When the Texas Rangers took the field for the second time at home in the American League Championship Series, they were determined to take a 3-0 lead.
In Game 3 of the ALCS, which was played under the lights at Globe Life Field on Wednesday night, the Rangers lost 8-5 to the Houston Astros despite their unrelenting dedication. This was due to a lack of a clearly defined strategy.
The Rangers saw their team-record streak of seven consecutive victories after the regular season fall one short of the eight-game MLB record set by four different teams.
Max Scherzer (0-1) didn’t kick off the game as seamlessly as the Rangers had anticipated, given that he didn’t display the sharpness they were banking on just a month after his stint on the injured list.
The Astros established a substantial 5-0 lead over Scherzer within the initial four innings. While the Rangers’ bullpen showed commendable resilience, it was in the seventh inning that they encountered a stumble, allowing an additional two runs to the Astros, consequently slipping the game further from their reach.
Rangers rookie Josh Jung, driven by a home run, gave some hope that they could rally, but they couldn’t capitalize as Astros starter Cristian Javier (2-0) pitched almost six solid innings of three-hit baseball. Jung hit another two-run shot in the seventh, this time off Astros reliever Hector Neris.
The fourth game of this series is set for Thursday night at 7:03 PM at Globe Life Field as the Rangers and Astros prepare for another exciting showdown.
The Astros emerged victorious with an 8-5 score, sealing their triumph in Game 3 of the ALCS. Let’s now dive into the pivotal highlights of this showdown between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros.
Max is back,
Max Scherzer returned after a month on the shelf due to muscle strains in his trapezius, and facing Jung seemed inevitable.
However, he thrilled the Rangers faithful with an impressive display during the opening inning, where he managed to strike out Astros outfielder Michael Brantley.
Moving on to the second inning, things took a turn as he yielded three runs, prompting his removal from the game after conceding this trio of runs in that particular frame.
The Astros’ order saw Scherzer for the second time, and they got to him after four innings. He threw 63 pitches (42 strikes), allowing five hits, five runs (all earned), a walk, and four strikeouts. It was certainly not vintage Scherzer, but the Rangers – and Scherzer – were hoping for more effectiveness.
Big Hit from Martin Maldonado
Martin Maldonado is perhaps the last Astros hitter you expect to break your back as an opponent. While Astros manager Dusty Baker relies on his pitching staff and game-calling skills, he’s not exactly a productive hitter.
How dire is the situation? He hasn’t hit better than .200 since the 2020 COVID season, batting at .215 after that.
That’s a glimpse of the game! The Astros managed to take one back in the series with this win.
However, as the game entered the second inning, it was he who kickstarted the Astros’ offensive maneuvers at the plate.
Scherzer loaded the bases and left the first run against wild pitch Jeremy Pena, who scored Yordan Alvarez. But Pena got out of the field, and this only allowed the Rangers to score one run, far from breaking the jam.
Maldonado had other ideas. He hit a hard grounder to third base in the third and Rangers third baseman Josh Jung couldn’t handle it. The ball went off Jung’s glove, into the left-field area, and Pena and Mauricio Dubon scored, making it 3-0.
This tells a lot about Maldonado’s need for hits like that to open things up. The most challenging hits materialized subsequently – with a home run delivered by Jose Altuve and a double by Jose Abreu. Nonetheless, it was Maldonado’s crucial hit that firmly positioned the Astros in command of the game.
Jung Goes Yard
For nearly five innings, Astros starter Cristian Javier looked like he was cruising. He faced the first eight hitters and retired them, not allowing a single hit up to the fifth, with a one-out single by Nathaniel Lowe to right-center in the Rangers’ bullpen.
Then came Jung, who hit a two-run homer and gave the Rangers their first run, into the right-center field area at 79 miles per hour from Rangers’ bullpen.
In Jung’s case, this marked his second home run for the season, making him the initial Rangers rookie to achieve a post-season two-home run record.
That was almost all the damage that Javier allowed, but he had to leave in the sixth as Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker misread Ivan Carter’s screaming line drive, which turned into a double. Astros reliever Hector Neris pitched to Adolis Garcia, who hit the ball to the left-center field gap where it went to Michael Brantley for the catch.
In the seventh inning, Jung delivered another home run – this one a two-run blast with Lowe on the bases. Nonetheless, at that juncture, the Rangers found themselves trailing with a score of 7-2.
Despite their home runs, they couldn’t narrow the deficit, and the Astros held onto a three-run advantage, a scenario that recurred for the second time during that eventful Wednesday. However, he became the 12th rookie to play multiple home run games in postseason history.