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.
As the Texas Rangers were blasting their way into first place in the American League West over the last seven days, Nathaniel Lowe was relatively quiet. Maybe that’s about to change. The former Mississippi State standout hit his first home run since Sept. 13 on Monday night, the third of three straight bombs that propelled the Rangers to their sixth straight victory, 5-1 against the Los Angeles Angels. Hitting seventh for the first time this year in the Rangers’ stacked lineup, Lowe launched his 17th home run in the sixth inning, following blasts by Adolis Garcia and Mitch Garver. It was the first instance of back-to-back-to-back homers for the Rangers since August 2015, when ex-MSU star Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus performed the trick. “Three in a row is pretty cool,” Lowe said in a postgame TV interview. “I’ve never been a part of something like that before.” Also pretty cool for the Rangers is that they’ve reduced their magic number for clinching the division to 4 and for clinching a wild card spot to 2 with six games remaining. Lowe is just 2-for-25 during the current win streak and has seen his average drop to .267. He hit .302 last year and has been the Rangers’ No. 3 hitter most of the season. It should be noted that Lowe has drawn 90 walks this season, and his .365 on-base average is eighth in the AL. With power bats up and down their lineup, much like Atlanta, the Rangers lead the league in homers. If Lowe has rediscovered his power stroke, that would be quite a bonus for a club that hasn’t made the postseason since 2016.
The Texas Rangers have won 74 games this season, rapped out an MLB-best 1,226 hits and scored an American League-leading 731 runs. So when manager Bruce Bochy says that Nathaniel Lowe’s ninth-inning single on Monday was “as big a hit as we’ve had this year,” he is saying a lot. Former Mississippi State standout Lowe’s two-out, two-RBI knock gave the slumping Rangers a 4-3 lead over the New York Mets, and they held on to win for just the second time in 11 games. The Rangers, recently passed in the AL West standings by red-hot Seattle, remained a game back of the Mariners and tied with Houston. With a 3-2 lead in the ninth, Mets manager Buck Showalter, another State product from way back, elected to walk Corey Seager and load the bases ahead of Lowe. Lowe, who had previously extended his hit streak to 10 games, smacked a 2-1 pitch from Trevor Gott into right field to put Texas ahead. Lowe called it a “team win.” It was the team’s first win in 48 games this season in which they trailed after eight innings. While many of the Rangers have slumped of late, Lowe — a Silver Slugger winner in 2022 — has not. He is batting .297 over his last 15 games and is at .282 with 15 home runs and 70 RBIs for the year. P.S. In what passes as a showdown in the AL Central, first-place Minnesota beat second-place Cleveland 10-6, getting a 438-foot homer from Southern Miss alum Matt Wallner, his 10th. The Twins’ lead is 7 games. … Other than that bizarre and somewhat scary incident involving several so-called “fans,” former Mississippi Braves star Ronald Acuna enjoyed an MVP-caliber night at Colorado. Acuna went 4-for-5, hit his 29th homer, stole his 60th and 61st bases, drove in five runs and scored four to power Atlanta to a 14-4 win. No player in MLB history has hit 30 homers and swiped 60 bags in the same season.
For Nathaniel Lowe, the ex-Mississippi State slugger, it’s gotta be fun showing up for work each day. He checks in to a Texas Rangers lineup that ranks first in MLB in runs, first in batting average and first in on-base percentage and stands first in the American League West at 37-20. In a 16-6 home win over Seattle on Saturday, Lowe cranked out three of the Rangers’ 19 hits and hit one of their four home runs. The Rangers have scored 10 or more runs 15 times and 15 or more five times. Lowe, who has six bombs on the year along with a .281 average and 35 RBIs, typically bats third, behind Marcus Semien (.304, nine homers) and Corey Seager (.340, 10 homers) and in front of Adolis Garcia (.257, 14 homers) and Josh Jung (.285, 12 homers). “It’s a deep lineup. These guys throw out at-bats throughout the order,” manager Bruce Bochy told The Associated Press. A 2016 draftee out of MSU by Tampa Bay now in his fifth big league campaign, Lowe won a Silver Slugger for the Rangers in 2022 when he belted 27 homers. That team finished a fairly miserable 68-84. This year has been much more fun. P.S. East Central, behind the pitching of Brason Owenby (five shutout innings), and Amory, riding the arm of Jackson Howell (6 1/3, two runs), won MHSAA state championships on Saturday in Classes 5A and 3A, respectively. Perhaps it was no great surprise that great pitching performances were abundant in the games last week at Trustmark Park: Landon Harmon, East Union (five-inning perfect game); Cayden Baker, Lewisburg (6 2/3, one run); JoJo Parker and Eli Love, Purvis (combo four-hitter); T.J. Dunsford, East Central (two-hitter); Cole Tingle, Resurrection Catholic (two-hitter); Talon Haley, Lewisburg (six innings, three hits); Ben Basil, East Union (6 1/3, no earned runs); and Gavin McCoy, Saltillo.
During his rise to the big leagues, former Mississippi State standout Nathaniel Lowe was a New York-Penn League All-Star, a Midwest League All-Star, a Florida State League All-Star, an All-Star Futures Game selection and a Baseball America Double-A All-Star. Now the Texas Rangers first baseman is bidding for his first MLB All-Star appearance. While the Rangers’ big-money free agents Corey Seager and Marcus Semien have generally under-performed, Lowe is thriving. Over his past 30 games, the four-year vet is batting .307 with eight homers, 20 RBIs and 17 runs for a sub-.500 team that was hoping for better. “He’s really stepped up his game,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward recently told si.com. Lowe is batting .282, best among Texas regulars, with 12 homers and 37 RBIs. He hit 18 bombs for the 102-loss Rangers in 2021. No Texas player made the final cut in the All-Star Game fan voting. The reserves, to be announced on Sunday, are picked by player ballot and the commissioner’s office. Each team must be represented, and Lowe looks to be as deserving as any Rangers player. P.S. Seattle rookie Julio Rodriguez broke a record that Vicksburg native Ellis Burks probably didn’t know he held. Rodriguez reached 15 homers and 20 steals in his first 81 MLB games, one game faster than Burks did it in 1987 with Boston. Burks went on to hit 20 homers and steal 27 bags while batting .272 that season. He now does TV commentary for the Red Sox.