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Thoughts on a 2-0 Rangers win

Rangers 2, Astros 0

Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game One Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Rangers 2, Astros 0

  • That was quite a game.
  • I’m a little adrenalized and might have problems going to sleep.
  • Jordan Montgomery had his second start of 6+ innings with no runs allowed in the 2023 postseason. Not bad for a guy the Yankees traded two years ago because they thought he wasn’t good enough to be in a playoff rotation.
  • Montgomery looked very Jordan Montgomery in this game — at least the Jordan Montgomery Rangers fans have gotten used to. Steady mix of sinker and curve, with the fastball and change sprinkled in. Strikes were thrown — 60, out of 90 pitches. Just one walk — a baffling one out free pass to Martin Maldonado in the third. Just five hits, all singles.
  • The Astros got three straight two out singles off of Montgomery in the fourth, bringing Maldonado back up, but Montgomery struck out Maldonado to end the inning.
  • After that, the Astros only got one runner as far as second base the rest of the game. And that’s a runner the Astros wish hadn’t gotten that far.
  • Which takes us to the play of the game. Josh Sborz retired the final two batters of the seventh inning, then came out to start the 8th. Sborz threw a 3-1 pitch that clearly hit the bottom of the strike zone to Jose Altuve, but it was called a ball. We were all mad.
  • Into the game comes Aroldis Chapman, who scares us all. He falls behind 2-1 to Alex Bregman, then throws a slider than Bregman smashes deep to left center field. 103.2 mph exit velocity. I was sure it was gone — or if not gone, a double off the wall. Altuve was sure to score.
  • But no! Evan Carter, Playoff Superstar, made a leaping catch at the wall, snagging the fly for the first out.
  • And Jose Altuve became the only Astro after the fourth to advance to second base. He touched second on the play, anticipating that the ball would not be caught. Once it was caught, he scampered back to first, but didn’t re-touch second. The play was appealed. The call on the field was that Altuve was safe. The call was challenged. Altuve was called out. Chapman got Yordan Alvarez on a weak roller for the third out. Inning over.
  • I should note that this was the only instance when Alvarez put a ball in play. Montgomery fanned him his first three times up.
  • The ninth was a tad anti-climatic. Jose Leclerc fell behind leadoff hitter Jose Abreu 3-1. With John Smoltz yammering about how it would be better to give up a home run than a walk to Abreu, Abreu tried to make that happen, hitting the hardest hit ball of the night to dead center, only to see Leody Taveras track it down. Kyle Tucker then tapped a meek roller that was the weakest hit ball of the night to second base, with new dad Marcus Semien making a nice play to throw him out. Leclerc fell behind 3-1 to Ranger nemesis Chas McCormick, then threw two fastballs past him to end the game. Rangers win.
  • The Ranger bats didn’t do much — six hits and two walks — but they did enough. Texas got on the board in the second when Evan Carter hit a one out double, then came home on a Jonah Heim single. They got an insurance run in the fifth, when Leody — who was 2 for 2 with a walk — homered off of Justin Verlander.
  • After Heim’s single to bring Carter home in the second, Josh Jung had a two out single, and Leody Taveras walked. Marcus Semien couldn’t capitalize on the bases loaded opportunity, though. And over the final seven innings, the only baserunners the Rangers had were the Leody home run, a Leody single, and a Nathaniel Lowe walk.
  • Not a big night for the Rangers bats. But it didn’t matter, because the pitching was that good, and the Rangers turned a crazy double play started by a great catch in left field. It wasn’t a game ended like the Atlanta Braves pulled when Bryce Harper was doubled off, but it was still pretty remarkable.
  • Jordan Montgomery hit 94.9 mph with his sinker. Josh Sborz hit 97.5 mph with his fastball. Aroldis Chapman reached 100.3 mph. Jose Leclerc topped out at 98.6 mph.
  • Leody Taveras’s home run was 105.4 mph off the bat. Nathaniel Lowe had a 103.8 mph fly out. Evan Carter’s double was 103.3 mph.
  • Texas has taken home field from the Astros. Now to see if Nathan Eovaldi can put Texas 2 up coming home.