Astros tie ALCS with back-to-back road wins vs. Rangers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Houston manager Dusty Baker and third baseman Alex Bregman really have no explanation for why the Astros have been so good in that other retractable-roof stadium in Texas.
“I have no clue, to be honest with you,” Bregman said. “But I think the focus has been really good in that clubhouse.”
They do know the 250-mile trip north and another big-scoring road game against the Rangers has pulled Houston even in the AL Championship Series.
José Abreu hit a three-run homer right after Yordan Alvarez’s go-ahead sacrifice fly, and the Astros rolled to a 10-3 victory in Game 4 on Thursday night. They led 3-0 only four batters into the game, and responded immediately after Texas tied it on Corey Seager’s opposite-field homer in the third inning.
Adolis García also homered for the wild-card Rangers, who have dropped two games in a row at home after starting this postseason with seven consecutive wins — six on the road. That included sweeps of the AL’s two winningest teams, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
“Nobody thought it was going to be easy,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “(The Astros) have played very well in this ballpark. We need to change that.”
Game 5 is Friday afternoon at Globe Life Field, where the defending World Series champion Astros are 8-1 this season. The home team has yet to lead in this ALCS, which switches back to Houston for Game 6 on Sunday night.
“They keep asking me that same question," Baker said about his team's success in Arlington. “I’ve got the same answer: I don’t know."
Jose Altuve had three hits in his 100th career postseason game and scored three runs for a record sixth time. Alvarez drove in three, giving him 13 RBIs already this postseason, and Chas McCormick added a two-run homer.
“It makes it even more special because we won,” said Altuve, the seventh big leaguer to play in 100 postseason games. “Nothing’s done yet, but to be able to get the opportunity to come back and tie the series ... it’s really important for us.”
The Astros have outscored Texas 74-32 in winning their last seven games at Globe Life. They won 8-5 in Game 3 of the first postseason series between the instate AL West rivals.
“They crush the ball here, man. I don’t have an answer other than that,” Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe said. “Maybe it’s too nice in the visiting clubhouse and we need to maybe switch up the spread, leave something uncooked a little bit.”
AL West champion Houston has won 18 of its past 21 road games overall, including a three-game sweep during the first week of September when the Astros homered 16 times and outscored the Rangers 39-10.
Dane Dunning, who entered in relief for Texas in the first inning, had an 0-2 count against No. 9 batter Martin Maldonado to open the fourth with the game tied before walking him and then Altuve. Mauricio Dubón followed with his second soft single of the game before Bregman struck out with the bases loaded.
Rookie lefty Cody Bradford came on and Alvarez hit his ninth pitch 401 feet to the warning track in center field for a sac fly. Abreu's fourth homer this postseason made it 7-3.
"I went up there, I needed a great swing (and) thankfully the pitch was where I wanted it to be,” Abreu said through a translator.
Ryne Stanek got the win, throwing only one pitch after replacing starter José Urquidy in the third. Stanek threw a slider to induce Mitch Garver's inning-ending double-play grounder.
“Wild,” Stanek said. "It’s something that you only even notice it way after. ... You’re just going to go out and do my job and by circumstance I happen to get a win.”
Altuve opened the game with a double and Dubón, after three hits in Game 3, followed with a bloop single off Andrew Heaney. Bregman drove both home with a triple into the right-center gap, and the Rangers already had Dunning up in the bullpen before Alvarez singled to make it 3-0.
The Rangers were still down 7-3, but had two on with no outs in the fifth when a finger of Marcus Semien’s batting glove was the difference between a lineout and a crucial double play. The Rangers baserunner was sliding back to first base after Abreu snagged Seager’s 108.6 mph liner, lunging to tag Semien just as his hand reached the bag, and first base umpire Jordan Baker signaled safe. The Astros challenged and the call was overturned.
Game 5 will be a rematch of the trade-deadline acquisitions who started the series opener. Rangers left-hander Jordan Montgomery threw 6 1/3 innings in Game 1 as Texas won 2-0. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who allowed both runs over six innings, will make his 21st career postseason start for the Astros. They got him back from the Mets on Aug. 1.
Alvarez and Abreu are the first teammates in postseason history with at least four homers and 10 RBIs in a team's first eight playoff games.
Seager became the first shortstop to homer in both the NLCS and ALCS with his 401-foot solo drive to left-center in the third. He was with the Los Angeles Dodgers when they played 16 neutral-site postseason games at Globe Life Field while winning the World Series title in 2020. Seager was MVP in both the NLCS and World Series. He hit five homers in that seven-game NLCS.
It was the first time in Heaney's 156 career starts (154 regular season and two postseason) that he didn't make it out of the first inning. ... Urquidy, who allowed three runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings, entered 5-0 with a 2.82 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers.
A game was played at Globe Life Field with the roof open for the first time in nearly five months. It was 78 degrees under clear skies when the game began. Texas was 7-4 during the regular season with the roof open, the last game being May 21.
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