The Houston Astros are one victory away from reaching the World Series for a third straight season after Jose Altuve hit a game-winning three-run home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Texas Rangers 5-4 on Friday.
Altuve’s blast countered a sixth-inning go-ahead homer from Rangers outfielder Adolis García, which had put Texas ahead 4-2 entering the ninth frame with closer José Leclerc on the mound.
After Yainer Diaz singled and Jon Singleton worked a walk to begin the ninth frame, the Astros second baseman took Leclerc deep for the 26th postseason homer of his illustrious career.
“He’s incredible, he’s so clutch,” Altuve’s teammate Alex Bregman said postgame. “He has a slow heartbeat and it seems like in the biggest moments in this franchise’s history he always comes through. In awe, in awe. I get to see him on a daily basis and I’m in awe.”
The thrilling back-and-forth contest also featured a benches-clearing incident in the eighth inning after García was struck by a Bryan Abreu offering on the first pitch of his first at-bat following his go-ahead homer.
The Rangers slugger got into a verbal confrontation with Astros catcher Martín Maldonado before both teams rushed onto the field. Abreu, García, and Astros manager Dusty Baker were ejected.
“The worst thing he did was wake up the Houston Astros,” Maldonado said of García, per Fox Sports.
The Astros won three consecutive games on the road and now have a chance to clinch the American League Championship at home when the two state rivals play Game 6 at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.
The Astros will send left-hander Framber Valdez to the mound, while the Rangers counter with hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi.