Astros defeat Rangers 8-5 in Game 3 of ALCS

The Houston Astros defeated the Texas Rangers 8-5 in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night. The Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series by a 2-1 margin. The Astros are, of course, seeking their second consecutive World Series championship.

The Astros received a strong start from Cristian Javier, who did not allow a hit until the late stages of the fifth inning. Offensively, Houston maintained pressure on the returning Max Scherzer throughout his four-inning start. The Astros then broke open the game against the Rangers bullpen.

The two sides will meet again on Thursday in Game 4 of the series.

Here are four other things worth knowing about the Astros' Game 3 victory.

1. Astros' lineup comes alive

The Rangers had scored just four runs through the first two games of the ALCS. That after averaging more than five runs per game during both the regular season and the Division Series. On Thursday, they hit like their normal selves.

The Astros plated their first run in the second inning, when Yordan Alvarez scampered across the plate on a wild pitch. Martín Maldonado, whose bat often leaves a lot to be desired, then drove in two with a single. Jose Altuve launched a single home run in the third inning to put the Astros ahead by a 4-0 margin.

Mauricio Dubón made it 5-0 with a single in the fourth inning. Then, in the seventh, the Astros fully broke the game open, as the aforementioned Alvarez delivered a two-run single to make it 7-2. The Astros added one more run in the eighth to give them eight on the night.

Thursday represented the second-most runs the Astros have scored this postseason. They scored nine runs in Game 3 of the ALDS.
Rangers third baseman Josh Jung tried his best, homering twice, but it wasn't enough for Texas to fully close the gap.

2. Starters offer contrasting nights

The big story heading into Game 3 was how Rangers ace Max Scherzer would pitch after missing more than a month with a strained teres major muscle in his right shoulder. The answer: not as good as Scherzer is accustomed to pitching. He finished his night having surrendered five runs on five hits and a walk over the course of four innings pitched and 63 total pitches.

On the other side, Astros righty Cristian Javier offered his second consecutive good playoff start. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning. He then surrendered a two-run home run to Josh Jung to give the Rangers life. Javier's home run shattered what had been one of the longest scoreless streaks to begin a playoff career in MLB history among starting pitchers.

Overall, Javier allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out three batters on 85 pitches. Javier had previously allowed no runs on one hit and five walks in five innings of work versus the Minnesota Twins.

3. What does a 2-1 series lead mean?

To state the obvious: the Astros improved their odds of winning the ALCS with their victory in Game 4. Teams to go up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series have historically won 97.5% of those sets. Conversely, teams holding a 2-1 advantage have won their series 70.3% of the time. The Rangers, then, are still the overwhelming favorites to win the pennant -- that's just common sense given they need to win one fewer game to do it -- but it's not a fait accompli.

4. What's next?

The two sides will meet for Game 4 of the ALCS on Thursday night. First pitch is slated for 8:03 p.m. ET. The Rangers have not announced their starter, but could roll with lefty Andrew Heaney (10-6, 4.15 ERA). The Astros are expected to turn to right-hander José Urquidy (3-3, 5.29 ERA).

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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