Rangers win AL pennant: Texas, Adolis García make 2023 World Series with Game 7 blowout over Astros in ALCS

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The Texas Rangers are going to the World Series for the first time since 2011. Monday night the Rangers rather shockingly blew out the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park (TEX 11, HOU 4). The road team won every game of the ALCS. It's the second time in MLB history the road team won every game of a best-of-seven series. It also happened in the 2019 World Series, which the Astros lost to the Washington Nationals.

Adolis García wrapped up his ALCS rampage with four hits, including two home runs, and 5 RBI in Game 7. He drove in 15 runs in the series. Texas is 8-0 on the road this postseason, tying the 1996 New York Yankees for the longest road winning streak to begin a single postseason. The Rangers are going to the World Series for the third time in franchise history and the Astros are heading home for the winter. Incredibly, Houston went 7-22 in their final 29 home games of 2023.

Here are our takeaways from Game 7 of the ALCS.

The Rangers jumped all over Javier

Cristian Javier went into Game 7 with a 2.08 ERA in 43 1/3 career postseason innings, including two runs allowed in 10 2/3 innings in his first two postseason starts this year. He's been one of the game's best October pitchers the last few years. But, on Monday night, Javier faced six batters and got one out. The Rangers knocked him out in the first inning.

Corey Seager opened the scoring with a long and loud solo homer in the second deck in left field. A walk, a stolen base, a single, another stolen base, and another single followed to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead and send Javier to the showers.

Give the Rangers credit, the put some pretty good pitches in play. Look at Seager's homer. Javier put a fastball at the top of the zone, a location where he usually gets a ton of swings and misses, and Seager just beat him to the spot. Texas went to the plate with a plan and executed. They covered the fastball up -- Javier's moneymaker -- expertly.

Javier is the first starter to fail to complete one inning in a Game 7 since Donovan Osborne, then with the St. Louis Cardinals, retired only two Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS. He's the first starter to get just one out in a Game 7 since Vic Aldridge with Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 7 of the 1925 World Series. Unlike Javier's Astros, Aldridge's Pirates came back to win that game.

Adolis had an MVP performance

For more than one reason, Adolis García was the center of attention in the ALCS. He sparked a benches-clearing incident in Game 5 after being hit by a Bryan Abreu pitch, and that earned him healthy boos from the Astros faithful every time he stepped to the plate in Games 6 and 7. García struck out in his first four at-bats of Game 6 ... and then he launched a grand slam his fifth time up.

In Game 7, García smashed an RBI single off the left field wall in the first inning, and it was only a single because he stood at the plate and admired it, thinking it was a homer. He should have been at second. No matter, García stole second, then scored on Mitch Garver's bloop single. In the third inning, García launched a solo homer the other way. The UmpCam view was pretty sweet:

One inning later García pulled a ground ball single through the left side to plate two runs and break Game 7 open. He added a solo homer in the eighth inning, just because. All told, García went 4 for 5 with two homers and 5 RBI in Monday's winner-take-all affair. He had five hits, including three homers, in his final six at-bats of the ALCS.

García went deep in each of the last four ALCS games and he drove in at least one run in every game of the series except Game 1. He went 10 for 28 (.357) with four home runs and 15 RBI in the ALCS. Those 15 RBI are the most ever in a single postseason series. Here's the leaderboard:

  1. Adolis García: 15 RBI (2023 ALCS)
  2. Nelson Cruz: 13 RBI (2011 ALCS)
  3. Bobby Richardson: 12 RBI (1960 World Series)
  4. John Valentin: 12 RBI (1995 ALDS)
  5. Many tied with 11 RBI

Through 12 games García has 20 RBI this postseason, tied with Seager (20 RBI in 2020) for the second most ever in a single postseason. Only David Freese (21 RBI in 2011) had more. García will have at least four World Series games to pad his RBI total.

Montgomery pulled a Bumgarner

In Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, then-Giants manager Bruce Bochy asked ace lefty Madison Bumgarner to come out of the bullpen and get as many outs as he could. He would up going five innings for the save two days after throwing 117 pitches in a complete game shutout in Game 5. It was one of the most remarkable postseason pitching appearances ever.

