Texas Rangers Outlast Houston Astros, Take 2-0 ALCS Lead
HOUSTON -- For two games over two nights in the ALCS, and for seven games since the playoffs began, the Texas Rangers have won just about all of the big moments that have come their way this October. Texas was at it again Monday, winning a nail-biting 5-4 decision in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park that puts the Houston Astros in the kind of postseason hole they've rarely been in during their seven-season run of October dominance.
"I think that's what makes baseball special," said Rangers catcher Jonah Heim, who clanged a homer in Game 2 off a metallic sign above the Crawford Boxes. "You never know who's going to win the big moment."
While the Rangers haven't faced this kind of pressure cooker as a group before, a number of their key performers have been there and done that during their careers. One of those seasoned standouts is Texas Game 2 starter Nathan Eovaldi, who won his seventh career playoff game.
Eovaldi departed after gutting out six innings, allowing three runs and striking out nine.
The next big moment arose in the bottom of the eighth against the Texas bullpen. Alvarez mashed his second homer of the game and sixth of the postseason, taking lefty Aroldis Chapman deep to trim the Rangers' lead to one run.
With the orange towel-waving fans in Houston worked into a frenzy, anticipating the kind of climatic moment they've come to expect from the Astros, Bochy decided to insert closer Jose Leclerc for a possible four-out save.
But it appeared that he might have made the wrong call for once when Leclerc started off wild, walking both Jose Abreu and Brantley. Instead, Leclerc got McCormick to reach for a slider down in the zone. McCormick chopped it at Jung.
"I'd didn't have my best stuff," but his stuff was good enough for the bend-but-don't-break Rangers.
Now the Rangers are getting into historical territory. Texas has reeled off seven straight wins to start the playoffs, including six on the road.
Game 3 is slated for Wednesday at Globe Life Field. Texas will send ace Max Scherzer to the mound for his first action of the postseason. Houston will start righty Cristian Javier.
Follow the MLB Playoffs all the way through the World Series on ESPN 102.3/AM 1000 KSOO.
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Gallery Credit: Peter Richman