akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Nine days ago, the Texas Rangers saw their most generous path towards a return to the Fall Classic crumble in front of their faces while stumbling toward the finish line in the Pacific Northwest. That’s also the same stretch of time it took for the team that was atop the American League West for most of the year to find its footing at the best possible time, and when it came back home to play a game for the first time in over two weeks, Texas was nigh unstoppable.

Mitch Garver came through again with the bases loaded, hitting a two-run double, before Adolis Garcia cracked a three-run home run to cap off a five-run second inning that propelled the Rangers to a 7-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Game 3 to sweep the American League Division Series. Nathan Eovaldi allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings on the mound, as Texas reaches the American League Championship Series for the first time since it reached back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Needing to split their final series in a four-game set against Seattle, the Rangers feel flat in losing three out of four, officially losing their grip of the AL West when the Houston Astros swept their final series in Arizona to claim the division crown on the final day. Instead of five days off and starting their postseason in the friendly confines of Globe Life Field, Texas had to start its playoff run in St. Petersburg and play in the Wild Card series against the 99-win Tampa Bay Rays — with a matchup with the 101-win Orioles in the next round awaiting the first-round winner.

After 10 days, the wins counter reads like this: Texas Rangers 5, the two teams with the best records in the American League 0.

Now the Rangers will have those five days off, readying themselves for the ALCS that will begin on Sunday.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 20 pictures in total.

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Tags : American League Division SeriesBaltimore OriolesMalor League BaseballTexas Rangers

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