The Houston Astros are red hot on the road, and no place is more appealing than Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
The Astros have scored 59 runs in their last five road games against the Texas Rangers as the rivals prepare to battle in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night.
Texas holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, but Houston gained momentum with an 8-5 victory on Wednesday.
Not only did the Astros win for the 17th time in their past 20 road games, but they improved to 7-1 while visiting the Rangers in 2023. The Astros are averaging 8.9 runs in the eight games.
In a memorable three-game sweep in early September, Houston smacked 16 homers and outscored Texas 39-10.
Astros manager Dusty Baker downplayed the success in Texas but perked up when quizzed about his squad’s road play. Counting the postseason, Houston is 54-30 away from home and just 40-45 at home.
“It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” Baker said. “Because usually you want to be .500 on the road and way over .500 at home. I asked the team in spring training to be the best road team. Maybe I should have asked them to be the best road and home team.”
Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, who has six homers and 10 RBIs this postseason, also made note of it.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Alvarez said through a translator. “We play a lot better on the road, and we need to take advantage of it.”
Alvarez and Martin Maldonado each hit a two-run single, and Jose Altuve smacked his 25th career postseason homer on Wednesday. Only Manny Ramirez (29) has gone deep more in the playoffs than Altuve.
“He comes to play every day,” Baker said of Altuve. “And you see him look bad on one at-bat and he’ll pop you the next at-bat.
“This guy is one of the best playoff players of all time. We love him. The fans in Houston love him. He’s a fan favorite. You enjoy watching him play every day.”
Josh Jung hit a pair of two-run homers for the Rangers, who lost for the first time in eight games this postseason.
“The kid did a great job of getting us back in the game a couple of times,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said of Jung. “We were fighting to get back in it.”
Nathaniel Lowe joined Jung in having two hits and scoring twice. However, the rest of the Rangers combined for just two hits in 24 at-bats.
The Rangers announced that left-hander Andrew Heaney (0-0, 2.45 ERA in the postseason) is their “probable” starting pitcher for Thursday. Right-hander Jose Urquidy (1-0, 3.18 in the postseason) will start for Houston.
Heaney, 32, started Game 1 of the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles and allowed one run and two hits over 3 2/3 innings. Overall, he has a 2.70 ERA in two career postseason appearances (one start).
Heaney is 4-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 15 career starts against the Astros, including a 1-0 mark and 2.75 ERA in four 2023 starts. He pitched five scoreless innings in two of the outings.
Jose Abreu (5-for-19, .263) has hit four homers against Heaney, and Altuve (12-for-37, .324) has taken him deep twice.
Urquidy picked up the win in the clinching Game 4 of the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins when he gave up two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings. He is 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA in 13 career postseason appearances (seven starts).
Urquidy didn’t face Texas in the 2023 regular season but is a stellar 5-0 with a 2.82 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers.
Marcus Semien is 8-for-21 (.381) with three homers off Urquidy in the regular season and postseason combined.