In his first season with Texas, veteran manager Bruce Bochy has guided the Rangers into the AL Championship Series.
Yordan Alvarez and the Houston Astros are one win from making it a Lone Star State affair.
Corey Seager and Adolis García homered early, Nathan Eovaldi pitched seven smooth innings in another playoff clincher and the Rangers completed a Division Series sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 7-1 victory Tuesday night in Game 3.
The Rangers, whose loss at Seattle on the last day of the regular season made them a wild-card team instead of the AL West champion, have since won all five of their postseason games. They are going to the ALCS for the first time since 2011.
“I saw a team that was really motivated,” said Bochy, who managed San Francisco to three World Series titles from 2010-14. “The offense, everybody was doing something to contribute.”
In Minneapolis, José Abreu hit a three-run homer in a four-run first inning against Sonny Gray and piled on with a two-run shot in the ninth, powering the Astros to a 9-1 victory that gave them a 2-1 lead over Minnesota in their ALDS.
Alvarez hit his fourth home run in three games and Alex Bregman had a homer and an RBI single for the defending World Series champions, who moved within one win of a seventh consecutive AL Championship Series appearance.
Cristian Javier struck out nine in five scoreless innings for the win.
Game 4 is Wednesday at Target Field, with José Urquidy starting for the Astros against Joe Ryan. A decisive Game 5 would be Friday in Houston.
Arizona can also advance Wednesday as the wild-card Diamondbacks try for a stunning sweep of the 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers when their NL Division Series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3. It will be Arizona's first home game this postseason, after opening 4-0 on the road.
Atlanta plays at Philadelphia in the other NLDS, with that best-of-five series tied at one game apiece.
Unless the NL East champion Braves go with an opener out of the bullpen — which manager Brian Snitker said is an option — it appears either 12-game winner Bryce Elder or 20-year-old rookie AJ Smith-Shawver will get the nod against Aaron Nola.
The Braves are the current betting favorites to win the World Series at +270, followed by the Astros (+310) and Rangers (+330), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
After getting five days off, the top four playoff seeds went a combined 2-6 on their home fields to start the best-of-five division round.
Clearly, the time off did them little good. Which begs the question: Is it time to say goodbye to the bye?
Gunnar Henderson and the Baltimore Orioles picked the wrong week to get swept for the first time this year.
Before their quick playoff exit against Texas, the Orioles went 52 series over the entire 2023 regular season without getting swept — a first for the franchise since it moved to Baltimore in 1954. They became the fourth big league team since 2000 to accomplish that feat.
Baltimore still has a 91-series streak without getting swept in the regular season, going back to before Henderson was called up in the summer of 2022. But the Orioles have lost eight playoff games in a row over the past 10 seasons.
Seager broke Barry Bonds’ Division Series record with his ninth walk against Baltimore, also making postseason history by getting them in just three games.
The Orioles intentionally walked Seager to load the bases in the second inning ahead of Mitch Garver’s two-run double as the Rangers took a 6-0 lead in Game 3.
A one-out walk with the bases empty in the fourth made Seager the first player to draw nine walks over a three-game stretch in the postseason, one more than Bonds in San Francisco’s four-game loss to Florida in the 2003 NL Division Series.
Kershaw could get another start
Clayton Kershaw would start Game 4 for the Dodgers if their series against the Diamondbacks gets that far. Kershaw allowed six runs and managed just one out in the series opener, getting yanked after 35 pitches.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts anticipated Kershaw would start Game 4 on Thursday.
“That’s the best option and I see it as the only option,” Roberts said Sunday.
Should the Phillies win the World Series, save a spot at the end of the Broad Street parade route for Calum Scott.
The British singer with the pop hit about loneliness and heartbreak insists he’s coming to Philly and wearing the jersey the team sent him last season as a thank you for his part in making “Dancing On My Own” a staple of the postseason soundtrack at Citizens Bank Park.
Scott is as amazed as anyone the song has improbably bloomed into a playoff anthem for the Phillies, who won the National League pennant last year before losing to Houston in the World Series.
“They win the World Series, I’m there, man,” Scott said. “I think at that point, you’ll have to hold me back.”
Evan Carter is 6 for 14 (.429) with three doubles, one home run and three RBIs in five playoff games for Texas — all wins. The outfielder has walked six times and has a .619 on-base percentage and .857 slugging percentage.
At 21 years, 40 days old, he became the youngest player to reach base 12 or more times in his first four postseason games. He is the second-youngest to achieve the feat in any four-game span in the postseason behind Freddie Lindstrom, who was 18 years, 319 days old in 1924.
How to watch
TBS is broadcasting the NLDS. Fox and FS1 are carrying the ALDS.
Division Series: Oct. 7-14
League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24
World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4
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