The Houston Astros knew that had to make a statement in ALCS Game 3, and that is exactly what they did against the Texas Rangers and Max Scherzer. A 2-1 deficit in the series sounds a lot better than being down 3-0, and now their focus will be clawing back to a tie in Game 4 tomorrow.
First, let’s take a look at how they handled this game to get back into it.
After being shut out in Game 1 and losing by one run in Game 2, the team wasted no time getting on the board early against a shaky Scherzer. Yordan Álvarez started the top of the second inning on base after getting hit by a pitch, and Kyle Tucker and Mauricio Dubón reached base to load them up. After a Jeremy Peña pop out for the second out, Scherzer was close to escaping the jam until a wild pitch to Martín Maldonado scored Álvarez to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.
Maldonado followed that up with a single to left to score two more runs, but was thrown out at second base to end the inning. Still, the Astros got two more runs on the board to take an early 3-0 lead in the second.
José Altuve led off the top of the third inning with a solo shot to left center to extend the lead to 4-0.
Our old friend José Abreu led off the top of the fourth inning with a double, and two batters later Dubón singled him in to extend the lead to 5-0. It was all Astros at this point. On the other end of things, Scherzer was replaced after four innings allowing five hits, five runs, and four strikeouts. That lands his playoff ERA at an uncharacteristic 11.25, but it’s only been one game he has pitched in so we can excuse it.
Christian Javier was rolling through the Rangers lineup, going into the bottom of the fifth inning scoreless. Texas got a bit of a two-out rally going to make things interesting, after a Nathaniel Lowe single led to a Josh Jung home run to right-center.
Javier got the win after going 5 2⁄3 innings with three hits, two runs, and three strikeouts. His postseason ERA is now at 1.69.
The Astros threatened in the top of the sixth inning, but Leody Taveras robbed Álvarez with an outstanding play in center field to take away a home run.
The Rangers were looking for more in the bottom of the sixth inning after Evan Carter hit a two-out double. Javier was then replaced by Hector Neris, who got the third out after Adolis García hit one to Michael Brantley, who had a web gem of his own in left field to save a run and end the inning.
One of the Rangers biggest holes lies within their bullpen — and that problem arose later on. With one out in the top of the seventh, Maldonado and Altuve had back-to-back singles to bring Will Smith in for the Rangers. (I know, there are a lot of Will Smith’s, but this one happens to be a veteran LOOGY). Alex Bregman had a two-out walk to load the bases, and Álvarez added on some insurance with a single to score two more runs and extend the lead to 7-2.
This isn’t deja vu, it just happened again. Lowe singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and Jung hit another two-run home run to center field.
That mirror image made things interesting at 7-4, but the Astros came right back in the top of the eighth inning and added another run after Tucker and Dubón started the inning on base and Peña singled to score Tucker from second.
Houston would only get one run out of the inning, but 8-4 was looking a lot better. Bryan Abreu started the bottom of the eighth inning with a walk to Marcus Semien, a productive Carter grounder moved him to second base, and García singled to score the run.
The Astros tested their luck in the top of the ninth, when Álvarez tried to score from first on a Tucker double, but was thrown out at home.
Closer Ryan Pressly started the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk to Mitch Garver, but a strikeout to Lowe and a double play from Jung ended the game.
This was a back-and-forth contest, but the Rangers just didn’t have enough to catch up at the end. This win was incredibly important for the Astros, and they will look to do it all again tomorrow night in Game 4. Game time is at 7:03 p.m. CT, right after the Philadelphia Phillies visit the Arizona Diamondbacks for Game 3 of the NLCS. A doubleheader of baseball is coming at you tomorrow!