Astros Take 3–2 ALCS Lead against Rangers

Rangers Astros
(Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Astros 5, Rangers 4

ARLINGTON, Tex. (Oct 20) — The Houston Astros took a 3–2 lead in the ALCS as they beat the Texas Rangers, 5–4, on Friday afternoon. A vital three-run home run by Adolis Garcia went to waste as the Rangers failed to nail down this crucial home victory. Now this series heads to Minute Maid Park in Houston for Game Six (and Seven if necessary). Game Six will be on Sunday evening with first pitch scheduled for 7:03 pm Central. Left-hander Framber Valdez (0–2, 11.57 ERA) will toe the slab for the Astros, while righty Nathan Eovaldi (3–0, 2.29 ERA) will get the ball for the Rangers.

Lowe, Garcia Take the Rangers Higher

True to their 2023 pattern against the Rangers, the Astros got on the board in the top of the first. With Jordan Montgomery on the hill for the Rangers, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman hit a solo home run to left-center to give the Astros a 1–0 lead. The Rangers tied it in the bottom of the fifth off Astros starter Justin Verlander. Fueled by the fans and the motivation of the lyrical stylings of the rock band Creed (who made an appearance at Globe Life Field prior to Game Three), first baseman Nathaniel Lowe hit a solo bomb to left.

The Astros took a 2–1 lead in the top of the sixth. Bregman scored on a single to center by Astros first baseman Jose Abreu. In the bottom of the sixth, the Rangers took a much-needed lead. After a popout by Marcus Semien to lead off the inning, shortstop Corey Seager lined a double to right.

So Close

Outfielder Evan Carter followed that up with a single to left. At this point, the crowd of 41,519 nearly screamed the roof open as Garcia stepped to the plate. After a quick practice swing, Garcia blasted one to the seats in left-center just to the left of the Astros’ bullpen. The Rangers now had their first lead since Game Two of the ALCS by a count of 4–2. A single by Josh Jung two batters later led to Verlander’s exit.

Hector Neris came in to relieve him. All was going well until the top of the ninth. With Jose Leclerc on the mound, Yainer Diaz led off the inning with a single to left. Diaz was brought in as a pinch-hitter for shortstop Jeremy Peña earlier in the game. Jon Singleton pinch-hit for Martin Maldonado and drew a walk. Two batters later, Jose Altuve deposited one in the seats in left to give the Astros a 5–4 lead in dramatic fashion.

Benches Clear

This series looked like it would go without any physical altercations up until the bottom of the eighth. Benches cleared after Astros reliever Bryan Abreu hit Adolis García with a pitch. After García hit the go-ahead home run in the sixth inning off Verlander to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead, he admired the home run, slamming his bat to the ground before beginning his trot around the bases. The Astros took exception to this and retaliated. Both Abreu and Garcia were tossed, along with Astros manager Dusty Baker. Baker was so heated over both his and Abreu’s ejections that he refused to leave the Astros’ dugout for several minutes while the umpire crew restored order on the field.

Montgomery Goes Five-Plus

Montgomery took a no-decision after tossing 5 1/3 innings. He allowed two earned runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Montgomery owns a 2.38 ERA through his four postseason starts for the Rangers this year and has allowed two or fewer runs in three of the four games. On the other side, Verlander also took a no-decision. He allowed four earned runs on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts. His three strikeouts increased his career playoff total to 244, which are the most all-time in postseason history. Verlander allowed multiple home runs in a postseason start for the first time since Game Six of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals.

Friday marked his 38th career postseason appearance (37th start). It was also his 14th career League Championship Series start and second start of the 2023 ALCS. The 37 postseason starts are the second-most all-time, behind Andy Pettitte (44). The 14 LCS starts also tie Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux for third-most all-time, trailing Tom Glavine (17) and Pettitte (15).

Ryan Pressly earned the win for the Astros after pitching two scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and struck out three. His record in the postseason is now 1–0 with an ERA of 0.00.

Leclerc took the loss for the Rangers. This brings his record in the postseason to 0–1 with an ERA of 4.15 and one blown save.

Postgame Comments

After the game, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy gave his thoughts on the impact the melee in the eighth inning took on Leclerc. “I was concerned about that delay. I really was,” Bochy said. “It was a long one. It was taking too long, to be honest. … And I’m sure it affected him, because he came in to get an out there in the eighth inning. Maybe that played a part in it.” “We play the game the right way, and unfortunately this happened at a tough time for José,” said Bochy. “But he’s been so good. He just … That one walk, I think, really hurt us at that point. It seems like that’s always involved when [the Astros] have a rally like that. But his stuff was still good, he just gave up a home run to a good hitter.”

Bochy added that the 25-minute stoppage may have played a part in closer Jose Leclerc giving up the go-ahead home run to Altuve in the ninth. “The whole thing is a bunch of crap, to be honest, what happened there. Who knows what their intentions are, but it’s not the first time it’s happened, and couldn’t get the game going again.”

 

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