The Houston Astros silenced their home crowd in Minneapolis earlier Tuesday. With four runs in the first inning and a total of four home runs, things went well for the visitors, but Twins starter Sonny Gray had a rough day in the end, winning 9-1. Now, the Astros will look to punch their ticket to their seventh straight ALCS with a win in Game 4 on Wednesday, while the Twins will try to avoid elimination and send the series to a fifth game.
The Texas Rangers then gave their home crowd plenty to cheer as they defeated the Baltimore Orioles 7-1 to complete the ALDS sweep and send Texas to the ALCS. This is the first time the Rangers have played in the ALCS since 2011 and the first time since May 2022 that the Orioles have been swept.
No. 5 Texas Rangers vs. No. 1 Baltimore Orioles, Game 3: Rangers 7, Orioles 1 (Texas won 3-0)
The Orioles, the American League’s winningest team this season and champions of baseball’s toughest division, entered Game 3 hoping for a comeback. It took the Rangers about two innings to completely eliminate that.
The Rangers, backed by another strong performance from the pitching staff, swept Baltimore in three runs in the early innings. Corey Seager put Texas on the board with a homer in the first inning, and the real fun came with five runs in the second inning off Adolis García ) got a hit without a doubt.
From that point on, the Rangers sailed easily until the top of the eighth inning, when the Orioles loaded the bases with two outs, forcing the Texans to force Jose Leclerc. Aaron Hicks, owner of half of Baltimore’s runner-up hits of the series, completed the count but then grounded first, effectively ending the game.
Oddly enough, the Rangers’ biggest hit in the second inning may have been an out. First baseman Nathaniel Lowe led off the inning against Orioles starter Dean Kremer and lined out in left field, but only played 15 pitches after.
Kramer threw 53 pitches in his first start, more than a quarter of which came in at-bats. When Josh Jung singles on the next pitch, fatigue may set in. After Leody Taveras struck out, the next four Rangers reached base, scoring five runs and knocking out Kremer.
Lowe later did his own damage, hitting a solo homer in the sixth inning shortly after Gunnar Henderson’s RBI single that finally put Baltimore on the board.
The Rangers gave Nathan Eovaldi $34 million last offseason in part because of his postseason success, and he entered Tuesday with a career 2.90 ERA in 2018 with Boston. The Red Sox win the World Series. He proved it all on the mound in Game 3.
The veteran right-hander was dominant all night against Baltimore, going seven innings and allowing one earned run, five hits and seven strikeouts. He did not allow an extra-base hit.
In a postseason where so many contenders appear to be lacking reliable starting pitching, the Rangers will likely enter with a relatively strong quartet of Eovaldi, Max Scherzer, Jordan Montgomery and Jon Gray American League CS. Scherzer and Gray both missed the series but are reportedly expected to return for the next round.
Just like that, the Orioles’ 101-win season ended without a postseason victory, and the Rangers reached the American League Championship Series. They’ll have four days off before meeting the winner of Sunday’s Game 1 against the Twins-Astros.
No. 3 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 2 Houston Astros, Game 3: Astros 9, Twins 1 (Houston leads 2-1)
The Astros’ bats allowed four runs in the first inning, then starter Christian Harwell went to work from there, helping Houston beat the Minnesota Twins 9-1 in Game 3 of the ALDS. With the win, the Astros control the best-of-five series 2-1 and have a chance to wrap things up in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Kyle Tucker started the scoring in the first with an RBI single off Gray. José Abreu then opened the game with a three-run home run, putting the Twins in trouble before they had a chance to bat.
They didn’t dig it out. The Astros chased Gray after scoring four runs in four innings, and the Twins squandered several scoring chances on a rough day.
The Astros took the lead again in the fifth on Alex Bregman’s solo homer and again in the sixth on Bregman’s RBI single. They did keep things out of reach, with three more home runs in the ninth inning from Abreu and Yordan Alvarez.
The Twins got their only win of the day when Willi Castro singled in the sixth inning to drive in Carlos Correa.
The Twins could look back on several missed opportunities Tuesday, but none more frustrating than the fifth inning. Trailing 5-0, the Twins struck out with a home run after Javier gave up four pitches to Castro, Edward Julian and Jorge Planco. They ended the inning scoreless.
Max Kepler struck out with a high-arcing knuckleball in the second, setting up more heroic chances for wild-card hero Royce Lewis. The breakout rookie third baseman set a Twins record with four grand slams in the regular season, then added a second in the postseason in Minnesota’s first game of a wild-card win over the Toronto Blue Jays. hit two home runs in his first two games.
Even so, Javier had the best result in this game. The Astros starter struck out Lewis on four pitches, including on a slider three-pointer away from home plate.
At this point, the Twins had stranded seven players in five innings. They ended the game with nine men stranded.
There were plenty of deserving candidates on the day, with Abreu, Bregman and Alvarez all hitting at least one home run while the Astros scored nine runs. But Javier earned the honor for his gutsy performance on the mound, striking out nine in five scoreless innings.
Javier struggled a bit with control, walked five and struck out another batter. But time and time again he gets out of trouble. The Twins had two outs in the first inning and then two outs in the third and were scoreless both times. That was before a dramatic fifth-inning run.
Game 4 begins Wednesday at 2:07 p.m. ET in Minnesota. The Twins will put the ball in Joe Ryan’s hands to try to extend the series to a fifth game, while the Astros, whose starters have yet to be announced, will look to earn a spot in the American League Championship Series.