The Opener: ALCS, NLCS, Rays Chat

As the 2023 postseason continues, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Astros tie up the ALCS:

The Astros secured their second consecutive ALCS victory last night, pummeling the Rangers in Arlington for a 10-3 win. The victory for Houston ties up the series at two, with one more left to play at Globe Life Field this afternoon before the teams return to Houston for Game 5 on Sunday. Veteran second baseman Jose Altuve carried the night for the Astros, recording three hits with two doubles and a walk, scoring three times and knocking in one. Shortstop Corey Seager and outfielder Adolis Garcia tried to keep things competitive for the Rangers, as both went 2-for-4 with a home run, but the Astros bullpen shut down the rest of Texas’s lineup after a shaky 2 1/3 inning start from right-hander Jose Urquidy.

The Rangers will look to avoid being swept out of their three ALCS home games this evening, with the first pitch of Game 5 scheduled for 4:07pm CT. Tonight’s game will feature a rematch between left-hander Jordan Montgomery (3.20 ERA, 2.08 this postseason) and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander (3.22 ERA, 1.42 this postseason). Montgomery won the pitching duel between the pair in Game 1, during which Verlander allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings of work while the southpaw silenced Houston’s bats for 6 1/3 scoreless frames.

2. DBacks stay in the NLCS with walk-off:

Much of last night’s game was dominated by a pitchers’ duel between Phillies left-hander Ranger Suarez and Diamondbacks righty Brandon Pfaadt, who went 5 1/3 and 5 2/3 scoreless innings, respectively. Pfaadt was particularly impressive, striking out nine while issuing no walks and allowing just two hits. As the game was handed over the the clubs’ bullpens, the game stay relatively low scoring, with first baseman Bryce Harper scoring on a wild pitch to represent Philadelphia’s lone run of the game. In the end, Arizona managed to walk it off on a single off the bat of Ketel Marte as veteran closer Craig Kimbrel struggled for the Phillies, allowing two walks and two hits while recording just one out.

Looking ahead to this evening’s game, which is poised to start at 7:07pm CT, Arizona will try to keep the momentum going and tie the series against Phillies Game 4 starter Cristopher Sanchez. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, will counter with a bullpen game started by left-hander Joe Mantiply. Right-hander Slade Cecconi is likely Arizona’s best long-relief option ahead of today’s bullpen game, while Sanchez will be backed up by a handful of multi-inning options, including regular season starters Taijuan Walker and Michael Lorenzen.

3. Offseason Outlook Chat:

The Rays installment of of the 2023-24 edition of MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook series was published yesterday, as the club faces a choice between a record payroll in 2024 and radically altering a team that won 99 games this year. If you have any questions about the coming offseason in Tampa following the club being swept out of the Wild Card series at the hands of the Rangers, you can tune in at 11:00am CT for a live chat with MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald. This link will allow you to submit a question in advance, participate live, or read the transcript afterward.

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