Two different rallies between these two teams defined today’s game. In the top of the 1st, the Rangers came out with a purpose against Astros’ starter Framber Valdez and they took a 3-0 advantage before the lefty had recorded an out. Before the inning was over, it was 4-0 Texas.
Meanwhile, Texas and Houston had alternated solo home runs in the ensuing innings. Yordan Alvarez finally got a hold of one in the bottom of the 2nd before Jonah Heim answered with his first career October big fly in the top of the 3rd. Alex Bregman responded with the Bregman special in the bottom of the 4th for a solo shot that clanged off the foul pole in left. That made it 5-2 Texas when Houston threatened.
In the bottom of the 5th, the bottom of the Astros lineup loaded the bases on Rangers’ starter Nathan Eovaldi with an opportunity to draw closer and perhaps drive Eovaldi from the game. Instead, Nasty Nate, he of the near-mythic big game acumen, got a K of pinch hitter Yainer Diaz, a K of leadoff hitter Jose Altuve, and got Bregman to ground out harmlessly to third base to end a bases-loaded, no out situation that, usually under best case, you expect to allow at least a couple of runs.
Four runs for Texas in their 1st inning rally. Zero runs for Houston in their 5th inning rally. After the Astros grabbed one more run off Eovaldi in the 6th, the difference in this game proved Eovaldi’s ability to produce magic in the game’s most dangerous frame.
From there, the Rangers were asked to get nine outs from the bullpen and they did so with their preferred trio of Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc with Chapman allowing another solo home run to Alvarez to set up another rescue job from Leclerc. With Leclerc needing 12 pitches to clean up for Chapman in the 8th, Bruce Bochy sprinkled some of his October magic on Leclerc who came back out and closed down the 9th.
It was as nerve-wracking as you might imagine but Texas heads back home up 2-0 in the ALCS.
Player of the Game: The legend of Nasty Nate continued this afternoon.
If Jordan Montgomery physically looks like a left-handed Colby Lewis on the mound, Eovaldi pitched like the righty of yore today as he gave up three runs — two on the patented Colby solo home run — in six innings while giving up five hits and just one walk to go with his nine strikeouts.
Up Next: After a day off on Tuesday, the ALCS moves to Arlington for a showdown at The Shed. For Game 3, the Rangers announced that RHP Max Scherzer will make his return for his first start in October for Texas. Houston, meanwhile, has not announced a starter but it will likely be either RHP Cristian Javier or RHP Jose Urquidy.
The Game 3 first pitch is set for 7:03 CT on Wednesday night and will be aired on FS1.