By: Nicholas Gilanfar
With Game 6 headed back to enemy territory, it was a must-win scenario for the Texas Rangers as they dropped three straight home games trailing the series at 3-2. Luckily the Rangers remained resilient and played their cards right, being able to complete a 9-2 victory in Houston to force a game seven. Now with Texas and Houston tied at three games apiece, Game 7 will be a win-or-go-home situation for both teams as it will be a quick turnaround with game seven taking place on Monday at 7:00 PM (CST).
Game six was a tight-knit game throughout its entirety until it was split open in the ninth inning featuring an Adolis Garcia grand slam to extend the Rangers’ lead to 9-2. In game five the Rangers were served the brutal ending with a go-ahead three-run home run from Jose Altuve, now with the clinching grand slam Garcia gave the Astros a taste of their own medicine.
Like the offensive production in game six, the Rangers tallied yet another stellar performance on the mound with Nathan Eovaldi appearing in his fourth postseason game as he improved his 2023 postseason record to 4-0 throwing 6.1 innings and only letting up five hits and two runs. The bullpen behind Eovaldi was also able to hold their end of the bargain with the likes of Josh Sborz, Jose Leclerc, and Andre Heaney.
In Game 5 of the ALCS Garcia hit a statement three-run home run to put the Rangers in front of the Astros at 4-2. In a high stake magnitude, Garcia decided to walk halfway to first base and spike his bat to put emphasis on how much that home run meant to him as well as the fan base. After the homerun celebration, Garcia’s next at-bat resulted in a first-pitch hit by pitch from Astros reliever Bryan Abreu as he is a righty and does not casually drill right-handed batters. Because of so, all ruckuses broke loose and both Abreu and Garcia were ejected for the remainder of game five. Houston reliever Bryan Abreu ended up getting suspended but appealed the suspension prior to game six so he could pitch before he had his hearing. If the appeal doesn’t go in Abreu’s favor the two-game suspension will be forced for game seven as well as game one of the World Series or opening day 2024.
Following the Game 5 scuffle, Jose Altuve ends up walking off the Rangers in the ninth with all momentum possible in Houston’s direction. Coming into game six there was an immense amount of pressure on Adolis Garcia as he took on the villain role with waterfalls of boos at Minute Made Park. The first four at-bats were rough sailing for Garcia as he struck out on all four occasions at it seemed like the ruckus Astro fans were starting to get to him. Garcia also had a chance to face Bryan Abreu in the eighth which resulted in his fourth punch out of the game.
In the ninth inning, the Rangers started to spread the scoring margin by extending their lead to 5-2 at that point of the game. With a ninth-inning tandem of Houston relievers Rafael Montero and Ryne Stanek, Garcia has the chance to face Stanek. With the bases loaded Garcia makes the most of his opportunity to silence the Houston crowd by hitting a grand slam in the ninth to put a bow on game six and extend to game seven. Although Garcia’s statement grand slam, contributions from catchers Mitch Garver who hit a solo home run, and Jonah Heim who hit a two-run home run propelled the Rangers to the victory.
Thanks to Eovaldi, Game Seven Will Feature a Full Bullpen
With another gem from Nathan Eovaldi, that gives the Rangers many options on the reliever front in Game 7. Eovaldi went 6.1 innings while letting up five hits and two runs pitching the majority of the game making room for our regular relievers in Josh Sborz and Jose Leclerc. Sborz pitched an inning and Leclerc pitched 0.2 inning. Both usually are able to cap off two innings but did not have to due to Garcia’s dagger at the end of the game. As for the ninth inning, instead of rolling out Aroldis Chapman who notably struggles against Houston, we got to give him an extra day of rest and have starter Andrew Heaney close the 9-2 Game 6 victory.
The game seven starter will be Max Scherzer who has pitched one game this postseason. When he pitched in game three, it was his first appearance in 36 days as he was ruled out for the rest of the season. In Game three Scherzer pitched four innings while letting up five hits and five runs. Obviously, Scherzer coming into game seven is on a short leash but if anybody can get out of a funk it is baseball legend Max Scherzer as his last game seven victory was against the Houston Astros when he was a part of the World Series Washington Nationals team as he clinched the title for them.
If things don’t go in Scherzer’s favor, a healthy and well-rested bullpen will create wonders for the Rangers as the bullpen consists of five known starters Cody Bradford, Dane Dunning, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and Martin Perez. If Scherzer were to run into road bumps again there would be a great amount of confidence in our starters in the bullpen as each of those five guys can give us a full workload and make an impact in the game.
What’s at Stake
Game seven is one of the greatest words in sports as it represents a win-or-go-home situation. If the Rangers win game seven, they will clinch their third American League Pennant in Rangers History and will play the winner of Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. If Houston wins, the Texas Rangers season will come to an end.
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