the Detroit Tigers at old Globe Life Park 5-4.
He pitched a scoreless inning that night in his 169th career outing. Leclerc was 0-6 with 20 saves in the regular season and 0-1 with three saves in the postseason between victories.
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Leclerc made 117 regular season and 10 postseason appearances while going 0-6 in the regular season and 0-1 in the postseason between his last two victories.
“For me it was very important,” Leclerc said. “First of all, it’s the World Series. I was trying to congratulate Adolis, who is doing an excellent job. … I was just trying to command my pitches.”
Garcia steps up again
Garcia, the American League Championship Series, rightfully earned the major headlines after Game 1. He has now homered in five consecutive postseason games.
Garcia’s heroics wouldn’t have been possible, though, if not for Corey Seager’s game-tying, two-run blast in the ninth, and the 6 1/3 scoreless innings of relief by the Rangers’ bullpen.
Dane Dunning, Cody Bradford, Jon Gray, Will Smith and Leclerc held the Diamondbacks to one hit over 6 ⅓ scoreless innings. The Rangers’ maligned bullpen stepped up masterfully after Nathan Eovaldi gave up six hits and five runs with eight strikeouts over 4 ⅔ innings.
Eovaldi delivered his worst outing of what has been a brilliant postseason for the All-Star righthander.
“I think that’s why it’s important to play as a team,” Garcia said. “I think what the bullpen did during that game was really important. They came in and they stopped the other team from scoring runs.
“And it allowed us to feel a little bit composed up there and put the runs up so we could win the game.”
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