In Game 7 of the 2023 ALCS, current Rangers manager Bruce Bochy asked stalwart lefty Jordan Montgomery to come out of the bullpen and get as many outs as he could. Montgomery threw 82 pitches and 5 1/3 innings in Game 5 two days earlier. No, Montgomery's Game 7 relief outing was not as impressive as Bumgarner's in 2014, but it was damn good nonetheless. He got seven outs behind a wobbly Max Scherzer and was credited with the win.

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2023 ALCS Game 7
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Montgomery, who'd made only two prior relief appearances in his big-league career, was not given a soft landing spot. He entered to face Michael Brantley with a runner on third and two outs in the third inning, with the Rangers leading 4-2. The game was close with a lot of innings left. Montgomery got Brantley to line out to short, then added two more scoreless innings to settle things down. No 2023 trade deadline addition has been more impactful this year. Montgomery, who is a few weeks away from free agency, has been terrific in October.

Josh Sborz (1 2/3 innings), Aroldis Chapman (1 1/3 innings), and José Leclerc (one inning) following Montgomery out of the bullpen to close out the Game 7 win. Sborz appeared in five of the seven ALCS games and tossed six innings, allowing just one run. It came with his team up 10-2 in the seventh inning of Game 7 and was inconsequential.

Dusty did not have a good night

I don't want to pick on Dusty Baker too much because he didn't throw any pitches or swing the bat in Game 7, but Baker didn't have a great night. Javier put him in a tight spot with his short start, but Baker went to rookie righty J.P. France down two runs in the fourth inning, and France proceeded to retire only two of the eight batters he faced. He was charged with four runs. Only after the Rangers stretched their lead to 8-2 did Dusty go to Hector Neris, one of his trusted high-leverage arms. Why France before Neris? France is the type who should be the last guy out of the bullpen in Game 7.

Then, in the bottom half of the fourth inning, Baker allowed Martín Maldonado to hit for himself with two on and one out. Maldonado is a light hitter -- he slashed .191/.258/.348 during the regular season -- and at that point Houston needed six runs just to tie. Backup catcher Yainer Diaz hit .292/.308/.528 with 23 home runs this year remained on the bench at a time when the Astros needed a big swing. When you're down that much, Maldonado's elite defense isn't worth much. The Astros needed runs and Diaz was a much better bet to provide them, yet he did not pinch-hit. Maldonado flew out and Houston did not score that inning. Diaz eventually hit for Maldonado with the bases empty and the Astros down 10-2 in the seventh inning.

In the simplest terms, the manager's job is to put his team in the best position to win, and Baker did not do that in Game 7 when he used France before Neris, and allowed Maldonado to hit for himself with two runners on base. Those decisions were not the reason the Astros lost Game 7, but they did contribute to the loss. Baker is now 0-4 all-time in Game 7s. He'd previously lost Game 7 in the 2002 World Series, 2003 NLCS, and 2020 ALCS.

The Rangers are looking for first World Series title

This is the third pennant in Rangers history and they are looking for the franchise's first World Series title. The Rangers lost to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 in their two previous World Series trips. Texas will take on either the Arizona Diamondbacks or Philadelphia Phillies when the World Series begins Friday at Globe Life Field. The D-backs and Phillies will play Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday.

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Watch the final out as Rangers clinch

Rangers 11, Astros 4. The Rangers are back in the World Series for the first time in 12 years. The Astros are going home and MLB will again not have a repeat champion. Here's the final out:

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Adolis with another HR

Good grief. Adolis García is out of his mind right now. He hit another home run to make it 11-3 in the eighth inning. 

García now has five home runs and an all-time record -- for any playoff series ever -- 15 RBI. He is going to win ALCS MVP and he's having one of the greatest postseasons we've ever seen. He now has seven homers and 20 RBI so far in 12 playoff games. 

October 24, 2023, 2:53 AM
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As the string gets played out here ...

... it's worth reflecting on the Astros' home woes. It's mind-boggling to see. They had the same home record at the Pirates this year. Only nine teams had worse home records. They are now missing the World Series after winning three road games in the same series, saddled with a 1-5 home playoff record. 

