Houston Astros
Houston Astros center fielder Chas McCormick (20) and teammates celebrate their 3-2 win over the Minnesota Twins in the ninth inning of Game 4 of a baseball AL Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Six Headlines, Six Games: Previewing the ALCS: Lone Star Edition

Rangers. Astros. Two teams fighting for state supremacy, the AL pennant and a chance at eternal glory.

After Jordan Montgomery’s stellar outing Sunday night, the Rangers take a 1-0 series lead into game two. Here’s six things to look for in the six (possible) remaining games of this high-stakes rivalry.

The Rangers simply won’t lose

Texas was in danger of missing the playoffs in the last week of the season, but have made the most of their appearance after getting in.

The Rangers are now 6-0 in the postseason, and they’ve dominated most games. Evan Carter and Josh Jung are turning from young prospects to postseason stars right in front of our eyes. They took care of the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round, then swept the No. 1 seed Baltimore Orioles in a quick and painless three games. Red-hot would be an understatement, Texas is approaching white-hot territory (You’d be shocked to discover I’m not a science major).

The Astros’ plate discipline

The Houston Astros finished the season third in the league in hits. Fifth in runs. Seventh in homers. 11th in wal_s.

It’s loaded with clutch Postseason hitters: Altuve, Alvarez, Bregman, Tuc_er, Brantley, the list goes on. Finally, what does this article and the Astros’ lineup have in common? No Ks.  Houston has been one of the best stri_eout teams in the MLB (28th in the league this year), especially the playoffs, over the past seven years.

Rangers’ starting pitching

Texas’ starting rotation just got a huge boost, as Max Scherzer (named game three starter) and Jon Gray were added to the ALCS roster.

Nathan Eovaldi, a postseason wizard, has once again been brilliant for Texas this postseason and will get the ball for game two. Montgomery has been awesome in his postseason starts as well, including a shutout performance Sunday night.

The Astros have been here before. A LOT

Two words: experience matters.

This is Houston’s SEVENTH straight ALCS.  The defending champs are not only loaded with talent, but postseason experience. The whole lineup is clutch in October.

The Rangers bullpen… their one potential weakness?

The name everyone knows in their bullpen is Aroldis Chapman.

The Cuban Missile has notoriously struggled in Houston in the past, and nearly gave up a game-tying bomb Sunday night. Eighth innings will be scary for Texas fans. Josh Sborz, ideally their 7th inning man, finished the regular season with an unimpressive 5.50 ERA. Their closer, Jose LeClerc, has been a stud for them this year. However, he has had some postseason control issues, and you can’t give free passes to these Houston hitters. If the games are close, the latter innings will be nerve-wracking for Texas fans all series.

Check on your New York friends

If you told a Mets fan nine months ago that Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer would be starting in the same championship series, they’d be jumping for joy and searching for tickets.

Instead, they’re sitting on their couch after watching the most expensive team in MLB history crash and burn, finishing 75-87.

As for the Yankees, the Houston Astros are the new big dogs in the AL, if they weren’t already. Seven straight ALCS appearances, two World Series rings and winners of the division six of the last seven years. The Bronx Bombers haven’t won a ring since ’09, finished dead last in their division this year, and have been eliminated by the Astros in the playoffs four times in the past decade (New York hasn’t eliminated Houston once in that time span). Ouch.

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