Friday newsletter time: Rangers’ Game 5 tasks include slowing Astros’ lineup
(AP photo/Godofredo A. Våsquez)
ARLINGTON — The Rangers remain two wins a way from the World Series, and no one should be surprised if they turn the American League Championship Series back around as early as this afternoon in Game 5.
They’ve been the streakiest team in baseball the past three months, as is evident by their seven straight wins to open the postseason and then two eggs they laid the past two nights. While fully capable of long winning streaks in the final two months, they could also lose three or four games, or more.
They don’t have any room for that now.
The ALCS is now a best-of-3 series after the Astros thumped the Rangers 10-3 on Thursday night. Tied with Houston at two games apiece, the Rangers will have to win at least one game at Minute Maid Park to win the series. Game 6, which is now necessary, is scheduled for Sunday night.
First up, though, the Rangers have to worry about Game 5. They will have left-hander Jordan Montgomery on the mound, and that’s a good thing. Rangers hitters will be facing Justin Verlander, which doesn’t sound great. Historically speaking, he hasn’t been as good in the postseason, so maybe he’s due for another stinker.
The main concern is the Astros’ offense. It’s been unstoppable at Globe Life Field, to the tune of 74 runs during Houston’s seven-game winning streak in the $1.2 billion ballpark.
Maybe the Rangers should have requested going back to Houston today.
Rangers hitters will need to score more than the two run they produced against Verlander in the Game 1 victory. They need to get at least five innings from Montgomery, so that the Rangers can go to Jon Gray, Josh Sborz, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Leclerc.
Don’t rule out Max Scherzer for an inning on what would be his bullpen day.
The Rangers really need to win this one.
For those in the silver-linings crowd, Corey Seager might have conquered whatever was limiting him over the first three games.
He homered in his second at-bat, an opposite-field shot that tied the game at 3 in the third. He hit three balls with exit velocities of at least 103 mph. His hardest was a 108.6-mph lineout that was turned into a crucial double play when Jose Abreu tagged the finger of a batting glove sticking out of Marcus Semien’s back pocket.
When something outlandish like that happens, it’s probably not going to be your day.
Hot or cold at the plate, Seager has been solid defensively at shortstop. With a lefty starting for the Rangers today, Seager and third baseman Josh Jung could be busy.
Hats off to Max Scherzer, Dane Dunning and Andrew Heaney the past two nights. The three pitchers, who each struggled, were at their lockers waiting for the media as soon as the clubhouse opened.
They answered the same questions to different waves of reporters, which can be a beatdown, and they took accountability for their performances. Dunning knew he should have never ever ever walked the light-hitting Martin Maldonado to open the fourth inning Thursday after the Rangers had just tied the game on Seager’s homer.
Heaney said his pitch location was lousy in the first inning, which he didn’t finish.
Scherzer tried to stay positive after Game 3, but he said that he didn’t execute well enough and that he agreed with the decision to remove him from the game after four innings.
Starting pitchers learn early that they are expected at their lockers to talk to the media after each start. It’s not easy being professional, especially with some of the questions that are asked, but that trio endured and I, for one, am thankful.
Card of the Week
Our plea for help was heard last week.
We lamented that we were running out of rookie cards to feature in Card of the Week, and this one fell in our laps thanks to a reader who will remain anonymous.
It’s the 2023 Topps Update Cody Bradford rookie.
Considering how well Bradford has pitched this season, it’s a timely arrival, too. Yes, he gave up the three-run homer to Jose Abreu that took the starch out of Game 5, but he has allowed only one run over 5 2/3 innings this postseason.
Bradford made his MLB debut in May after splendid start to the season at Triple A Round Rock. He bounced back and forth between the Rangers and the minors, but he pitched enough (and well enough) at Triple A to be the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year.
Josh Jung will be the Rangers Rookie of the Year, but Bradford’s contributions shouldn’t be overlooked. The Rangers haven’t overlooked them, and they will head into spring training knowing they have a versatile pitcher who could start, relieve or do both.
Me, after realizing I have to go back to Houston. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) October 15, 2023
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org