Astros beat Twins, will face Rangers in 7th consecutive ALCS appearance

Astros beat Twins, will face Rangers in 7th consecutive ALCS appearance

Let the battle of Texas begin.

The Houston Astros set up an American League Championship Series battle against their in-state rival Texas Rangers with a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field, winning their ALDS over Minnesota three games to one.

It’s the Astros’ seventh consecutive LCS appearance, the second-longest streak since MLB expanded the playoffs in 1969. Only the Atlanta Braves, who made eight straight NLCS appearances from 1991-99, own a longer streak.

Game 1 of Astros-Rangers will be in Houston on Sunday.

Astros first baseman José Abreu recorded the series-winning hit, a two-run homer off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar in the fourth inning. Minnesota cut the deficit in half on Edouard Julien‘s sixth-inning solo shot, but couldn’t muster any more offense. Starter Jose Urquidy dazzled over his 5 2/3 innings, striking out six while allowing only two runs on three hits. Three Astros relievers followed by allowing just one total baserunner over the final 3 1/3 frames.

Closer Ryan Pressly clinched the series by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth. He froze Max Kepler for the final out, leaving former Astros star Carlos Correa in the on-deck circle as the winning run.

WE’RE HEADED TO OUR SEVENTH STRAIGHT ALCS. pic.twitter.com/MkU4sH4srE

— Houston Astros (@astros) October 12, 2023

Yordan Alvarez failed to homer for the first time in the series, but he still went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the victory. The 26-year-old slugger finished the series with a .438/.471/1.313 slash line, along with four home runs and six RBIs. His slugging percentage ended up as the fourth highest for a hitter with at least 15 plate appearances in a single series.

highest SLG in a postseason series, min 15 PA:

1928 WS Lou Gehrig: 1.727
1996 ALDS Juan Gonzalez: 1.375
1928 WS Babe Ruth: 1.375
2023 ALDS Yordan Alvarez: 1.313

— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 12, 2023

Abreu’s game-winning blast capped a remarkable series for the onetime AL MVP after a disappointing debut campaign in Houston. The 36-year-old, who saw his OPS drop to a career-worst .679 during the regular season, rebounded to slash .313/.353/.875 with three homers and eight RBIs during the ALDS.

The Astros will now try and get by a Texas club that’s riding high after sweeping their first two playoff series but appeared overmatched by Houston during the regular season. Dusty Baker’s club went 9-4 against the Rangers in 2023 and outscored them 39-10 during a three-game series at Globe Life Field in early September.

Adding to the intrigue in this ALCS is the fact that these division rivals don’t like each other all that much. The Astros and Rangers cleared benches after an Adolis García grand slam during a July meeting in Houston, leading to a pair of ejections.

“It’s going to be rowdy, but I think the crowd is going to be 50-50 when we’re up there,” Pressly, a Dallas native, told Chandler Rome of The Athletic. “I’m excited to go up there back home and play some baseball up there.”

It’s also a matchup of two future Hall of Fame managers in Houston’s Baker and Texas’ Bruce Bochy, who have over 4,000 combined regular-season wins between them. The veteran skippers last met in the playoffs during the 2012 NLDS, when Bochy’s San Francisco Giants beat Baker’s Cincinnati Reds.

“They know us, and we know them. And I know Bruce, and he knows me,” Baker told Fox Sports’ Tom Verducci postgame.

He added, “It’s gonna be a heck of a series.”

Houston is trying to reach the World Series for a third straight year and the fifth time in seven seasons. The Astros won it all in 2017 and 2022.

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