The Texas Rangers kept their season alive and forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in the American League Championship Series with a 9-2 win over the Houston Astros in Game 6 on Sunday night in Houston.
Texas fell behind early but used its power-hitting and another great outing from starter Nathan Eovaldi to snap a three-game losing streak and give itself one more chance to earn a spot in the World Series.
“He’s the guy we needed out there tonight, and he set the tone,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy told members of the media about his starter after the game. “We needed him. Of course, the early runs helped, but what a great job he did.”
The Astros struck first as Yordan Alvarez laced an RBI single up the middle with runners on first and second in the bottom of the first inning. Eovaldi settled down from there and allowed just one more run and four overall hits while striking four out in six innings.
Mitch Garver tied the game with a home run to lead off the next inning, and catcher Jonah Heim gave Texas a three-run lead with a two-run shot with two outs in the fourth.
The Rangers continued to pressure Houston’s pitching, putting two more runners on base with one out in the fifth. However, Houston starter Framber Valdez worked himself out of the jam with a lineout from Corey Seager and a strikeout of Evan Carter to end his outing.
Houston used back-to-back singles in the sixth to set up its next scoring chance. While Kyle Tucker continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, Mauricio Dubon came through with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to one.
Texas got the run back in the eighth as Garver doubled to left, scoring Carter to make it a 4-2 game.
Tucker came up again with the tying runs on base in the bottom of the inning and walked against Texas closer Jose LeClerc to load the bases. However, LeClerc retired the next two batters to maintain the lead.
The Rangers continued to roll offensively, loading the bases and breaking open a 9-2 lead on a grand slam from Adolis Garcia, and Andrew Heaney threw just four pitches in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
WHAT TO KNOW
— The Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS to tie the series at three games apiece and force a Game 7 for the right to represent the American League in the World Series.
— The road team has won all six games of the ALCS.
— Astros reliever Bryan Abreu, who hit Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia with a pitch in Game 5, was eligible to pitch in this game as he appeals a two-game suspension for the incident, coming in to pitch the top of the eighth inning. Garcia came up to bat in the top of the first and was greeted by Houston fans with signs that read, “Free Abreu.” He struck out against Abreu in the eighth.
— Robbie Grossman started in left field for the Rangers instead of Evan Carter, but Carter entered the game as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning after Texas took the lead.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Eovaldi entered the game with a 3-0 record and 2.29 ERA and allowed just two earned runs over six innings — improving to 4-0 this postseason.
— Alvarez entered Sunday’s contest hitting better than .700 in his career against Eovaldi and went 2-for-2 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored against the Rangers’ starter.
— The Astros are now 1-4 at home this postseason and 0-3 in the current series.
— Garcia has seven RBIs over the last two games.
— Houston was 1/8 with runners in scoring position.
— Bochy on what it’s been like to manage in the series: “It’s been entertaining. … It’s intense. There’s no getting around it. People ask you, ‘Are you having fun?’ Yeah. It’s fun. You try to enjoy it, but it’s intense out there. It’s what I came back for though, to be in the situation. It’s exciting. I was proud of these guys — how they came in here and just put together a great ballgame.”
— Astros manager Dusty Baker on failed scoring opportunities: “It’s disappointing. The name of the game’s opportunities, and then after that, you hope that you can come through. … Some days you just don’t get it done.”
— Houston and Texas will play Game 7 of the ALCS at 7:05 p.m. CT on Monday in Houston. The winner will represent the American League in the 2023 World Series against either the Philadelphia Phillies or the Arizona Diamondbacks.
— Cristian Javier will start for Houston, and Max Scherzer will make his second playoff start for Texas.