All momentum was on the Houston Astros’ side after a ninth inning for the ages in Game 5, but the Texas Rangers didn’t hear a fat lady sing.
The Rangers forced a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series on Sunday with a 9-2 win over Houston.
It was the Astros who struck first – who else but Yordan Alvarez to get things going with an RBI single – before Mitch Garver launched a solo homer in the top of the second to tie it, and Jonah Heim’s two-run shot in the fourth gave Texas a 3-1 lead.
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Houston opened up the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles, and two batters later, Mauricio Dubon’s sac fly cut their deficit to a run. The lead run came to the plate in the seventh, which knocked Nathan Eovaldi out of the game, but Michael Brantley grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Garver added insurance with an RBI double in the top of the eighth off Bryan Abreu, who appealed his two-game suspension that was handed to him after MLB deemed he intentionally hit Adolis Garcia (whom he had struck out right before Garver’s two-bagger).
The lead run came to the plate with one out in the bottom of the eighth, and Rangers manager Bruce Bochy went with closer José Leclerc. He promptly walked Kyle Tucker to load the bases, but Dubon lined out to short, and Jon Singleton, pinch-hitting for defending ALCS and World Series MVP Jeremy Pena, struck out.
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Texas loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the ninth, forcing the Astros to go to the bullpen again, but Ryne Stanek plunked Corey Seager to bring in a run and make it 5-2 Texas. Two batters later, Garcia got some revenge and launched a grand slam into the Crawford Boxes, icing the game.
Eovaldi tossed 6.1 innings of two-run ball, putting his postseason ERA at a healthy 2.42. It was his fourth quality start in as many appearances this postseason.
Houston struggled at home all season, going 39-42 at Minute Maid Park – their 51-30 record on the road was the third-best in the big leagues. The road team has won each game of this series.
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Game 7 is back in Houston on Monday night.