It's really one of the most bizarre things we've seen from an otherwise great team. 

On top of that, there are now two series in major professional sports to go seven games in which the road team won every game and both times it was the Astros losing the series. That's more coincidence than anything else, but it's notable. Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley, Yordan Alvarez, Martín Maldonado, Kyle Tucker, Ryan Pressly, Framber Valdez, José Urquidy and Bryan Abreu were around for both. 

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Nathaniel Lowe hits a home run into the first row in right field. Kyle Tucker got his glove on it, but the ball sneaked into the crowd. 

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We're through five innings. It's 8-2 Rangers. They're 12 outs from the third pennant in franchise history.

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Astros with some life

Two on with two outs for Altuve. Gotta push across something here. It's 8-2 Astros in the fourth.

October 24, 2023, 1:52 AM
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Adolis García sets LCS record

García has 14 RBI this series. That's an LCS record. The leaderboard: 

  • García, 14, 2023 ALCS for Rangers
  • Nelson Cruz, 13, 2011 ALCS for Rangers  
  • David Ortiz, 11, 2004 ALCS for Red Sox
  • BJ Upton, 11, 2008 ALCS for Rays
  • Hideki Matsui, 10, 2004 ALCS for Yankees
  • Bernie Williams, 10, 2004 ALCS for Yankees
  • Ivan Rodriguez, 10, 2003 NLCS for Marlins
  • Manny Ramirez, 10, 2007 ALCS for Red Sox
  • Don Baylor, 10, 1982 ALCS for Angels
October 24, 2023, 1:44 AM
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Not sure why they pitched to García with a base open there.

October 24, 2023, 1:32 AM
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Now García singles in two

He's 3 for 3 with 4 RBI. It's 8-2 Rangers.

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Carter doubles two

It hugs the line and stays just fair. The Rangers are up 6-2 and have runners on second and third with one out. The game might be hanging in the balance here.

October 24, 2023, 1:31 AM
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Seager only needs a triple for the cycle 👀

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Seager with an infield single off Abreu's glove to load the bases, but Abreu saved a run there with the dive. Kept it on the infield.

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Rangers in business again

Jung single and Semien walk puts two on with one out for Seager, who's homered and doubled already tonight. Texas is up 4-1 in the fourth. The fourth? The fourth. This game has defeated the pitch clock.

October 24, 2023, 1:28 AM
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J.P. and Ty are not related, btw

October 24, 2023, 1:25 AM
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J.P. France pitching in a close Game 7 is not something I had on my 2023 bingo card.

October 24, 2023, 1:22 AM
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Brantley lines out to Seager. The Astros strand Yordan at third after his one-out triple (!).

October 24, 2023, 1:19 AM
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Scherzer is out after 2 2/3 innings and 44 pitches. Montgomery is coming in to get the left-on-left matchup against Tucker, and presumably throw another few innings after that.

October 24, 2023, 1:16 AM
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Astros rallying

Alex Bregman homered with one out in the third to cut the Rangers' lead to 4-2. 

That is the 19th home run in Bregman's postseason career. The only players with more playoff home runs are Manny Ramirez (29), Jose Altuve (26), Bernie Williams (22), Derek Jeter (20) and Kyle Schwarber (20). Albert Pujols and George Springer are tied with Bregman at 19. 

Yordan Alvarez followed with a triple off the Crawford Boxes wall. After getting a groundout, Scherzer was removed from the game after just 2 2/3 innings.

October 24, 2023, 1:14 AM
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The hits off Cristian Javier in the first inning were death by a thousand cuts. Max Scherzer is giving up bullets right now.

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Jordan Montgomery is warming up in the bullpen.

October 24, 2023, 1:13 AM
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Adolis García hits another homer

Adolis García singled high off the wall in the first inning and posed like it was a home run. This time around, he made sure. 

He has now homered in four straight games. Remember, he hit the big home run in Game 5 until he was hit with a pitch and controversy ensued. The Astros came back to win. He also hit a grand slam in the ninth in Game 6 that broke the game wide open.   

