By: Nicholas Gilanfar
After seven straight postseason victories and a 2-0 series lead on the Houston Astros, the Rangers officially find themselves in a win or go home situation after dropping the last three games at home now trailing the series 3-2. With a Houston Astros win in game six on Sunday, it will punch their ticket to their third straight World Series.
Game 5 was taken out of the Rangers hands as they lost 5-4, highlighted by a three-run home run by Houston 2B Jose Altuve in the top of the ninth. Just like game one it was yet another pitching duel featuring Jordan Montgomery and Justin Verlander. Montgomery pitched 5.1 innings letting up five hits and two runs while Verlander pitched 5.2 innings letting up six hits and four runs as he was dominating the Rangers batting order until he was plucked by OF Adolis Garcia’s game changing three run home run.
An Undeniable Fifth and Sixth Innings
In the first inning Montgomery was stunned early on as number three hitter 3B Alex Bregman continued the momentum carried on during game four by making a statement as they punched a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a solo home run from Bregman. Montgomery threw about 20 pitches that inning, it concerned most Ranger fans as they have had to use twelve different pitchers in the last two games. Luckily, after a bumpy first Montgomery kept his pace by posting four consecutive scoreless innings after the solo shot by Alex Bregman.
Now entering the fifth, Justin Verlander finally gets stumped by the Rangers lineup as 1B Nathaniel Lowe was able to go yard with a solo home run tying then game at one a piece. After the solo home run the Astros came up to bat as they were able to chase Montgomery out of the ball game with an RBI from 1B Jose Abreu to make the game 2-1.
With chances starting to dwindle with an undeniable pitching performance from Justin Verlander, here comes Adolis Garcia. Garcia came up to bat with two base runners as he is able tocome clean with the at bat and deliver a go ahead three run home runs to put the Rangers in the lead for the first time of the ball game at 4-2. At that point Globe Life Field is about to explode as Garcia from an instant knows the ball is headed to the stands and spikes his bat as a statement to the Astros as he put Ranger Nation is a feeding frenzy.
After the Garcia home run, chaos erupted in his next at bat as the new pitcher in relief for the Astros Bryan Abreu intentionally hit Garcia with the first pitch which made the benches clear as Garcia was livid as he first confronted Astros catcher Martin Maldonado thinking he called the pitch. Maldonaldo also had a feud with Rangers 2B Marcus Semien when they met during the season as Maldonaldo seems to be the instigator in situations like these. The benches clearing fiasco took place in the eighth inning which resulted close to a 20-minute delay as well as ejections issued by Rangers OF Adolis Garcia, Astros RP Bryan Abreu as well as skipper Dusty Baker who lost is cool on an unordinary occasion.
Leclerc Finally Lets His Guard Down
After the scuffle between Garcia and Abreu, the two teams returned to play as Rangers reliver Aroldis Chapman came into the game as he was only able to record two outs leaving a 1.1 save opportunity to Jose Leclerc as the Rangers still had a 4-2 lead.
Leclerc was able to finish the eight, but things started to get hectic when he let two runners on base with no outs as 2B Jose Altuve has a chance to tie it up. After battling for a little bit, Altuve finds his sweet spot and stuns the Rangers with a 3 run go ahead home run putting a bow on the Astros 5-4 victory. In the previous seven appearances Leclerc had the hot hand pitching 7.1 innings while only letting up one run in the entire postseason. Houston was the team to find the answer to Leclerc’s stellar postseason run as the Astros now find themselves one win away from the pennant with the remainderof the series residing in Houston Texas at Minute Maid Park.
Featured Image via Elias Valverde II/ Dallas Morning News