Cristian Javier shines again as Astros halve ALCS deficit
Posted on: 19 Oct, 2023 at 04:24 AM
Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Astros felt they were in a must-win scenario Wednesday night, and they had the right man on the mound to deal with it.
Right-hander Cristian Javier went 5 2/3 innings in his latest strong postseason outing as Houston posted an 8-5 victory in Arlington, Texas, to cut its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Javier (2-0) gave up two runs, three hits and one walk while striking out three in the Game 3 triumph. He recorded 14 outs before allowing his first hit.
The runs were the first Javier has yielded in four career postseason starts. He has given up just five hits in 22 innings during those outings, including six flawless innings when the Astros turned in a combined no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4 of the 2022 World Series.
Javier said he felt good from the outset of the Wednesday contest.
"I was very happy with everything that the pitches were doing," Javier said. "They were doing exactly what I wanted them to do. I was able to control the strike zone, so I was very happy about that."
Houston catcher Martin Maldonado wasn't the least bit surprised with Javier's performance.
"His fastball was unbelievable the first couple innings," Maldonado said. "The slider wasn't there until the third inning. ... He has been amazing for us in the playoffs."
Maldonado and Yordan Alvarez each hit a two-run single and Jose Altuve smacked his 25th career postseason homer for the Astros. Mauricio Dubon had three hits for Houston.
Josh Jung hit a pair of two-run homers for the Rangers, who lost for the first time in eight games this postseason.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Arlington.
Rangers starter Max Scherzer (0-1) allowed five runs and five hits in four innings in his first outing since Sept. 12. Scherzer, who had been sidelined due to a teres major muscle strain in his right (pitching) shoulder, struck out four and walked one.
"He had his normal velocity, but he didn't have his good slider tonight," Texas manager Bruce Bochy said of Scherzer. "He left a couple up. He's going to be a little rusty. It's been a month since he's been out there."
The result continued a season-long pattern. The Astros are now 7-1 at Globe Life Field, where they have averaged 8.9 runs per game. They have scored 59 runs over the last five games at the ballpark.
"I don't really have an answer for that right now," Altuve said of the success in Arlington. "But what I can tell you: It's a big win for us."
Houston also has won 17 of its past 20 road games, including all three this postseason.
Astros closer Ryan Pressly worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his third save of this postseason and 14th of his career.
Houston took its first lead of the series with a three-run second inning.
The Astros loaded the bases with two outs before Scherzer bounced a slider for a wild pitch and Alvarez scored from third. On the next pitch, Maldonado ripped a single to left to score two more.
In the third, Altuve recorded his first hit of the series, a leadoff homer to left-center to make it 4-0.
Houston added another run off Scherzer in the fourth when Jose Abreu doubled and scored on Dubon's single to center.
Nathaniel Lowe singled with two outs in the fifth for the Rangers' first hit off Javier. Jung followed with a blast to right center to cut Texas' deficit to 5-2.
The Astros added on in the seventh when Alvarez hit a two-run single against Will Smith.
Lowe and Jung were at it again in the seventh. Lowe singled with two outs off Hector Neris, and Jung followed with a two-run shot to center to pull the Rangers within 7-4. It was Jung's third career postseason homer.
Jeremy Pena hit an RBI single in the eighth for Houston. Adolis Garcia answered with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the inning for Texas.
--Field Level Media