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MLB: ALCS-Texas Rangers at Houston Astros

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LCS recaps: Texas gets it done, Arizona forces a Game 7

Road rules: The Rangers punched their ticket to the World Series in blowout fashion, and the Diamondbacks kept their season alive

Getting started early: Corey Seager’s home run in the first inning put the Rangers ahead — for good.
| Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Kicking off the last day of the year we’ll have more than one baseball game, the Diamondbacks kept their season alive with a 5-1 victory in Philadelphia over the Phillies.

Starters Aaron Nola and Merrill Kelly got through a scoreless first inning without much drama. However, Nola hung a knuckle-curve to Tommy Pham in the top of the second, and Pham did not miss it, for a 1-0 lead. Three pitches later, Nola threw a sinker to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. that caught too much of the plate. Gurriel took the sinker deep to left-center for Arizona’s second straight home run.

The next batter was Alek Thomas, who was unable to add a home run to make it back-to-back-to-back. However, Thomas drew a walk on four pitches, and Evan Longoria sliced an RBI double to extend Arizona’s lead to three.

In the bottom half, J.T. Realmuto crushed a double that rolled to the center field wall. Nick Castellanos struck out on a sinker that appeared to barely clip the bottom of the strike zone. However, the next batter, Brandon Marsh, swung at the first pitch he saw, and he lined an RBI single to right to put the Phillies on the board. On top of that, Marsh hustled to second on the throw home, but his teammates failed to drive him in. After the RBI single, Johan Rojas grounded out, Kyle Schwarber walked and Trea Turner struck out, so Arizona still led, 3-1.

The score remained 3-1 until the top of the fifth, when Corbin Carroll singled, and Ketel Marte drove him in with a triple; Marte has now recorded at least one hit in all 15 postseason games of his career.

That was the end of Nola’s outing, as he finished with four earned runs allowed in 4 1⁄3 innings. This was certainly Nola’s worst game this postseason, as he entered with a 0.96 ERA and a 1.70 FIP.

In the seventh, Geraldo Perdomo led off with a single, and he proceeded to steal second. Then, Marte continued his hot streak with an RBI single to extend Arizona’s lead to four.

Down the stretch, Arizona’s bullpen was fantastic, only allowing three hits (all singles) in four shutout innings. The Phillies offense has proven to be an explosive one, but it did not have answers for Diamondbacks pitching in this game, so Arizona held on for a 5-1 victory. As a result, the 2023 NLCS will have a Game 7, which is scheduled to start at 7:07 p.m. Central on Tuesday on TBS.

In a series filled with back-and-forth moments and road domination, the visiting Rangers prevailed over the Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.

Texas did not mess around against Astros starter Cristian Javier. Javier retired leadoff hitter Marcus Semien but the second batter of the game was Corey Seager, who crushed a 440-foot blast to give Texas an early lead. From there, Evan Carter walked and stole second, and Adolis García drove him in with a 346-foot single that nearly found the seats. The merry-go-round continued when García stole second, to be driven in by Mitch Garver, who singled on a Kansas City Special to center. The next batter was Jonah Heim, who singled to put runners on the corners, and just like that, Phil Maton replaced Javier on the mound. Maton struck out back-to-back batters to end the inning, but some damage was done. Javier had allowed three runs in one-third of an inning; not the start he wanted, to say the least.

Rangers starter Max Scherzer got off to a rough start, too. José Altuve led off the bottom of the first with a double, and after a ground out, Yordan Álvarez drew a walk. Up to the plate stepped old friend José Abreu, who put Houston on the board with a single. Unlike Javier, Scherzer recovered, and the Rangers managed to preserve their two-run lead after the eventful first inning.

In the third, Adolis García added a solo home run to make the score 4-1. Incredibly, García has homered in four consecutive games, as he has made an enormous impact on this series.

In the bottom half, the Astros answered that solo homer with a solo blast of their own. Alex Bregman crushed a fastball over the wall in left-center for his third home run this series. Álvarez, an unlikely candidate for a triple, followed Bregman’s homer with a three-bagger, so the potential tying run came to the plate. Scherzer got Abreu to ground out, and Álvarez was unable to advance home. From there, Rangers manager replaced Scherzer with Jordan Montgomery to face Michael Brantley. The move paid off, as Montgomery got Brantley to line out, so the Rangers remained ahead by a pair.

In the fourth, J.P. France took over on the mound for Houston, and the Rangers broke the game wide open. Josh Jung led off with a single, and although Leody Taveras struck out, Semien walked, and Seager singled to load the bases with one out. With Carter at the plate, France desperately needed a clutch out, and although he got García to hit a grounder with a .100 xBA, that grounder found a hole. García’s single drove in Jung and Semien to make it 6-2. Red-hot García added two more for Texas with a single.

In the sixth, the Rangers continued to pour it on, this time against reliever Bryan Abreu. With one on and two outs, Nathaniel Lowe launched a home run to make it 10-2, and Game 7 was officially in blowout territory. Perhaps Bryan shouldn’t have appealed his suspension for drilling Adolis with a pitch earlier in the series.

Álvarez drove in Bregman in the seventh with a two-out single, but it was far too little, far too late. For good measure, García added another home run — because of course he did. Altuve added a garbage-time home run, but the Rangers held on for a 11-4 victory, and they will be in the World Series.

This is Texas’ third World Series appearance, and the franchise is still looking for its first World Series title, going back to the Rangers’ (then Washington Senators) first season, in 1961.

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