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Rangers History Today: Texas Hosts First AL Wild Card Game

The Texas Rangers were part of a 'first' on this day when they faced the Baltimore Orioles in the American League's first Wild Card Game.

On this date in franchise history, the Texas Rangers hosted the first wild card game in American League history.

On October 5, 2012, the Rangers hosted the Baltimore Orioles in the American League’s first one-game wild card playoff. The Orioles ended up winning the game, 5-1, and ending the Rangers’ two-year run of representing the AL in the World Series.

The wild card was implemented by Major League Baseball in 1994, when it added the best non-division winner from each league to the postseason. But, due to the work stoppage in 1994, and the ensuing cancellation of the World Series, the first wild card teams weren’t in the playoffs until 1995.

From 1995-2011, there was one wild card team per league, which played their respective No. 1 seed.

In 2012, with the addition of a second wild-card team, there was an official Wild Card Game to determine which team would play the No. 1 seed.

Also on this date …

October 5, 1986: Pete Incaviglia hit his 30th home run on the last day of the season in a 7-4 win over the California Angels. In doing so, he set the Rangers record for most home runs by a rookie. It was also his first season of professional baseball altogether. He became the 16th rookie in history to hit at least 30 home runs, and that last homer came off future Hall-of-Famer Don Sutton. 

The record stood for 35 years until Adolis García hit his 31st homer on September 30, 2021.

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October 5, 1996: The Rangers’ first postseason trip came to a close, as they lost Game 4 of the 1996 American League Divisional Series to the New York Yankees, 6-4, at The Ballpark in Arlington. 

The Rangers held a 4-0 lead after the first three innings, which included a solo home run by Juan González. With the shot, González became the second player in Major League history to hit home runs in four straight postseason games. He finished the series with five home runs. But, the Yankees mounted a comeback and chipped away in the last six innings of the game. Bobby Witt started the game, but didn’t get out of the fourth inning for the Rangers. The Yankees’ starting pitcher threw just two innings. His name? Kenny Rogers. 

The Yankees advanced to the AL Championship Series and eventually won the World Series, defeating the Atlanta Braves.

October 5, 1999: The Rangers lost Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series, 8-0, to the New York Yankees.

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