After Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young wrapped up a press conference to announce that stars Max Scherzer and Adolis Garcia were removed from the World Series roster due to injury, he walked toward the team’s clubhouse and reiterated that he was confident in his team.
No panic here, he said.
Two hours later, the Rangers held a 10-0 lead in the third inning against the Diamondbacks. They scored five runs in both the second and third innings. Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, the team’s $500 million additions in the winter of 2022, combined for seven of those RBI. Two of the other RBI were produced by Travis Jankowski, who replaced Garcia on the roster.
It underscores just how deep of a roster Young has built in Texas, and how lethal the roster is from top to bottom. Even without Garcia, there are no easy outs in the Rangers’ lineup. It’s something that people with the Astros quietly remarked during the American League Championship Series. Now, the Diamondbacks have seen it in full force in the first four games of the series.
“You look at the lineup, one through nine, it is really tough,” Jacob deGrom said. As a pitcher, you put yourself in a place of, ‘What would I do if I faced them?’ and … this is a tough lineup. There's no breaks. Everybody has a good approach. Every time Corey (Seager) comes to the plate, you expect something special.”
But Tuesday’s performance, considering the circumstances, was easily the most impressive of the entire season by the Rangers. Dealing with injuries is something that the team became accustomed to for most of the regular season. But that’s why Young prioritized starting pitching upgrades in the offseason and at the trade deadline. It’s why they signed Seager and Semien. It’s why they had a franchise-record $214 million payroll in 2023.
“It's been a theme of our team. It has,” Young said. “It's kind of the next-man-up mentality. Our guys don't feel sorry for themselves, and I love that. That's a true characteristic of the Texas Rangers, and I'm proud of that.”
“It was a total team effort,” Jankowski said. “That’s been the mentality of this team all year. We haven’t had the healthiest of seasons. It’s been a next-man-up mentality all season.”
How Travis Jankowski stepped up as unlikely hero
In a hitters meeting before Game 4, Garcia addressed the offense and talked about how much it meant for him to play in the World Series. The speech, Jankowski said, pulled the offense together and delivered a message of, “Let’s do it for the guy who can’t be out there.”
The offense did exactly that, winning 11-7, and bringing the Rangers within one game of the World Series.
Jankowski, 32, was a key part of that. He had played nine seasons in the majors, with his first at-bats coming in the American League Championship Series, and his first postseason start coming in the World Series on Tuesday night. He delivered with a 2-for-4 performance with two RBI and setting the team up with a breakout first three innings.
Asked what allowed him to stay ready for that moment, catcher Austin Hedges interrupted and loudly yelled, “He’s a gangster, that’s why.”
Jankowski laughed and said: “You dream about it, but at that point (in spring training in Surprise, Ariz.), it didn’t seem like too much of a reality. I knew what this team was capable of. I knew I wanted to be part of it. … I’ll reflect on it at Thanksgiving with my friends and family.”