Both American League Championship Series with pivotal Game 3 stakes are going down beginning today at 4pm ET with the young gunning Houston Astros and the heavily-favored Kansas City Royals deadlocked at 1-1. The biggest surprise has been the NL West winner, Texas Rangers, who lead the Toronto Blue Jays (AL East champs) 2-0.
Many prognosticators were drinking Toronto’s Kool Aid because of its 93-win season and the trade deadline acquisitions of All-Star Troy Tulowitzki and Black Ace David Price. The Toronto lineup features three guys in Joey “Bats” Bautista (40 homers), Juan Encarnacion (39 blasts) and probable MVP Josh Donaldson (41 dingers) who bomb on site, but Texas pitching has held those hot bats to seven runs in two games, while getting those all-important clutch hits that make or break playoff games. Texas’ 14-inning, Game 2 win was an instant playoff classic and despite bullyign tactics Toronto has dug itself a hold in this five-game series that may be unsurmountable.
It’s up to emerging hurler Marco Estrada, who held opponents to an American-League low .202 batting average and sported a Top-5 ERA (3.13). He was 7-3 with a 2.78 ERA in the second half and Toronto needs a similar performance from him in this win-or-go-home scenario at Globe Life Park in Arlington at 8pm ET.
Martin Perez (3-6, 4.46 ERA) can go from Rangers maybe to Arlington’s baby if he can pitch the game of his life and sweep the Jays at home in Texas to advance to the ALCS. This game looks like a Toronto win. They are too good to go out like this and will be playing with a sense of urgency.
Kansas City’s Edison Volquez isn’t Houston Astros Game 3 starter Dallas Keuchel, but he’s a game craftsman who can go deep in games. In Game 1 Collin McHugh and the Astros bullpen outdueled Yordano Ventura, 2-0.
Kansas City showed their playoff-ready swag and rebounded for a tight 5-4 come from behind win. Nobody expects Houston to win this series. I surely don’t. I still pick the Royals to win The World Series and complete some unfinished business.
They are on a mission. Houston is a young squad with nothing to lose and that’s always dangerous, but reality will set in soon. It will probably being tonight. If KC can get a win over the probable NL Cy Young winner, then that shifts the series in its favor, because Houston is tossing rookie Lance McCullers in Game 4.