Rangers rebound from home woes to slam Houston, force Game 7

Road team wins again behind Eovaldi's strong start, García's grand slam in 9th

October 23rd, 2023

HOUSTON -- Rangers reliever admitted the club had a night to sulk after a gut-punch loss in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

“One hundred sixty two games, you're going to have bad days,” he said ahead of Game 6. “Things might not go our way, but just stay calm and do our jobs.”

It could have been a soul-crushing loss in Game 5 at home, when Jose Altuve launched a go-ahead, three-run homer off in the ninth inning. The Rangers could have rolled over without much of a fight, but Game 6 back in Houston was anything but a surrender for Texas.

On the back of ace , delivering yet another phenomenal postseason start, home runs from catching duo and , and finished off by a ninth-inning grand slam from , the Rangers surged to a 9-2 victory Sunday night at Minute Maid Park to force a Game 7 in the ALCS.

“We know the other night we got punched in the stomach, and it hurt,” Heim said. “We had a day off to, I guess you can say, sit in our beds and cry. But as long as we came back today and got back to work and focused and played as a team, we were going to be just fine. I think everybody came ready to play. There's really no nerves. We just went out and played baseball, what we did 162 times this year.”

With the win, the Rangers are 2-8 all time in potential elimination games in franchise history, with the only other win coming in Game 5 of the 2010 ALDS against the Rays. 

“We didn’t have a choice tonight,” said second baseman . “We had our backs against the wall. We did just enough to keep the lead, we got out of some jams and then just a big swing by Adolis. … We live to fight another day and we'll see what tomorrow brings.”

The road team has now won all six games to begin the ALCS.

Texas is 7-0 on the road this postseason, becoming just the second team to win its first seven road games in one postseason run (1996 Yankees). The only other team with a road win streak of seven-plus games in a single postseason was the 2019 Nationals (eight games, including over the Astros in the World Series).

“Never seen it, I don't know if it's ever happened before,” Garver said of the home/road splits in this series. “Seems a little odd that nobody is winning at home. I would like for it to stay that way. It is interesting with two very passionate fan bases. Playing on the road is not an easy thing to do, but we've been doing it all postseason. It's just one of those things, maybe it brings out the best in us. Maybe we rise to the occasion, but it's been tough. We’re up for the challenge.”

The Rangers will now hand the ball to for Game 7 on Monday night. The right-hander, whom Texas acquired at the Trade Deadline to bolster the rotation, made his first start since Sept. 12 in the Game 3 loss in Arlington.

Scherzer looked rusty in his return, allowing five runs in four innings. He’ll look to bounce back in a big way in order to send the Rangers to the World Series.

In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams that have won Game 6 to force a Game 7 have come out on top in that winner-take-all contest 33 of 59 times (56%). As for Game 7, teams playing in their home ballparks are only 62-63 all-time in winner-take-all postseason games, including 30-27 in best-of-seven series.

“Resilient” has been the theme of this team all season, especially when things got tough down the stretch. Each time the Rangers have stumbled -- right down to losing the division on the final day of the regular season to the Astros -- they’ve fought to get right back in the thick of things.

Now, one win against their division rival stands between them and the World Series.

“We knew that [the Astros] weren't just going to roll over,” Eovaldi said. “When we came in here [and won two], they answered right back and took three at our place. It's big for us to be able to turn the page and be able to lock in on this game today. Now we've got to do the same thing tomorrow. And obviously it's win or go home.

“We have to make sure we do what we did today and I think that sets the tone with the starting pitching, and Scherzer is going to be able to do that tomorrow. We go out there and attack the zone and keep them off balance as much as possible, but everybody will be ready to go.”