The Houston Astros needed to remind everyone that they ruled the league until they were dethroned, and that’s exactly what they did.
In a must-win without being mathematical, the defending champions’ bats fired as they earned their well-deserved first victory of the American League Championship Series.
Houston beat the Texas Rangers, 8-5, to avoid a three-game-to-zero lead, and they now trail the series, 2-1.
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The Astros never looked back after their three-run second inning. With the bases loaded, Yordan Alvarez scored on a wild pitch from Max Scherzer. Then Martin Maldonado drove in two more runs with a single. In the third, Jose Altuve blasted a solo homer and Mauricio Dubon added an RBI single in the fifth.
Josh Jung hit a two-run homer to cut Texas’ deficit to three runs, and Leody Taveras robbed Alvarez of a home run in the sixth, but Alvarez ended up driving in two runs on a single in the seventh. Jung got both back with his second two-run dinger of the night in the bottom half of the seventh, but Jeremy Pena’s RBI single put the Astros back up four. Adolis Garcia’s eighth-inning single produced a run, but that was the last of the Rangers’ runs.
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Scherzer wasn’t having it – in his return from a round (armpit) injury, he lasted only four innings and allowed five runs. It was his first postseason start since Game 1 of last year’s Wild Card Series as a New York Met, when he allowed seven to the San Diego Padres in 4.2 frames.
The Rangers’ bullpen, their long bugaboo all season, fared little better, combining for five innings while allowing the other four runs.
Christian Javier is a stud in the playoffs, and he continued to be one on Wednesday. He didn’t allow a hit in his first four innings (he started two combined no-hitters last year, including Game 4 of the World Series). He was pulled after Jung’s leadoff homer, but got the win. His career playoff runs have increased, but it’s still a measly 2.08.
Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly combined for the final 10 takedowns to clinch the victory.
Dubon collected three hits in the victory, while Jose Altuve, Alvarez and Maldonado each had a pair.
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Game 4 of the ALCS is Thursday night in Arlington. The two starting pitchers must be determined.