Astros play by play: Justin Verlander allows Rangers’ home runs twice, erasing multiple Houston leads in ALCS Game 5


ARLINGTON, Texas (KTRK) — The Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers are in the homestretch of Game 5, with the team up north holding the two-run lead.

With the series tied 2-2, the winner of the final Arlington game in the American League Championship Series will be within a victory of the 2023 World Series.

Bregman breaks through

Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman (2) celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run against the Texas Rangers on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.

AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez

The Astros scored their first run against shut-down Rangers ace pitcher, Jordan Montgomery, in the first inning of Game 5. Alex Bregman took a 92 mph sinker thrown down the middle and blasted it 416 feet to left center field.

Bregman’s bomb came after Jose Altuve and Mauricio Dubon opened with groundouts on just the first two pitches Montgomery threw. Yordan Alvarez cracked a single in the at-bat after Bregman, but Montgomery retired the side with a third groundout.

Astros held the 1-0 advantage early.

JV gives up tying homer

Houston’s Game 5 starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, was perfect through the first two innings before allowing his first walk to Mitch Garver and first hit to Jonah Heim in the third inning. JV, though, induced an infield popout and a flyout to end the threat.

The next run wouldn’t be scored until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Verlander, cruising to this point, got rocked for a 380-foot home run by Nathaniel Lowe, tying the game, 1-1.

Astros back on the attack, break tie

An inning later in the sixth, Houston got back the lead while chasing Montgomery out of the game.

After Bregman walked and Alvarez hit a single to advance the runner to third, Jose Abreu came up with an RBI single for the go-ahead score.

Houston led, 2-1, before Montgomery allowed Kyle Tucker to walk and load the bases. But the Astros wouldn’t convert, after Texas relief pitcher Josh Sborz induced a Chas McCormick flyout to right and a Jeremy Pena groundout on a diving slide catch by second baseman Marcus Semien.

Rangers unload on JV for three runs

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) hands the ball to manager Dusty Baker Jr. (12) as he is pulled against the Texas Rangers, Oct. 20, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Houston’s mid-game lead wouldn’t last. In the bottom half of the sixth, Verlander allowed a Corey Seager double and an Evan Carter single, setting up Adolis Garcia to crush a three-run, go-head homer.

Texas pulled ahead, 4-2, as Verlander exited after five and two-thirds innings. Hector Neris collected the final out of the inning in relief.

Garcia’s homer gave the home team its first lead during this ALCS.

Garcia drilled and benches clear

The Astros, who have been portrayed during the ALCS as cool customers in the face of pressure, could only muster two baserunners in the two innings following the Garcia home run.

In the eighth inning, tempers would boil over during the Rangers’ turn at the plate. With Garcia at bat and Bryan Abreu pitching, the batter took a fastball to the shoulder and immediately confronted catcher Martin Maldonado, leading to both benches and bullpens clearing.

The game broadcast theorized that if the throw was intentional, it may have been in response to Garcia’s slow walk to first base and stomp on home plate during his home run.

Abreu was ejected, which sent manager Dusty Baker into a tantrum. Baker was also tossed.

Game 6 starting pitchers set

Well before the Game 5 first pitch was thrown, Houston determined that Framber Valdez will get the ball as the Game 6 starting pitcher when the ALCS returns to Minute Maid Park on Sunday night.

The lefty Valdez has allowed 10 runs in seven innings pitched in the two games he’s started this postseason, and he’ll likely face Rangers starter and Alvin native Nathan Eovaldi.

2023 ALCS schedule and results: Series tied 2-2

Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, left, celebrates after hitting a home run as Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim kneels behind home plate on Oct. 18, 2023, in Arlington, Texas.

AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vasquez

  • Game 1: Rangers 2, Astros 0
  • Game 2: Rangers 5, Astros 4
  • Game 3: Astros 8, Rangers 4
  • Game 4: Astros 10, Rangers 3
  • Game 5: Astros at Rangers, IN PROGRESS
  • Game 6: Rangers at Astros, Sunday, 7:03 p.m.
  • Game 7: Rangers at Astros, Monday, Oct. 23, 7:03 p.m.*

* – if necessary

All times are Central Time.

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