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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Astros show life, spoil Max Scherzer’s return in Rangers’ ALCS Game 3 loss

Texas starter Max Scherzer, left, struggled in his first appearance in more than a month as he took the loss at ALCS Game 3 against Houston on Wednesday in Arlington, Texas.  (Tribune News Service)
By Evan Grant Dallas Morning News

ARLINGTON, Texas – Five fast and furious thoughts from Game 3 of the AL Championship Series in which the Houston Astros came back to life with a 8-5 win in the return of Max Scherzer in front of 42,368, the biggest crowd in Globe Life Field’s history:

Game 4 will be at 5:03 p.m. Thursday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. It is a complete sellout. Game 5 will now be played. It will start at 2 p.m. Friday in Arlington.

What it means: The Astros have life. By getting to Scherzer, the Astros broke the Rangers’ seven-game postseason winning streak. Win one of the next two games and they can guarantee themselves a chance to take the series back to Houston.

Although, maybe they’d just as soon play the rest of the series in Arlington.

Houston had a 51-30 road record this season, the best in the majors. And they’ve absolutely humbled the Rangers in Arlington. Houston has won five straight in Arlington and seven of eight games there this season.

In that stretch, they’ve outscored the Rangers 71-37.

Max effort: The Rangers waited 37 days for this? Look, the line on Scherzer was not good – five runs in four innings – but, honestly, it was probably skewed by two back-to-back poor pitches in the second inning.

Scherzer had loaded the bases in the inning with one out, but got Jeremy Peña to pop out to bring up No. 9 hitter Martín Maldonado. After getting ahead of Maldonado with a fastball, Scherzer threw a slider in the dirt that squirted away from Jonah Heim, allowing the first run to score. The next pitch was a fastball, middle up, that Maldonado pulled through the left side. Two more runs scored on it.

If Scherzer executes there, he perhaps gets a chance to start the fifth inning.

Getting even five innings out of Scherzer, who was probably not going to go more than 75 pitches, would have required midseason efficiency.

Hard to have that after a 37-day layoff. The Rangers hope of winning this game was for Scherzer to give them about four innings and for the offense to get Cristian Javier. The offense did not get to Javier.

No offense: The Rangers went into the game wanting to make sure they didn’t chase Javier’s slider. Good news: They didn’t. He got just one swing and miss on the pitch. Bad news: Javier simply beat the Rangers with a 93 mph fastball over and over.

He threw his four-seamer 64% of the time and didn’t allow a hit until Nathaniel Lowe took one the opposite way with two outs in the fifth inning. Josh Jung followed by getting hold of a fat slider and driving it out to right field. Jung accounted for most of the Rangers’ offense. He also homered off Hector Neris in the seventh.

No way: Jose Altuve has made himself quite at home at Globe Life Field lately, regardless of how lustfully fans boo him. In the Astros’ sweep in September, Altuve hit five homers in 15 at-bats. On Wednesday, he homered in his second at-bat against Scherzer. Altuve has eight homers in Arlington this season in just 37 at-bats in 2023. It’s almost like he knows what’s coming.

Taveras catch: Leody Taveras was not among the five Rangers named Gold Glove finalists on Wednesday. But he can still steal a homer. In the sixth inning, just after the Rangers had cut the margin to 5-2 on a Jung homer, Taveras went above the wall in center to steal a homer from Yordan Alvarez. Taveras has shown a lot of subdued, confident swagger lately. He dropped his head and the bat casually after a Game 1 homer. After the catch, which got the crowd going a bit, he was pretty nonchalant as if he had it the whole way.