The 2023 ALDS was not nearly as eventful as fans may have hoped, although fans of the two Texas teams are completely fine with that.
Even for baseball fans who's teams are no longer standing, this Rangers-Astros inter-state ALCS will be appointment television.
Is anyone really surprised to see the Astros in the ALCS? No one should be because the Astros in the ALCS has become synonymous with death and taxes in terms of certainties in life.
What was very different for the Rangers and Astros was their path to the ALCS. The Rangers are now 5-0 this postseason having swept both the wildcard round and division series.
Houston narrowly won the AL West and had a quicker path to the ALCS. There will be plenty of analysis on this rivalry series. But let's take a look at how the Rangers and Astros won their respective ALDS series' to get to this point.
The Orioles locked up the top seed in the American League with a 101-61 record. Entering the series, they appeared to be a tough matchup for the Rangers. But so too were the 99 win Rays who the Rangers steamrolled in the wild card series by a combined score of 11-1.
Texas caught fire at the right time and never gave Tampa or Baltimore an inch.
After a narrow win over the Orioles in game 1, the Rangers had an offensive outburst in game 2.
They took game 2 but a score of 11-8 to head back home with a 2-0 series lead. Texas kept their foot firmly on the gas as they put up 6 runs in the first 2 innings which was more than enough to eventually take the game 7-1.
The Rangers won a pitcher's duel, a high-scoring game, and mixed in a dominant win. This team has morphed to any style their opponent plays and has continued to win.
Houston took game 1 with relative ease with the exception of a slight scare late in the game. Regardless, they won 6-4 and appeared to be on cruise control as they typically are this time of year. Minnesota bounced back in a big way with a dominant game 2 win heading back home.
After that bad loss in game 2, the Astros appeared to have made the decision that they were done messing around.
In game 3, the Astros scored 4 runs in the 1st inning, took the crowd out immediately, and won with ease by a score of 9-1. Game 4 was the first nail biter of the series, but alas, the Astros took care of business once again to punch their ticket to yet another ALCS.
The Astros, once again, just appear unflappable. The Twins were feeling good going home after a dominant win. Immediately, the bubble was burst as the Astros asserted their dominance and decided the series was over. Similar to the Rangers, the Astros won big, won small, and even in between.
As mentioned, both teams had dominant games and had nail biting games. With that, there were both fantastic pitching performances, as well as offensive performances.
For the Rangers, Nathan Eovaldi had a bit of an up and down year. But he has showed up in a big way in both starts in the wild card and division series'. In his lone ALDS start, Eovaldi pitched 7 innings allowing just 1 run while collecting 7 strikeouts.
On the offensive side of the ball, Adolis Garcia, Mitch Garver, and Josh Jung carried the weight as they each had double digit at-bats and had an OPS over 1.000.
To no surprise, Justin Verlander and Christian Javier did their part on the mound. Those guys combined for 11 innings pitched, no runs allowed, and 15 strikeouts. Also to no surprise, Yordan Alvarez was a huge part of the Astros' offensive attack.
Alvarez was 7-16 with 4 home runs, 6 RBI's, and a 1.784 OPS. Teammate Jose Abreu was also clutch as he went 5-16 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI's, and a 1.228 OPS.
As close as the AL West race was this year, it felt like there was a possibility all along that the Rangers and Astros were on a collision course to a head to head playoff series. Sure enough, here we are.
This is a great rivalry that will only be amplified by the high stakes with the pennant on the line.
Having gone a combined 8-1 in this postseason, the Rangers and Astros are dominating right now. The Rangers represent the current unstoppable force and the Astros represent the consistent immovable object. This ALCS is going to be must-watch television.