García now has six home runs and 17 RBI in 12 games this postseason. He had 39 homers and 107 RBI in the regular season. 

The six home runs for García are the second-most for a Rangers player in a single postseason. The immortal Nelson Cruz homered eight times in the 2011 playoffs. Of course, that one included seven World Series games. 

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There was some movement in the Rangers' bullpen during the second inning. No one throwing, but some stretching.

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Astros strand a runner in the second

McCormick walks and steals second with one out, but Jeremy Peña and Martín Maldonado struck out. Scherzer has been wobbly one time through the lineup, but the Rangers are up 3-1.

October 24, 2023, 12:52 AM
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Hunter Brown it is

Brown gets the ball for the second for the Astros. He can make things easy on Dusty Baker if he gets through the fifth and they can bypass all the complicated decisions.

October 24, 2023, 12:38 AM
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Astros get one back, but Scherzer buckles down

A wild first inning is now complete. The Rangers got three runs and left two runners on base. The Astros staged a rally of their own in the bottom half. Jose Altuve led off with a double high off the left-field wall. After a groundout, Max Scherzer fell behind 3-0 to Yordan Alvarez and the Rangers didn't mess around. They just intentionally walked Alvarez then. José Abreu followed with a single to get the Astros on the board. 

On the first pitch to Michael Brantley, however, Scherzer was able to induce and inning-ending double play. 

Scherzer only threw 13 pitches, but he didn't look too good. We'll see how things shake out moving forward, but the Rangers have a 3-1 lead heading to the second.

October 24, 2023, 12:38 AM
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Astros bullpen

They now have eight innings left to cover. Here's what they've got: 

  • Late innings: Closer Ryan Pressly, setup man Bryan Abreu. As good as it gets. They could easily cover two innings and maybe three. 
  • Other setup: Hector Neris and Rafael Montero. Talented duo, but prone to the occasional meltdown. Still, you can count on these guys for six outs. Let's be generous and say between the four names listed so far, that's five innings. That leaves three to cover.
  • Middle guys: Ryne Stanek was brutal last night. Would Dusty really trust him again? Phil Maton already got two outs. Could he cover another inning? 
  • Hunter Brown and JP France were both starters in the regular season. They could provide length? Either one of them could go two innings, in all likelihood. 
  • Ronel Blanco is also on the roster, but I wouldn't expect him to be used if they can help it. 
  • The Wild Cards: Game 5 starter Justin Verlander is the big name, but don't forget about Game 4 starter José Urquidy. 

My hunch is some combination of Brown and France is used to cover the innings to get to Neris, Montero, Abreu and Pressly, but don't rule out seeing Verlander and/or Urquidy. 

October 24, 2023, 12:34 AM
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Jose Altuve literally just broke Minute Maid Park with a ringing double off the wall to greet Max Scherzer rudely.

October 24, 2023, 12:29 AM
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Cristian Javier doesn't make it out of the first

Astros starter Cristian Javier entered the game with a 2.08 career playoff ERA. It wasn't a tiny sample, either, as this was in 43 1/3 innings across 16 appearances. 

He exits this game with only 1/3 of an inning pitched while having allowed three runs on four hits and a walk. He didn't strike anyone out. The only out he recorded was a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Marcus Semien to start the game. Since then, the Rangers went home run, walk, single (high off the wall), single, single. Here's the Adolis García single: 

The Astros have a good bullpen, but the elite arms are at the end of the game in Ryan Pressly and Bryan Abreu. Astros manager Dusty Baker is going to have his work cut out for him in piecing this one together. Perhaps Justin Verlander will see action? For now, it's Phil Maton. 

October 24, 2023, 12:23 AM
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3-0 Rangers

Mitch Garver hit a blooper to center/left-center and Chas McCormick didn't really get a jump on it while Michael Brantley from LF couldn't get there. It looked like it might be a routine fly, but it ended up in no-man's land and García scored from second easily. It's 3-0 Rangers before the Astros have even gotten to bat. 

October 24, 2023, 12:18 AM
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Now it's 3-0 Rangers

Mitch Garver blooped a single to shallow center.

October 24, 2023, 12:17 AM
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