Verlander vs Montgomery; ALCS tied 2-all; D-backs Look to Even NLCS
It's been straight A's for the Houston Astros ever since they hit the road in the AL Championship Series.
Meanwhile, rookie Brandon Pfaadt and the Arizona Diamondbacks passed a huge test against Philadelphia in the NLCS.
José Abreu hit a three-run homer right after Yordan Alvarez’s go-ahead sacrifice fly, and the Astros pulled even in the ALCS with a 10-3 victory at Texas in Game 4 on Thursday night.
Jose Altuve had three hits in his 100th career postseason game and scored three runs for a record sixth time. Alvarez drove in three, giving him 13 RBIs already this postseason, and Chas McCormick added a two-run homer for Houston, which led 3-0 only four batters into the game.
Corey Seager and Adolis García homered for the streaky Rangers, who have dropped two games in a row at home after starting this postseason with seven consecutive wins — six on the road.
Game 5 is Friday afternoon at Globe Life Field, where the defending World Series champion Astros are 8-1 this season. Three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander pitches for Houston against Jordan Montgomery in a rematch of trade-deadline acquisitions. Montgomery beat Verlander 2-0 in Game 1.
“We saw the other night I was a little erratic early on, and started to get better as the game went on,” Verlander said. “I’m hopeful that that will be something I can piggyback off of since I didn’t have a long rest.”
The home team has yet to lead in this ALCS, which switches back to Houston for Game 6 on Sunday night.
In Phoenix, Ketel Marte capped a three-hit afternoon with a game-winning single in the ninth and Pfaadt pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Arizona rallied past the Phillies 2-1 to close to 2-1 in the NL Championship Series.
On the verge of falling behind 3-0 in the best-of-seven playoff, the Diamondbacks tied the score on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s RBI double in the seventh — ending a 17-inning scoreless drought.
Defending NL champion Philadelphia had opened the playoffs 7-1 and outscored the Diamondbacks 15-3 over two games at Citizens Bank Park, hitting six homers.
Pfaadt struck out nine and combined with Andrew Saalfrank, Ryan Thompson, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald on a three-hitter.
Game 4 is Friday evening at Chase Field. The Phillies start left-hander Cristopher Sánchez, who hasn’t pitched in the postseason. The Diamondbacks counter with Joe Mantiply (2-0, 9.00 ERA), normally a reliever.
The Phillies are the current betting favorites to win the World Series at +140, followed by the Astros (+210), Rangers (+250) and Diamondbacks (+1000), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
The Astros are 40-45 at home this year, losing three of four in the AL playoffs. But they have won 18 of their last 21 road games, including all four in the postseason.
“It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen because usually you want to be .500 on the road and way over .500 at home,” manager Dusty Baker said. “I asked the team in spring training to be the best road team. Maybe I should have asked them to be the best road and home team. They usually give me what I ask for.”
Texas and Houston are in the seventh best-of-seven series in which the road team has won the first four games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The prior time it occurred was in 2019, when Washington defeated Houston in a seven-game World Series in which only road teams won.
The only other League Championship Series in which the visiting team won the first four games was the 1993 ALCS, which opened at the Chicago White Sox. After the visiting team won the first four games, Toronto won Game 5 at home and Game 6 at Comiskey Park.
OLD BUT NOT JUST OLD-SCHOOL
Baker and Texas' Bruce Bochy are the two oldest managers in the majors and are squaring off in the ALCS.
Those around the 74-year-old Baker and 68-year-old Bochy say the key to their success isn’t just experience and old-school grit, but also their willingness to adapt in baseball’s analytics age.
Houston owner Jim Crane wasn’t turned off by the fact Baker was 71 when he interviewed to manage the team after A.J. Hinch was fired in the wake of the team’s sign-stealing scandal in 2020. In fact, he believed his reputation and decades in the game were just what the Astros needed to help repair their tattered reputation.
“His experience and the experience of dealing with pressure and players and a lot of different situations — that was very appealing,” Crane said. “He’s a smart guy. Once you visited with him a couple of times, you realized how bright he was, how well he knew the game. And he embraces the analytics, but he also goes old-school. So you’ve got a good blend.”
Rangers GM Chris Young said people asked him about hiring an “old-school manager” when he brought Bochy to Texas this offseason. He pushed back on the assertion that Bochy was old-school simply because he was old.
“I feel the exact opposite,” he said. “I think that if you’re stuck in your ways, you don’t last. And these old managers who have lasted last because they evolve and they’re open-minded and they grow. I think that’s an important attribute to recognize with Boch. He’s been wonderful. I absolutely love working with him."
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.”
HOW TO WATCH
TBS is broadcasting the NLCS. Fox and FS1 are carrying the ALCS.
League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24
World Series: Oct. 27-Nov. 4