We’ve reached the first elimination game of this year’s ALCS, as the Texas Rangers find themselves with their backs against the wall staring at a 3-2 series deficit against the Houston Astros. Let’s take a look at the odds for this pivotal matchup, where my prediction is for over 8.5 runs.
Rangers Vs. Astros Prediction
We all thought that the script might finally be flipping on the Houston Astros after the Rangers came into Houston to start the series and took each of the first two games, even defeating legendary ace Justin Verlander in the process. The Rangers were heading back to Arlington having flipped home field advantage, with the chance to at the very least head back to Houston with two chances to win a single game and return to the World Series for the first time in over a decade.
Instead, they didn’t win a single one of the three games played in their house, and are limping back into Houston staring at elimination if they don’t once again win both games in Minute Maid Park. It has happened before- the 2019 World Series, which featured none other than these Astros as the higher seed- didn’t include a single home win, but it’s definitely not a position in which the Rangers were hoping to find themselves.
As easy as it is to berate the Rangers for their failures, we have to give credit to the Astros, who have time and time again overcome adversity and kept a steady hand in the biggest moments. Now, they’ll have two chances to win at home and advance to their third consecutive World Series, potentially setting up a rematch with the Philadelphia Phillies, who are also leading their series 3-2; this would be the first repeat Fall Classic since the Yankees took down the Dodgers in both 1977 and ‘78.
Of course, the home teams are still winless in this first-ever one-state Championship Series, but that won’t deter Houston. Nor will the outcome of game two, which featured this exact same starting pitching matchup; in that one, neither pitcher looked like a true ace, but Texas’s Nathan Eovaldi definitely got the job done satisfactorily, while Framber Valdez couldn’t finish the third inning. The Astros starter was knocked out after allowing five runs, four of which were earned, in just 2.2 innings of work, while Eovaldi was fine, allowing three runs in six innings of work. That gap in performances defined the ballgame, which Texas won 5-4.
That game came on the heels of a fascinating 2-0 win for the Rangers, in which they did just enough at the plate against Verlander to support a pitching staff that completely blanked the potent Houston lineup. Since then, every game has been much more of an offensive clash, as the number of 8.5 has been cleared in each installment of this series other than the first. With two starters who didn’t seem quite settled in their last outings against these same lineups, let’s bet on the over to hit one more time, regardless of who comes out on top.
Rangers Vs. Astros Prediction: Over 8.5 Runs
Rangers Vs. Astros Odds
The Astros are -125 favorites on the moneyline, or +155 to cover a spread of -1.5. On the other side of either of those lines, the Rangers are +105 and -190, respectively. The run total is set at a pretty standard 8.5, with -110 odds on either side.
Rangers Vs. Astros Key Matchups
After both pitchers gave up some runs in their last head to head matchup in game two, let’s see how they could surrender some again, or have a shutdown performance.
Framber Valdez Vs. Rangers Contact Hitters
In his disastrous game two start, Valdez didn’t really get crushed by home runs and walks, as he only allowed one of each, and the long ball was just a solo shot. Instead, he was worn down by good old fashioned base hits, of which he allowed seven, a pretty high number compared to the eight outs he was able to record.
In game two, the Rangers hit Valdez right from the beginning, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, Adolis García and Mitch Garver all racked up singles as four of the first five batters in the lineup. The third hitter, Robbie Grossman, also reached base by way of a fielding error, all of which amounted to a four-run first inning for Texas. Semien also registered a base knock in his second at bat against Valdez, so he could be a tough out for the Houston starter.
Nathan Eovaldi vs. Astros Power Bats
Eovaldi didn’t give up alarming amounts of home runs in the regular season, and none through his first two starts of the postseason, but he did surrender two in game two against Houston. In fact, if we dig back a bit to early September, he also gave up two homers in his most recent regular season meeting with the Astros, that time in just 1.1 innings of work, so it appears that he may have a kryptonite.
In game two, Eovaldi gave up a home run to Yordan Álvarez, which doesn’t exactly make him special; Álvarez has already hit six this postseason in just nine games, after missing almost 50 games but still going yard 31 times this regular season. Alex Bregman also smacked one in game two against Eovaldi, he had more of an average power year throughout the regular season, but also has three this postseason. In that regular season game back in September, Eovaldi surrendered two homers, both of which were to José Altuve, who has gone yard three times in these playoffs and always seems to step up in the big moments.
Rangers Vs. Astros Starting Lineups
Rangers Starting Lineup
2B Marcus Semien R
SS Corey Seager L
DH Mitch Garver R
RF Adolis Garcia R
LF Evan Carter L
C Jonah Heim S
1B Nate Lowe L
3B Josh Jung R
CF Leody Taveras S
Astros Starting Lineup
2B Jose Altuve R
3B Alex Bregman R
DH Yordan Álvarez L
RF Kyle Tucker L
1B Jose Abreu R
LF Michael Brantley L
LF Chas McCormick R
SS Jeremy Pena R
C Martin Maldonado R