09 Jul

heat check

With five multi-hit games over his last nine, Nathaniel Lowe is heating up. So, too, it seems are the Texas Rangers, the defending World Series champs who floundered through much of the first three months of the 2024 season. Mississippi State alum Lowe went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Monday as the Rangers whipped the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 for their fourth straight win and sixth in the last eight. Texas is 43-48, 5.5 games out of first in the American League West, 7 games out of a wild card berth. “We’re poised to make some things happen …,” Lowe told The Associated Press. No team has repeated as champion since the New York Yankees in 2000. Lowe, batting .276 on the season, has hit at a .370 clip over his last seven games and .339 over his last 15. His power is down this season, but he has three homers in his last nine games, lifting his total to six. He averaged 21 bombs the last three years. While winning a Gold Glove at first base in 2023, Lowe was also a key cog in a Rangers offense that led the AL in runs and OPS. Still trotting out a scary lineup, the Rangers currently rank eighth in those categories. With 22 runs in their last two games and 52 in the last eight, they appear to be heating up.

02 Nov

make that seven rings

The list of Mississippi State alumni to win World Series rings grew to seven Wednesday night with the addition of Nathaniel Lowe and Chris Stratton of the Texas Rangers. The others, who won one World Series title each, are: Hughie Critz, New York Giants, 1933; Del Unser, Philadelphia Phillies, 1980; Jay Powell, Florida Marlins, 1997; Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox, 2007; and Mitch Moreland, Red Sox, 2018. Critz, a Starkville native, went 3-for-22 in his lone Series appearance. Unser was 3-for-6 with a pair of RBIs and a pair of runs for the Phils. Powell, from Collinsville, pitched a scoreless 11th inning — his fourth appearance in the seven games — and got the win when the Marlins walked off Cleveland in the ’97 Series. Papelbon saved three of the Red Sox’s four wins in their 2007 sweep of Colorado and punched out ex-Ole Miss star Seth Smith for the final out of the clincher. Amory native Moreland had just one hit in the ’18 Series but it was a three-run homer. Moreland was on the 2010 and ’11 Texas teams that lost in the Fall Classic, the franchise’s only appearances before this year’s amazing title run, which culminated with a 5-0 victory at Arizona in Game 5. The Rangers went 11-0 on the road in winning four postseason series. Lowe, a fifth-year big leaguer, had a hit and scored a run in the four-run ninth inning Wednesday. He hit .212 with three homers in the postseason and was 3-for-17 with three walks in the Series. Tupelo native Stratton, an eight-year MLB vet acquired by Texas at the trade deadline, pitched in four postseason games and made two Series appearances, yielding two runs in 1 1/3 innings. … Incidentally, Lowe is the fifth ex-State star to play first base for the Rangers since they moved to Arlington in 1972. He followed Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jon Shave and Moreland; all but Shave were regular first sackers for the club.

25 Oct

amazing arizona

Twenty-two years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks did something amazing. They scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera and beat the mighty New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. On Tuesday night, the D’backs did something amazing again. They beat mighty Philadelphia — at Citizens Bank Park, for the second straight night — to win Game 7 of the National League Championship Series and reach the second Fall Classic in their 26-year history. The franchise was just four years old when the ’01 team, which included former Ole Miss star David Dellucci, won the championship. That club had been largely constructed by Mississippi State alum Buck Showalter, who was fired as manager after the 2000 season reportedly because of a dispute with ownership. Originally drafted by Baltimore, Dellucci was plucked by Arizona (and Showalter) in the expansion draft in the fall of 1997. He hit .260 with a league-best 12 triples in 1998 and was still a reserve outfielder on the 2001 club. He played in two World Series games, including a pinch-running appearance in the fateful ninth inning of Game 7; he was erased on a fielder’s choice for the first out. Interestingly enough, Dellucci also played for Texas, which will face the D’backs in the Fall Classic that begins Friday in Arlington. Showalter was manager of the Rangers when Dellucci was with the team (2004-05).

24 Oct

return engagement

The Texas Rangers ended a somewhat grueling 12-year wait to get back to the World Series, beating Houston 11-4 Monday night in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. There was a Mississippi State product on that 2011 Texas team, which lost in seven games to St. Louis after leading 3-2; Mitch Moreland went 1-for-10 in the Series. Coincidentally, two former Bulldogs stars are on the current Rangers roster: first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and reliever Chris Stratton. Lowe went 7-for-27 in the ALCS with two homers, including a two-run blast in the sixth inning of Game 7. Stratton pitched in Games 3 and 4, giving up a couple of runs in his first outing, working 1 2/3 scoreless innings in his second. This Rangers team bashed its way through the regular season, leading the league in runs, home runs, batting average, slugging and on-base percentage. And they bashed their way to victory at Minute Maid Park on Monday: 15 hits, four walks, four homers, two by the polarizing Adolis Garcia. On the receiving end of some of that bashing was MSU alum J.P. France, the 28-year-old rookie who had pitched so well for Houston during the season (11-6, 3.83 ERA) and in his Game 2 appearance (2 1/3 scoreless). The fourth pitcher called on by Dusty Baker, France came on in the fourth with the Astros down just 4-2. It was 8-2 when he was finally pulled with two outs. The game essentially got away from Houston as France was left twisting in the wind. Six of the eight batters he faced reached, and he threw only 13 strikes among his 28 pitches. Texas, which will face the winner of tonight’s Arizona-Philadelphia Game 7 in the World Series, has never won a championship, though manager Bruce Bochy can claim three.