After scoring 27 runs in the previous two games, the Astros overcame a hitting slump tonight to eke out a meager 12-3 win over the Texas Rangers.
Jose Altuve started the disappointing offensive performance, leading off with a strike out, which put him in the middle of an abysmal 0-3 slump with no homers. However, a great lineup picks up the slackers, and in the next at bat Jeremy Pena doubled off Rangers starter Max Scherzer, followed by a Yordan Alvarez dinger that travelled a mere 424 feet.
Marcus Semien narrowed the Astros lead with a solo shot of his own against Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first. But Michael Brantley said, “step back,” answering Semien with a homer of his own, ignoring the fact that none of the batters ahead of him managed to get on base. Rangers superstar Adolis Garcia left the game on the play, injuring his knee attempting to rob Brantley of his homer.
Welcome to the Home Run Party, Uncle Mike! pic.twitter.com/Pj0QB2NwlT— Houston Astros (@astros) September 7, 2023
The Astros tore the game wide open in the fourth inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases for the other Jose, Abreu, who lifted a grand slam to give the Astros the 7-1 lead.
It’s lucky for Abreu that Scherzer walked two before he came up.
The Astros managed to plate another run in the fifth beginning with a Tucker walk, an Abreu double sending Tucker to third, and a choke Brantley fly out that did at least sacrifice another run in.
Jose Abreu poked another just-barely home run, scoring three in the ninth on a ball that was a foot fair and barely had enough to get over the 324 sign. Then pinch hitter Chas McCormick closed his eyes on a low change up and luckily golfed the fat gopher ball a foot over the fence in left center.
The Astros have hit another home run, and water is wet. pic.twitter.com/eMxLaru9RT— Houston Astros (@astros) September 7, 2023
Although the Astros lucked into 12 runs tonight, only Marcus Semien seemed wiling and able to answer for the Rangers. He did his best Altuve imitation tonight, going 4-4 with two homers and all three Rangers RBI.
In all seriousness, it was well understood before this series that if either team could sweep the other, it would probably deal a death blow to that team’s playoff chances.
The Astros not only swept the Rangers, but humiliated them. Let us hear no more about a changing of the guard from the upstarts in Arlington. The Astros are still the daddy. In fact, the Rangers are just the Astros’ abused step-child.
The Astros scored 39 runs in this three game series. They had 50 hits and 16 home runs. There was a 29 run run-differential. The 16 home runs is the most by any Astros team in a three game span. The is the first time a team has had 50 hits and 16 home runs in a three game series in the entire history of MLB.
In this series there wasn't a weak spot in the lineup. Not Maldonado, not Abreu, who had two homers and seven RBI today. Somehow, with all these runs, the team’s RBI leader, Kyle Tucker wasn’t needed. He didn’t have an RBI all series, and he’s stuck at 99 for the season.
Is Jose Abreu becoming the slugging Abreu we thought we were getting when he signed with the Astros this winter? If so, the timing couldn’t be better. Since August 28th, Abreu is hitting wRC+ of 117 (not including his three hits tonight) with four homers (including tonight).
The outcome of the classic pitching matchup was gratifying as well. Both the Astros and Rangers gave up a king’s ransom for Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, respectively. In a game that truly was “must win” for the Rangers, Scherzer gave up seven runs in three innings. Meanwhile Verlander was prime, allowing only two runs (one earned), in seven innings, allowing only four hits, one walk, while striking out six.
This is crazy. After a season of relative disappointments (by recent Astros standards), might it be, could it be, that the Astros are the team of destiny for a World Series repeat? What a great time to play perhaps the best ball in the team’s entire history.
The Astros are off tomorrow. They face the reeling Padres Friday.