The Texas Rangers shut down the Houston Astros to take Game 1 on the road, 2-0, at Minute Maid Park on Sunday night.
Jordan Montgomery was traded by the New York Yankees to the St. Louis Cardinals last season because the front office didn’t believe he would crack their postseason rotation.
Fast-forward to Sunday night and Montgomery, who continues to be a solid trade acquisition by the Rangers after being dealt by the Cardinals at the deadline, stymied a tough Astros offense.
Montgomery threw 6.1 innings, allowing no runs and five hits while collecting six strikeouts and one walk. His postseason ERA moved to 2.08 as he set the tone in this ALCS for the road team.
Because of Montgomery’s performance, the Rangers didn’t need much offense to get the job done. First, it was catcher Jonah Heim singling home Evan Carter to get on the board first in this series.
Then, center fielder Leody Taveras, the No. 9 hitter in the Rangers’ lineup, went deep off Astros starter Justin Verlander in the top of the fifth. It was a hanging slider by Verlander that caught too much of the plate, and Taveras took a big swing and connected on the sweet spot, launching it over the right center field fence.
Verlander went 6.2 innings for the ‘Stros, giving up the two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five.
The Rangers’ bullpen continued Montgomery’s momentum once his night was over, and it started with Josh Sborz finishing the seventh inning to leave the Astros scoreless.
Then, Aroldis Chapman, another trade acquisition for the Rangers, had a strong inning in a ballpark he’s had some unpleasant memories in while a member of the Yankees. Finally, Jose Leclerc picked up the save in the bottom of the ninth.
Some of Houston’s heavy hitters struggled in this one, including their power-hitter left-hander Yordan Alvarez, who struck out three times in an 0-for-4 night. Jose Altuve also went 0-for-3 with a walk, while Kyle Tucker, who has been struggling thus far in the postseason, went 0-for-4 as well.
Texas has yet to lose this postseason, carrying their winning ways from a clean sweep of the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS and two wins in a row in the Wild Card round against the Tampa Bay Rays.
They will look to keep that going on Monday afternoon with Nathan Eovaldi going against the Astros’ Framber Valdez.