The Astros complete their historically dominant sweep against the declining Rangers
Until about three weeks ago, this was the year of the Texas Rangers.
The combination of incredible free agent spending and potential development has given them the best lineup in baseball, along with a rotation spearheaded recently by three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. They’re ahead 3.5 games in the competitive AL West, with the best runoff difference in the AL and on their way to having the best regular season record… ever.
Those days faded completely into memory on Wednesday, when the Houston Astros completed an unholy assault on their in-state rivals who are destined for the record books.
With Scherzer on the Rangers mound, the Astros took the final series 12-3 on the road, after going 13-6 on Monday and 14-1 on Tuesday. Without context, this may have been the most dominant series by any team this season.
With context, it was hard not to see a team happily clutching the lid of an upstart rival’s coffin.
The Astros made MLB history with three consecutive games featuring at least five players each, joining the 2020 New York Yankees, 2019 Yankees, and 1977 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to have such a streak, per Sarah Lang from MLB.com. 16 players in that period are tied for second in MLB history, Just behind the same 2020 Yankees. Consider what type of ball the MLB was using in 2019 and 2020.
Of those players, Jose Altuve had five (three on Tuesday alone) while Maurice Dupont, Martin Maldonado, Jordan Alvarez and Jose Abreu had two.
It’s not like the Astros caught the Rangers at the bottom of their cycle, either. Andrew Heaney, one of the Rangers’ biggest free possessions this past winter, started Monday. Nathan Iovaldi, this season’s All-Star and another free agent signing, started on Tuesday. Scherzer, the big news for the trade deadline, began on Wednesday.
The triple combined to allow 14 earned runs. Scherzer was responsible for half of them, failing in a thrilling duel between himself and teammate Justin Verlander two months earlier.
If the Rangers were going to turn their season around after losing eight straight games and leading the division at the end of last month, this would be the series to do so. Instead, they were humiliated and pushed to third place in the division they led for the first four-and-a-half months of the season.
The Rangers are now 76-63 in three games from the Astros in the AL West, with the second-place Seattle Mariners (one game) between them.
It’s tempting to say they got a reprieve with their next series, a three-game home game against the bottom-place Oakland Athletics, but the A’s have racked up more than twice as many wins (10) as the Rangers (four) over the last three weeks.