By Field Level Media
5:14 AM UTC – October 24, 2023
October 24 – HOUSTON — Texas Rangers right fielder Adolis Garcia was at the center of a bench-clearing incident in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, an ugly moment that seemed to sully a hotly contested matchup between in-state rivals.
Garcia erased the memory of his role in that brouhaha by homering twice in Game 7 to pace an unrelenting, 15-hit barrage, propelling the Rangers to an 11-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday and securing for Texas the AL pennant and a third World Series berth.
The Rangers claimed the best-of-seven series 4-3 and advanced to the World Series for the first time since 2011.
Game 1 of the Fall Classic will be played Friday in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers will host the winner of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, set to be played Tuesday by the host Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“You know the World Series, obviously you have the talent,” said Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, who will manage in his fifth World Series with a third club. “But this team has played with so much heart and determination as any club I’ve had. They all have.
“But it’s just amazing how they kept getting up. We went through ups and downs with the injuries. We ran into a lot of streaks.”
Texas improved to 8-0 on the road this postseason by winning all four games in Houston while completing just the second series in postseason history where the road team claimed every contest. The Astros were on the losing end of the first occurrence when they dropped Game 7 of the 2019 World Series at home against the Washington Nationals.
Garcia finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs on Monday. He clubbed his fourth homer of the series and sixth of the postseason leading off the third inning, an opposite-field shot down the right field line off Astros rookie Hunter Brown that extended Texas’ lead to 4-1.
Garcia homered again in the eighth off Game 4 starter Jose Urquidy, pushing his RBI total for the ALCS to 15 — a record for any postseason series. Garcia subsequently was selected ALCS Most Valuable Player.
Garcia opened Game 6 on Sunday 0-for-4 with four strikeouts before hitting a ninth-inning grand slam. Starting with that plate appearance, he went 4-for-4 with two home runs and eight RBIs over four at-bats to lead the Rangers’ charge past Houston.
“I definitely think that the atmosphere and the type of game, the scenario that we’re in fuels us out there,” said Garcia, who was booed lustily throughout Game 6 before his late homer silenced the crowd. “I think I take all that in, and it just helps us perform to the best of my ability.”
Texas wasted no time springing to the lead in Game 7, chasing Astros starter Cristian Javier (2-1) with a three-run first. Javier had allowed a total of two runs in four previous postseason starts, but he recorded only one out while surrendering a solo homer to Corey Seager, his third this postseason, and RBI singles to Garcia and Mitch Garver.
Javier allowed four hits and one walk. The Rangers sent eight batters to the plate in the first.
“Once an offensive team gets five or six at-bats on you, they’re going to score and they’re going to do some damage,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker, who is now 0-4 in Game 7s as a manager.
The Astros, seeking a third consecutive AL pennant, responded with a single from Jose Abreu that drove home Jose Altuve in the bottom of the first and a solo homer from Alex Bregman with one out in the third. Both tallies came against Texas right-hander Max Scherzer.
But Houston stranded runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings. Texas blew it open in the fourth when Evan Carter and Garcia recorded successive two-RBI hits off Astros rookie J.P. France to up the lead to 8-2. Nathaniel Lowe homered for Texas in the sixth.
Scherzer yielded two runs in 2 2/3 innings. Jordan Montgomery (3-0), who started Games 1 and 5 for the Rangers, came out of the bullpen to win Game 7. He tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out one.
The Astros went 4-for-31 with runners in scoring position across four home games in the ALCS. Including the postseason, the Astros finished 40-47 at Minute Maid Park, a stunning result for the dethroned champions.
“We have been spoiled around here as far as winning and winning and winning,” Baker said. “And heck, I’ve been here four years, and we’ve been to two World Series and two Championship Series. We have nothing to be ashamed of or nothing to hold our head down about.”
–MK Bower, Field Level Media