In the movie the Dark Knight the movie ends with Batman repeating what Harvey Dent told him when he said that you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. For Texas Ranger fans the saying would be if you are a Texas Ranger fan you will never see them experience greatness, but will certainly live long enough to experience the heartbreak that they foist on their fans. It is a never ending cycle that saw another chapter be added in game five. Texas lost this game 5-4, but it was one of those games that they absolutely should have won. It had a lot of things that can be discussed, but I just want to talk about how this one unfolded and how in the world will Texas respond to this.
A history of heartbreak
This Texas Rangers franchise for the most part has known of nothing by October heartbreak. Juan Gonzalez hits five home runs in the 1996 ALDS and the bullpen blows three straight late to give the Yankees the series win. 1999 Texas Rangers set a franchise record for wins and are swept in the ALDS by the Yankees. 2010 Texas Rangers finally make it to a World Series and Cliff Lee is hit hard in game 1 by the San Francisco Giants in a series Texas loses in five. The 2011 World Series and that is all I am going to say. 2015 Elvis Andrus drops 3 balls in the eighth inning eventually setting up Jose Bautista's bat flip that broke the internet.
The players do not carry this history with them thankfully. That burden falls to us as fans. I do not have to tell you, but that burden is getting pretty heavy. I had convinced myself that it was not going to happen this time and that is what is called insanity.
Texas ends up on the wrong end of another classic playoff game
This game was one that will be shown for the next several Octobers, especially if Houston wins the series and then the World Series. Unfortunately for Texas they too often end up on the wrong end of these games. David Freese and 2011 World Series, Jose Bautista and the 2015 ALDS game 5, and now Jose Altuve and the 2023 ALCS.
This game had a lot of twists and turns along the way. Jordan Montgomery once again pitched a very good game. He pitched into the sixth inning giving up just two runs. His stuff was not as good as it was in game one. He still fought his tail off and kept the Rangers in the game. He departed with Texas trailing 2-1. Josh Sborz finished up the sixth inning.
Justin Verlander was nearing the end of his night as well, but not before Texas could take advantage. Corey Seager and Evan Carter had consecutive base hits in the sixth. That brought Adolis Garcia to the plate. He hit what could have been the most important home run in Texas Rangers history.
The elation from the crowd and the celebration from Garcia as Texas took the lead in the very important game five. It was one of those moments that despite the result fans will remember forever. Unfortunately it will join Josh Hamilton's 10th inning home run in game six of the 2011 World Series in the almost great category.
Benches clearing Hit by pitch
That home run did give Texas the lead. A lead that they would hold through a long eighth inning. It would start with an Evan Carter walk. Then on the next pitch Bryan Abreu would drill Adolis Garcia in the shoulder with a 99mph fastball. Garcia immediately reacted by confronting catcher Martin Maldonado. The benches cleared and Garcia started running around trying to fight somebody. He was held off by one of his teammates and Yordan Alvarez
It immediately begs the question of whether or not it was intentional. Garcia had slow walked his home run in the sixth, bat flipped, and took advantage of the moment. The eighth inning of a playoff game does not seem like the obvious moment to take a shot. Garcia certainly felt like it was intentional and reacted as such.
Players eventually walked back to the dugout and the bullpen. Dusty Baker, Bryan Abreu, and Garcia were all ejected as a result of this incident. Texas still had two runners on with no outs. They desperately needed one more run at least. Ryan Pressley came in for Bryan Abreu after the ejection. Pressley was in a difficult spot. He got Taveras to ground out to Jose Abreu who threw to second. Runners on first and third with one out. Then Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe both struck out to end the inning.
Then in the ninth Leclerc starts off by giving up a single to Yainer Diaz. Jon Singleton was brought in as a pinch hitter for Martin Maldonado. Leclerc starts off 3-0 against Singleton, gets it back to 3-2. Then, Leclerc throws a changeup that drifts outside the strike zone and Singleton doesn't chase and walks to first base. That brings Altuve up and as we know he hits a three-run home run to give Houston the lead and eventually the win.
Where does Texas go from here?
It might feel like it, but the series is not over. There is still a game six on Sunday night. Nathan Eovaldi will start against Framber Valdez in a rematch of game two. If they can have success against Valdez like they did in game two and Eovaldi can pitch well they can force this to a game seven.
In the 2019 World Series Houston went to Washington for the middle three games after losing games 1 and 2 at home. They beat Washington in all three games outscoring them 19-3. They came back home and faced Stephen Strasburg and lost 7-2. That setup Max Scherzer to start game 7. They got a miraculous home run from Howie Kendrick and won that game and the World Series 6-2. All of that to say the series is not over. Win with Eovaldi and then it moves to Scherzer for game 7. Anything can happen in game seven.
The method to win is still the same. Score early and often, get solid starting pitching into the sixth or seventh inning, and then give the ball the bullpen to close it out. If they can do that they can put themselves in position to send this to a game seven on Monday night. Maybe then it will be Houston fans that will be experiencing the heartbreak that Texas fans are currently feeling.