By: Nicholas Gilanfar
Game 1 of the ALCS fulfilled the expectations of the cross-town rivalry between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros as the Rangers took Game 1 with a score of 2-0. For the duration of the postseason, the Rangers have not missed a beat offensively and defensively improving to a perfect 6-0 in the playoffs with only three wins away from hoisting the pennant for the third time in franchise history.
With Houston rolling with their ace Justin Verlander, it was known from the beginning that for the Rangers to make noise in game one is to get him out of the shuffle early and raise his pitch count fast. The Rangers offense remained aggressive on Verlander out of the gates forcing him out of the game pitching 6.2 innings and letting up six hits and two runs. Still a solid pitching performance from Verlander but the Rangers stayed within their craft when it came to pressuring him featuring an RBI single from C Jonah Heim and a solo home run from CF Leody Taveras as the only two runs of game one.
The Rangers Goose Egg
Jordan Montgomery was on the bump for the Rangers for game one as he pitched yet again a masterful performance providing a well-needed base for the bullpen to finish up the game against the pesky Houston batting order.
This was Montgomery’s third start in the postseason and second scoreless appearance in that span pitching 6.1 innings while only letting up five hits and 0 runs. Game one was a pitching duel, as both Verlander and Montgomery were bringing their best stuff it just came to who can stay disciplined and Texas was able to maintain their lead and clinch game one.
Following Montgomery were the usual high-leverage relievers Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Leclerc. All three were firing on all cylinders as the most pressure out of the three relievers fell on Aroldis Chapman. Chapman is known to struggle against the Houston Astros from his time with the New York Yankees. Because of past appearances the decision to put him out there was concerning to most.
When Chapman made his way to the mound the first batter, he saw was 3B Alex Bregman with 2B Jose Altuve occupying first base. After having a lengthy battle with Bregman, he eventually makes contact that looks deep enough to be the potential game-tying home run, until rookie phenom Evan Carter makes a spectacular diving catch as well as catching Jose Altuve on the bases being able to turn a 7-6-4 double play which was ultimately the dagger for Houston in the eighth innings.
After the momentum-changing double play in the eighth inning, the Rangers decided to roll out closer Jose Leclerc for the sixth consecutive playoff game pitching six innings while only letting up one run in the postseason. Leclerc went in there after four days rest and did what Leclerc does best by attacking the batting order and striking out Astros OF Chas McCormick for the final out of the game to take game one of the ALCS.
A Stellar Performance from CF Leody Tavares
Rangers center fielder Leody Taveras had a dynamic game offensively in game one logging valuable at-bats and getting on base each time featuring a single, home run, and a walk. Taveras was ultimately credited for the only two runs of the ball game as he is not your typical number-nine hitter. The Rangers saw in the regular season that when Leody is producing efficient at-bats, the Rangers only surge from there as having him as the nine hitters with absurd offensive production is almost like having two leadoff hitters.
The narrative coming into the series with Houston has been that the Rangers have bought their way to the top. Yes, the Rangers have found significant value in the middle infield as well as acquiring starting pitching. But something to keep in mind is that three homegrown guys in 3B Josh Jung and outfielders Evan Carter and Leody Taveras came up in the Rangers farm system and have been making well-known contributions to this postseason run.
Game 2 will take place on Monday at 3:37 p.m. CST at Minute Made Park in Houston Texas. The pitching matchup will be Nathan Eovaldi for Texas and Framber Valdez for Houston.
Photo Via Erik Williams/ USA Today Sports