WASHINGTON (AFP) — Adolis Garcia smashed a grand slam home run and the Texas Rangers beat defending champion Houston 9-2 on Sunday to force a winner-take-all showdown in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The Rangers pulled level at 3-3 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series and will try to reach their first World Series since 2011 by winning on the road again on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).
“Going to be a tough game,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s a big game for both sides. It’s going to be exciting.”
The AL champion will open the World Series on Friday against the winner of the National League Championship Series, which Philadelphia leads 3-2 over Arizona with game six on Monday in Philadelphia.
The Astros will seek their third consecutive World Series and fifth in seven seasons, having taken the title in 2017 and last year in the dynasty run.
“We’ve got to come in ready to go,” winning pitcher Nathan Eovaldi said. “We don’t worry about the World Series. We worry about winning that game.”
“We knew they weren’t going to roll over. We knew it was going to be a dogfight. Now we have to come out tomorrow and be ready.”
Garcia was ejected from game five on Friday and had to be restrained by teammates after becoming upset when he was hit by a pitch from Houston’s Bryan Abreu, who was also ejected.
Garcia had struck out four times on Sunday, the last when Abreu retired him in the eighth inning without hitting him, but the 30-year-old Cuban outfielder returned to the plate in the ninth with the bases loaded and crushed a dramatic four-run blast to secure a Texas triumph.