Four teams. Two spots in the World Series up for grabs. The 2023 MLB playoffs have reached the league championship round.
In the American League, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros met in the early game, with the Rangers taking the second straight game in Houston to grab a dominant 2-0 series lead before heading to Arlington. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks begin their best-of-seven series tonight in the National League.
We’ve have you covered with matchups, live updates and analysis, followed by takeaways from the ballparks after the final pitch of each game.
Key links: Full playoffs schedule and results
Texas Rangers 5, Houston Astros 4: The defending champion Astros are in a whole heap of trouble. There were several fulcrum-type moments in Game 2 in which the Astros seemed to be on the verge of tipping things back to familiarity, or at least the kind of dynamic we’ve come to expect from this bunch in the playoffs. But starter Nathan Eovaldi, manager Bruce Bochy and the Rangers responded every time.
This is what the playoffs are about: winning the big moments. The highlight reel for this dynamic was Eovaldi’s Houdini job in getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam with no runs scoring. Those were the three highest-leverage plate appearances of Eovaldi’s outing and he won them all.
The Astros kept chipping away with the longball and that created some drama for the late innings. But Bochy went out on a limb to give Jose Leclerc a shot at a four-out save, which he completed despite issuing two walks before that first out in the bottom of the eighth. As has happened so many times when Bochy makes a postseason call, his players answer. The Rangers are up 2-0 with the next three games slated for Globe Life Field and Max Scherzer taking the hill in Game 3. — Bradford Doolittle