ARLINGTON -- With the Rangers having wrestled control of the American League Championship Series away from the Astros with a pair of tight wins in Houston, the series shifts up Interstate 45 to Arlington -- where Texas will be looking to push the Astros to the brink of elimination in Game 3.
The Rangers are two wins shy of their first World Series berth since 2011. The defending World Series champion Astros, meanwhile, don’t mind the road life, having won 16 of their past 19 games away from home, including a dominating sweep of Texas at Globe Life Field from Sept. 4-6.
“I think for the most part, we know they’ve got a great ballclub,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. “We’re just going to try and execute a little bit better, pass the torch to the next guy a little bit better, do the little things a little bit better and focus on one game at a time, one pitch at a time.”
The Rangers are 7-0 in the postseason, which ties the 2022 Astros for the second-longest winning streak in AL history to begin the playoffs. In addition to the home crowd, Texas will have history on its side. Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven postseason series have won the series 75 times in 89 tries.
“I think that it's definitely one game at a time,” Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien said. “We've only had one game at home; we played extremely well. So it will be fun to get back in front of the home crowd. With that being said, Houston has been playing well in that building, too. We need to buckle down when we get there and play some good baseball like we've been doing.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Wednesday’s game will be televised in the U.S. on FS1 at 8:03 p.m. ET/7:03 p.m. CT.
All series are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives will be available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Astros: RHP Cristian Javier
Javier had an up-and-down regular season, but he has risen to the occasion in the playoffs, something the Astros hope continues. Javier threw five scoreless innings in Houston’s 9-1 win over the Twins in Game 3 of the AL Division Series. In 15 career postseason appearances (three starts), Javier has a 1.91 ERA across 37 2/3 innings.
Rangers: RHP Max Scherzer
The Rangers announced prior to Game 2 that Scherzer, who missed the ALDS, would start Game 3. The right-hander had been sidelined since Sept. 13 with a low-grade strain of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder. Scherzer is no stranger to the postseason -- he is 7-7 with a 3.58 ERA in 133 1/3 playoff innings in his career, including winning the World Series with the Nationals in 2019.
After joining the Rangers at the Trade Deadline, Scherzer posted a 3.20 ERA across eight starts.
What are the starting lineups?
Astros: After speaking to the slumping Kyle Tucker about temporarily moving him down in the batting order, manager Dusty Baker did just that for Game 3, dropping Tucker to the six-hole -- the lowest he's batted this year. With Michael Brantley having so much success (20-for-54, including postseason) against Scherzer in his career, it's no surprise Brantley was moved up to No. 2 for such a critical game. Mauricio Dubón earns the start in center over Chas McCormick.
Rangers: Manager Bruce Bochy changed things up in Game 2 with Astros lefty Framber Valdez on the mound. For the first time this postseason, rookie sensation Evan Carter didn’t start a game, as Bochy opted for both Mitch Garver and Robbie Grossman in the lineup. With Javier starting for Houston in Game 3, Carter was back in the Texas lineup but in the three-hole.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Astros: Five Astros relievers combined to throw 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 2, but with an off-day Tuesday, Houston’s bullpen should be full go for Game 3. The Astros still have a pair of long relievers who haven’t pitched in the series -- Ronel Blanco and Hunter Brown -- so they will have no trouble covering innings if needed.
Rangers: The bullpen as a whole has been a weakness this season, but the unit has been relatively steady this postseason. Only three relievers were used in Games 1 and 2 -- Josh Sborz, José Leclerc and Aroldis Chapman -- but they have been the Rangers’ most consistent arms this postseason. After the off-day, they should all be rested for Game 3, though Texas may need one of its long relief options -- Andrew Heaney, Dane Dunning or Cody Bradford -- to come up behind Scherzer, whose pitch count should be around 75-80.
Any injuries of note?
Astros: Relief pitcher Kendall Graveman is battling right shoulder discomfort and is not on the ALCS roster.
Rangers: With Scherzer and Jon Gray both being activated from the injured list for the ALCS, the Rangers are in relatively good health at this point. Reliever Jonathan Hernández was again left off the roster due to a right lat strain, an injury that Bochy said was sustained during Game 162, when Hernández tossed one perfect inning with two strikeouts in Texas’ 1-0 loss to Seattle.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
Astros: How can we start with anyone but Alvarez? Monday started with news leaking that the slugger was dealing with some sort of virus; by the end of the game, he had added two more homers to his postseason legend and nearly carried the Astros on his shoulders to a Game 2 win. Alvarez leads all players this postseason with six homers, 10 runs scored, a 1.261 slugging percentage and a 1.701 OPS.
Tucker is still struggling; the right fielder was 0-for-4 again in Game 2 and is hitting .091 in the postseason.
Rangers: Jonah Heim has hits in all seven of the Rangers’ postseason games. The streak is the fourth longest in Texas postseason history and the longest for a player exclusively playing catcher during a single postseason since Ivan Rodriguez had an 11-game streak for the Marlins in 2003.
Carter drew a walk as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of Game 2 and has reached base in all seven games this postseason. He has reached base a total of 15 times in those seven games.
Robbie Grossman was 0-for-2 in Game 2 and is batting .125 in the postseason.