Will Cristian Javier dominate like in his three prior postseason starts? Or will Houston’s $64 million rotation piece get gobsmacked in the early innings like his platoon-mates before him?
The Astros are leaning on the 26-year-old from the Dominican Republic to put them in the win column when Game 3 of the American League Championship Series unfolds on Wednesday evening in Arlington.
The Texas Rangers hold a 2-0 advantage, but they might not have the edge in their own ball park, Globe Life Field.
Houston owns a 6-1 record at the three-year-old venue this season, including a sweep of lopsided wins back in early September.
Game 3 may also be the end of some streaks. Texas is riding a seven-game postseason win streak, dating back to its AL Wild-Card Series. Houston has a six-game road win streak, dating back to Sept. 27. And Javier is unbeaten in his last three playoff starts – all on the road – dating back to last year’s ALCS Game 3.
By the end of Wednesday night, one team may be a game away from sweeping an AL West rival, or the other team may earn back momentum toward an odds-defying ALCS win.
The game is set for a 7:03 p.m. first pitch.
Houston’s prior Game 3s when down 0-2 in best-of-seven series
The Astros have lost the first two games of a best-of-seven-game series four times in their history.
Of course, those teams had to keep trucking. Just two losses don’t end a series that requires four to eliminate a team.
How did the past ‘Stros follow up in Game 3?
The first time they went into a 0-2 hole was in the 2004 National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who defended their home field in the first two games. As the series shifted to Minute Maid Park, Houston earned a 5-2 victory on the strength of home runs by Jeff Kent, Carlos Beltran, and Lance Berkman, as well as a seven-inning performance by Roger Clemens. Houston went on to sweep the rest of the home games, coming within one more win of the World Series. The Astros were eliminated in seven games.
The next time they would encounter 0-2 was in the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox. After dropping the first two games in Chi-Town, Houston ran out to a 4-0 lead after four innings, until the White Sox hung five runs on Roy Oswalt in the fifth inning. The Astros tied up the game in the eighth inning with a Jason Lane RBI double. Houston and Chicago would go into the 14th inning to decide this game, which White Sox batter Geoff Blum – yes, the Astros broadcaster – untied with a home run. Either one or two runs decided the games of this series.
Fourteen years later, Houston faced its first time losing the first two games at home in the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals. The ‘Stros used six pitchers, including starter Zack Greinke, to limit the Nats to just one run despite allowing nine hits. Meanwhile, Houston batters dinged up Washington’s Anibal Sanchez with 10 hits and four earned runs to claim Game 3. The ‘Stros swept the rest of the road games and, just like in the 2004 NLCS, came within a victory of winning a second World Series title in three years. The Astros lost in seven games.
The most recent 0-2 start to a series happened three years ago in the 2020 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays, and unlike the other series in this entry, all of the games were played at a neutral site in San Diego, without fans, and within a space of seven days. Houston lost close games in the first two contests. In Game 3, Houston held a 1-0 lead through the first five innings until things came undone in the sixth inning where the Rays scored five runs. Houston went on to play in four straight elimination games as part of an improbable turnaround that was snuffed out in Game 7.
2023 ALCS schedule and results, Texas leads 2-0 in best-of-seven series
- Game 1: Rangers 2, Astros 0
- Game 2: Rangers 5, Astros 4
- Game 3: Astros at Rangers, Wednesday, 7:03 p.m.
- Game 4: Astros at Rangers, Thursday, 7:03 p.m.
- Game 5: Astros at Rangers, Friday, 4:07 p.m.*
- Game 6: Rangers at Astros, Sunday, 7:03 p.m.*
- Game 7: Rangers at Astros, Monday, Oct. 23, 7:03 p.m.*