HOUSTON — After an emotional back-and-forth affair at Globe Life Field on Friday night, the American League Championship Series headed back to Houston, with the Astros holding a 3-2 lead over the Rangers.
The Astros came into Arlington and won all three games after dropping the first two at home. Including the regular season, Houston has won eight straight games at Globe Life Field and nine of 10 overall. During the eight-game win streak, the Astros have outscored the Rangers 84-41.
Houston’s 5-4 win in Game 5 was capped by a go-ahead three-run homer from Jose Altuve in the top of the ninth inning.
“Everybody was so fired up,” said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. “Obviously, we knew the game wasn’t over because they’ve got a really good team over there, and as you saw, they put two guys on in the ninth. Everyone was just super-excited and happy to score some runs there off a really tough pitcher [José Leclerc]. He’s one of the best pitchers in the world. Just try to stay focused and get three outs.”
The Rangers are one game from elimination, and they remain two wins away from their first World Series appearance since 2011. After opening the postseason with seven straight wins, including two at Minute Maid Park to open the ALCS, they find themselves on the brink of elimination after losing three straight at home.
“We’ve already shown this postseason that we’re not shy of going into Houston and winning,” said Rangers catcher Jonah Heim. “So it’s going to be a hard-fought Game 6, and we’re going to try to make it to a Game 7.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
Today’s game is being televised in the U.S. on FS1.
All series are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives will be available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi
The Rangers need two wins, and they’ll turn to one of their most reliable arms to get them the first one. Eovaldi has earned his nickname “Big Game Nate” with his memorable postseason outings, and he’ll need to pull another one off in Game 6. He allowed three runs over six innings in his Game 2 win against the Astros in Houston, walking one and striking out nine.
Astros: LHP Framber Valdez
Valdez hasn’t had a typically strong season, and both of his postseason outings have been subpar. But he has had some huge games for Houston in his career, and there’s no time like the present to get back on track and deliver a big win. Valdez allowed five runs (four earned) over 2 2/3 innings on seven hits and one walk with six strikeouts in Game 2. He has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in two postseason starts. Valdez is 0-3 with a 9.92 ERA and a 2.14 WHIP in his past four starts, including the regular season. He has allowed 18 earned runs and 20 hits in 16 1/3 innings in that span.
What are the starting lineups?
Rangers: Bruce Bochy chose to stick with rookie sensation Evan Carter in the three hole in Games 4-5, but with lefty Valdez on the mound for the Astros, Robbie Grossman was slotted in for Game 6.
Astros: Michael Brantley is back in the starting lineup in Game 6, with Chas McCormick headed to the bench. Kyle Tucker, who had two hits in Game 5, remained in the six spot.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Rangers: The bullpen should be relatively rested for Game 6 with an off-day Saturday. The Rangers used only three relievers — Leclerc, Aroldis Chapman and Josh Sborz — in Game 5, but Bochy will likely come as close as possible to emptying the tank in a potential clincher for the Astros.
Astros: Baker may have a short leash on Valdez after he struggled in Game 2. If Valdez doesn’t get deep into the game, the long relief options are Hunter Brown, J.P. France and Ronel Blanco. Brown threw three innings in relief in Game 4 and should be able to handle a couple of innings Sunday. All three of Baker’s high-leverage relievers — Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu and Ryan Pressly — pitched in Game 5, though Abreu threw only six pitches before being ejected, and Pressly threw 24 in two innings. It’s hard to imagine Pressly wouldn’t get the ball with a chance to close out the AL pennant.
Rangers: With Max Scherzer and Jon Gray both being activated from the injured list for the ALCS, the Rangers are in relatively good health at this point. Reliever Jonathan Hernández was again left off the roster due to a right lat strain, an injury that Bochy said was sustained during Game 162, when Hernández tossed one perfect inning with two strikeouts in Texas’ 1-0 loss to Seattle.
Astros: Relief pitcher Kendall Graveman is battling right shoulder discomfort and is not on the ALCS roster.
Who’s hot, who’s not?
Rangers: Adolis García has hit safely in nine of 10 postseason games, and his four homers lead all Rangers in the postseason. Nathaniel Lowe has two postseason homers (including a solo shot in the fifth inning of Game 5) and has reached base safely in nine of 10 games.
Marcus Semien was 0-for-5 in Game 5 and is hitting .159 this postseason.
Astros: Jose Altuve’s legendary postseason stature was cemented long before Game 5, but he surely added to it with a three-run homer in the ninth that gave the Astros the lead. It was his 26th postseason homer and third this year. Tucker, who has struggled mightily throughout the postseason, was 2-for-3 with a double in Game 5.
Jeremy Peña was 0-for-3 in Game 5 and is batting .212 this postseason.