Alton GonzalezESPN staff writer4 minutes of reading
Houston — Adolis Garcia admired, proclaimed and celebrated. He threw his bat and roared toward his home dugout for every moment that Game 7 of this American League Championship Series offered. At one point, he even heard faint “MVP” chants as the home crowd grew increasingly agitated as the Texas Rangers kept piling up runs.
They were prophetic.
The Rangers cruised past the defending champion Houston Astros in their own building on Monday night, capturing an 11-4 victory to punch their ticket to the World Series. And Garcia — who sparked the benches-clearing incident during a controversial hit with a pitch in Game 5 and then dealt a devastating blow with a stunning grand slam in Game 6 — had his fingerprints all over the mound, securing MVP honors afterward. Dynamic ALCS performance.
Garcia lined out to Cristian Javier at first off the top of the left-field scoreboard, settled for a single as he hailed it too long, then immediately stole second base. In the third, he lofted a fly ball over the right-field fence to give the Rangers their fourth run. In the fourth, he gave up a two-run single that highlighted a four-run inning and helped turn Game 7 into a laugher. In the eighth, he unleashed a high fly ball that sailed into the Crawford boxes and essentially ended the Astros.
Garcia finished the ALCS with 15 RBIs, the most in any postseason series. He hit four straight games, tying the most in any playoff streak. And he became the second player in major league history with four hits and a home run in Game 7 — along with Willie Starkell in the 1979 World Series. Garcia, of course, scored two of them.
“This team, right here, we’re a family and they push me to play hard,” Garcia said on stage. “It would be nothing without the love of my teammates.”
The Rangers, who will host the winner of Tuesday’s decisive National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks, are the fourth team to reach the World Series in less than two years after losing 100 games.
The Rangers lost exactly 102 in 2021. Later that season, they spent $500 million on Corey Seager and Marcus Siemian, two cornerstone middle infielders. The following year, they spent nearly $250 million to outfit their rotation with Jacob deGrom, Nathan Ewaldi and Andrew Heaney. In the offseason, they traded Max Scherzer, who recorded the first eight outs of Game 7, and Jordan Montgomery, who had the next seven. Along the way, Jonah Heim stepped up behind the plate, Nathaniel Lowe became a silver slugger, Josh Jung and Evan Carter emerged, and Garcia blossomed into a star, giving the Rangers one of the most prolific offenses in the game.
Their path was treacherous. But three-time champion Bruce Bochy, who returned from a three-year hiatus to manage the 2023 Rangers, provided a steady hand to guide the Rangers. Texas dropped the division to Houston on the final day of the regular season, forcing them to play with an unstable bullpen instead in the wild-card round. It sparked a stunning seven-game postseason streak. The Rangers won back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Rays, then beat the Baltimore Orioles in three division series games and took two games from the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston to start this ALCS. The Rangers have lost three straight at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, the last on Jose Altuve’s ninth-inning 3-run homer in Game 5. But they won Game 6 and never trailed again in Game 7.
“We did it all year,” Bochy said on stage during the trophy presentation. “We’ve had our streaks, we’ve had our injuries, and we just keep getting up.”
Javier, who had given up just two runs in his first four postseason starts, gave up three runs in the first inning, hitting a 440-foot homer to Seager, a long single to Garcia and another run-scorer to Mitch Carver. The Astros threatened Scherzer in the third, but the Rangers scored four runs off JP France in the fourth. In the sixth, Lowe’s two-run homer proved to be the dagger. Garcia’s homer in the eighth was overkill. In his last six at-bats in the series, he had five hits, three of which were home runs. He scored nine runs in that series alone.
The Rangers would make their third appearance in the World Series in 2010 and 2011. Not a single championship in their 60-plus year history.
They can change that with four more wins.