The Houston Astros needed to remind everyone that they run the league until they are dethroned, and that’s exactly what they did.
In as much of a must-win as one could have without being mathematical, the bats of the defending champions came out firing as they earned their much-needed first win of the American League Championship Series.
Houston took down the Texas Rangers, 8-5, to avoid a commanding three-games-to-none lead, and they now trail the series, 2-1.
The Astros never looked back from 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 belted a two-run homer to cut Texas’ deficit to three runs, and Leody Taveras robbed Alvarez of a homer in the sixth, but Alvarez wound up driving two runs on a single in the seventh. Jung got the two 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 drove in a run, but that was the last of the Rangers’ runs.
Scherzer did not have it – in his return from a teres (armpit) injury, he lasted just 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 earned to the San Diego Padres in 4.2 frames.
The Rangers bullpen, their long bugaboo all season, hardly fared much better, combining for five innings while allowing the other four runs.
Christian Javier is a stud in the postseason, and he continued to be as such on Wednesday. He didn’t allow a hit in his first four innings (he was the starter in two combined no-hitters last year, including the one in Game 4 of the World Series). He was yanked after Jung’s first homer, but earned the win. His career postseason went up, yet it’s still a measly 2.08.
Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, and Ryan Pressly combined for the final 10 outs to clinch the victory.
Dubon collected three hits in the victory, while Jose Altuve, Alvarez, and Maldonado each had a pair.
Game 4 of the ALCS is Thursday night back in Arlington. Both starting pitchers are to be determined.