'No panic' in Astros as Alvarez, Altuve spark G3 win

October 19th, 2023

ARLINGTON -- stood near his locker in the Globe Life Field visitors’ clubhouse late on Wednesday evening, his gray uniform pants still clouded with dirt from a ninth-inning slide into home plate. The Astros' designated hitter seemed to be in a playful mood.

“Did you think we were panicking?” Alvarez asked through an interpreter, clearly enjoying his club’s 8-5 victory over the Rangers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series.

No, that certainly did not seem to be the case. In fact, most corners of the Houston clubhouse believed they were a few big swings away from authoring a much different opening to the series.

As it has all year, taking the show on the road provided a spark. Alvarez and did some of the heavy lifting as the Astros won their sixth consecutive game at Globe Life Field, including the regular season. Over those six games, Houston has outscored Texas, 61-33.

“I said before we left home that when other teams face us, something that characterizes this team is that there is no panic,” Alvarez said. “You see it on everybody’s face; there’s no panic, there’s some confidence there.”

Houston took its first lead of the series in the second inning as Alvarez chugged home on Max Scherzer’s bases-loaded wild pitch -- Alvarez’s Major League-leading 11th run scored of this postseason.

Martín Maldonado followed with a two-run single to left field, highlighting the early outburst against Scherzer, who appeared rusty after having not pitched in a game since Sept. 12.

“Maldy’s base hit with two RBIs was probably the key for tonight, and then we scored more runs,” Altuve said. “We did a lot of good stuff today.”

Altuve added to the advantage in the third, slugging his 25th career postseason home run, a Statcast-projected 413-foot solo drive to left field that marked his first hit of the ALCS.

The blast snapped a string of 18 consecutive plate appearances without a hit for Altuve, who had most recently notched a knock in Game 3 of the AL Division Series vs. the Twins.

“It felt good to get it going and help the team, and start feeling good,” Altuve said.

With the blast, Altuve moved closer to catching Manny Ramirez (29) for the all-time postseason home run lead. Altuve ranks second, ahead of Bernie Williams (22) and Derek Jeter (20).

Altuve added a single in the seventh inning, securing his 33rd postseason multihit game, third-most behind Jeter (58) and Williams (36). Altuve also became the fourth player to tally 200 or more total bases in postseason play, with his 202 trailing only Jeter (302), Ramirez (223) and Williams (223).

“He comes to play every day,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “You see him look bad on one at-bat and he'll pop you the next at-bat. This guy is one of the best playoff players of all time. We love him. The fans in Houston love him. He's a fan favorite. You enjoy watching him play every day.”

Alvarez nearly homered in the sixth, but he was robbed by Leody Taveras’ terrific leaping catch at the center-field wall. Alvarez responded by dunking a two-run single off Will Smith in the seventh that extended the Astros’ lead to 7-2 at the time.

“As a whole, we just put together better at-bats throughout the lineup today,” said third baseman Alex Bregman.

Adding a ninth-inning single, Alvarez joined Carlos Beltran (2004) and Alex Rodriguez (2009) as the only players to tally five or more home runs, 10 or more RBIs and 10 or more hits in their first seven games of a postseason.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time, and we’re going to play like the series is 0-0,” Alvarez said. “We need four wins, and today was one of them.”