Rangers headed to World Series, rout Astros in ALCS Game 7

Oct 23, 2023, 9:11 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm

Texas Rangers' Adolis Garcia celebrates after scoring during the first inning of Game 6 of the base...

Texas Rangers' Adolis Garcia celebrates after scoring during the first inning of Game 6 of the baseball AL Championship Series against the Houston Astros Monday, Oct. 23, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

HOUSTON (AP) — Adolis García homered twice and drove in five runs as the Texas Rangers reached their first World Series in 12 years with an 11-4 blowout of the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series on Monday night.

Corey Seager got things started for the road-happy Rangers with a long home run in the first inning. Nathaniel Lowe also went deep to give Texas — one of six major league teams without a World Series title — its first berth in the Fall Classic since consecutive trips in 2010 and 2011.

García homered for the fourth straight game and set a record for RBIs in a postseason series with 15. He had four hits, scored three times and was the obvious choice for ALCS MVP.

“He’s a bad man, isn’t he?” Seager said. “It was really fun to watch.”

After winning their Lone Star State showdown with Houston, the wild-card Rangers open the World Series at home Friday night against Arizona or Philadelphia, who play the decisive Game 7 of their NLCS on Tuesday night.

Bruce Bochy, who came out of retirement this season to manage the Rangers, became the first skipper to win a League Championship Series with three different teams, after previously leading San Diego and San Francisco to NL pennants.

“I didn’t know if I’d get back in it. And here I am. I know how blessed I am,” Bochy said. “We’ve had our streaks. We’ve had our injuries. They keep getting up. To come in here and beat such a great team like Houston — and congrats on their year. But it’s great to be wearing the horns in Texas.”

Meanwhile, the defending World Series champion Astros were finally dethroned.

Fittingly, it came at home, where they went 40-47 this year and 0-4 in this series. They won all three games at Texas and came home a win shy of their third straight pennant, but Houston’s pitching staff got pounded for 20 runs in the final two games.

No club has won consecutive World Series since the New York Yankees took three straight from 1998-2000.

“I don’t like tipping my cap to anybody,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “But when someone beats the hell out of you, what are you going to do?”

The Rangers improved to 8-0 on the road in the playoffs, joining the 1996 Yankees as the only teams to win their first eight games away from home in one postseason.

“This team right here, we are family, and they push me every day to play hard,” García said.

Texas starter Max Scherzer, acquired from the Mets in July, wasn’t great in this one, allowing four hits and two runs with two walks in 2 2/3 innings. But the Rangers took advantage of an early flop by Cristian Javier.

The Rangers jumped on Javier immediately and tagged him for three runs, highlighted by Seager’s second-deck shot, before he was lifted with just one out in the first. It was the first time Javier had lost a playoff start after entering the game 4-0 with a 0.82 ERA in four career postseason starts.

Seager, in his second season with Texas after signing a 10-year, $325 million contract, had three hits after starting the series 5 for 26.

García slugged his sixth home run this postseason to make it 4-1 in the third before the Astros cut it to two on a solo homer by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the inning.

Texas broke things open with a four-run fourth that featured a two-run double by rookie Evan Carter and a two-run single by García.

After hitting a grand slam to punctuate a 9-2 win in Game 6, García led the charge Monday. He had 15 RBIs in this series to break the record set by Nelson Cruz with 13 for Texas in the 2011 ALCS.

The slugger was booed throughout the game for a second straight night after being at the center of a bench-clearing scuffle in Game 5 after being hit by a pitch from Astros reliever Bryan Abreu.

García seemed to delight in playing the road villain. When he opened the third inning with his shot to right field, he watched as the ball sailed over the fence before slowly taking a few steps toward first base. He then dropped his bat, turned around and skipped backward for a few feet while smiling broadly at his cheering dugout before trotting around the bases.

The Cuban outfielder added a solo shot in the eighth to give him seven homers and 20 RBIs this postseason, passing Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez (six) for the most home runs in the playoffs this year.

García’s home run streak is tied for fourth-longest in postseason history.

The road team won every game in this series, marking just the second time in baseball history the home team dropped each game in a best-of-seven series. The Astros were also on the wrong end of the other one, dropping four home games in a loss to the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series, a series in which Scherzer also pitched Game 7 in Houston.

Texas and Houston had identical regular-season records (90-72), with the AL West title going to the Astros on a head-to-head tiebreaker. Tied once again entering this game, the Rangers came out on top when it mattered most.

Texas’ win guarantees a third all-wild card World Series, the first since Bochy’s Giants beat Kansas City in 2014.

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