The Texas Rangers won game one of the ALCS tonight in a old-school pitchers' duel. Jordan Montgomery and Justin Verlander were putting up zeroes through seven innings. Texas got to Verlander for a run in the second and a run in the fifth. After the game though it was a rookie that had both Jonah Heim and Jordan Montgomery in awe after the game as they did their postgame interviews with the Fox Sports crew. Montgomery in his interview with the Fox crew compared Carter to a 10-year vet. Heim brought up Carter's terrific baserunning that setup his run scoring single in the second. It was another stand out performance from the rookie. It will not be his hustle double or the play at the left field wall early in the game that people will be talking about. One of the stories of this game will be his eighth inning leaping catch in left field and the rare blunder by the 13-year veteran that saved the game for Texas.
Evan Carter's elite defense
It is not a surprise that Carter is such a great defensive outfielder. He won a minor league gold glove back in 2022. He has primarily been a center fielder his entire run in the minor leagues. One thing we have seen in the postseason is his lack of familiarity of some of these parks leading to him playing balls in the corners incorrectly. Tonight was his first game at Minute Maid Park and that left field is one of the more difficult to play with the tall wall in left and then the cut out leading to deeper wall in left center.
Carter though played a perfect left field tonight. That started early in the first inning when Bregman sent a shot to deep left and went back to the wall jumped up and caught it at the wall. He made a play later in the game running into foul territory and catching a ball. He was really feeling himself as the game went into the eighth and was still scoreless.
Altuve's Blunder that saved the Rangers
Texas led 2-0 entering the eighth inning. Josh Sborz had ended the seventh by getting the last two batters. He came back on for the start of the eighth. He immediately walked Altuve on a pitch that should have been called a strike. Bochy at that point removed him in favor of Aroldis Chapman.
Chapman has been struggling with walks so far this postseason as he had four in his three appearances so far. He also has a terrible history against the Astros that has even extended into his time with the Rangers. Alex Bregman represented the tying run at the plate with no outs. Bregman is 1-8 in his career against Chapman. It was a favorable matchup for Chapman. The count went to 2-1. Bregman then did this on the fourth pitch.
Carter again who has never played in this park before tracked that ball better than anyone could have expected. He timed his leap perfectly and made a tremendous catch. That was only half of the play.
While that was going on Altuve was cautiously approaching second base. He was going to score if Carter did not catch that ball. He took one step over second base, but did not come back and touch second when returning to first. Semien spotted it immediately, touched second after catching the relay. Altuve was initially ruled safe, but upon review,
Altuve was called out on review. Chapman then got to face Alvarez with no runners on. He was able to get Alvarez on a weak ground out to first. Leclerc was then able to close it out with a perfect ninth.
I want to continue talking about Carters' unbelievable catch. If that ball is a few feet to the left it is a tying home run. if it is a few inches higher it is a run scoring double or maybe triple. Fortunately for Texas it was not hit down the line or hit higher. Carter's catch and double play increased the Rangers' win probablity to 91%. It had just fallen to 77% after the Altuve walk. The exit velocity off Bregman's bat was 103.2 mph. It had an expected batting average of .560. It would have been a home run in two out of the 30 parks. It was hit 365 feet to deep left center field. Carter had no business catching that or even going up to try and catch that. Some left fielders would have backed up and played it off the wall. Carter being the daring rookie he is went for it and came away with maybe one of the best defensive plays from this playoff run.
Texas just continues to play unbelievable defense this month as they continue to pile on wins. Carter had his plays, Semien had a clutch throw to first to get Tucker in the ninth, and the team once again came away with zero errors on the night. It becomes much easier to pitch when the defense is making plays like what we saw from the outstanding rookie Evan Carter.
Texas now will continue with a quick turnaround on Monday afternoon with game two as Nathan Eovaldi will take on Framber Valdez at 3:15pm.