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MVP Garcia, Rangers smash Astros to win ALCS

Adolis Garcia’s two home runs send Rangers to World Series (0:49)

Adolis Garcia goes yard twice for the Rangers in Game 7 of the ALCS to send Texas to the World Series. (0:49)

HOUSTON — Adolis Garcia admired, flaunted and celebrated. He flung his bat and roared toward his own dugout and cupped his hands around his ears, seemingly basking in every moment that Game 7 of this American League Championship Series provided. At one point, as the Texas Rangers kept piling on runs and the home crowd grew increasingly more distraught, he even heard faint “MVP” chants.

They were prophetic.

The Rangers raced past the defending champion Houston Astros in their own building on Monday night, capturing an 11-4 victory to punch their ticket to the World Series. And Garcia — the man who triggered a benches-clearing incident during a controversial hit by pitch in Game 5, then provided the devastating blow with a prodigious grand slam in Game 6 — had his fingerprints all over it, solidifying MVP honors after a dynamic ALCS performance.

Garcia lined a Cristian Javier offering off the top of the left-field scoreboard in the first, settled for a single because he admired it too long, then promptly stole second base. In the third, he lofted a fly ball over the right-field fence to give the Rangers their fourth run. In the fourth, he provided the two-run single that highlighted a four-run inning and helped turn Game 7 into a laugher. And in the eighth, he unleashed a towering fly ball that sailed into the Crawford Boxes and essentially ended the Astros.

Garcia finished the ALCS with 15 RBIs, a record for any postseason series. He homered in four consecutive games, tied for the most in any playoff series. And he became the second player in major league history — along with Willie Stargell in the 1979 World Series — with four hits and a home run in a Game 7. Garcia, of course, hit two of them.

“This team, right here, we’re a family, and they push me to play hard,” Garcia said at the podium. “It’s nothing without the love of my teammates.”

The Rangers, who will host the winner of Tuesday’s decisive National League Championship Series game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, are the fourth team to reach the World Series within two years of losing 100 games.

The Rangers lost exactly 102 in 2021. Later that offseason, they spent a combined $500 million on two cornerstone middle infielders in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. The following year, they spent nearly $250 million to outfit their rotation with Jacob deGrom, Nathan Eovaldi and Andrew Heaney. At midseason, they traded for Max Scherzer, who recorded the first eight outs of Game 7, and Jordan Montgomery, who got the next seven. Along the way, Jonah Heim improved behind the plate, Nathaniel Lowe became a Silver Slugger, Josh Jung and Evan Carter emerged, and Garcia developed into a star, giving the Rangers one of the sport’s most prolific offenses.

Their road was treacherous. But Bruce Bochy, a three-time champion who returned from a three-year hiatus to manage the 2023 Rangers, provided the steady hand that guided the Rangers through it. Texas gave up the division to Houston on the final day of the regular season, and instead was forced to play in the wild-card round with an unsteady bullpen. It triggered a stunning seven-game postseason winning streak. The Rangers won back-to-back games against the Tampa Bay Rays, then swept the Baltimore Orioles in three division series games and took both games from the Astros in Houston’s Minute Maid Park to begin this ALCS. The Rangers lost three straight at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, the last one on a ninth-inning three-run homer from Jose Altuve in Game 5. But they came back to win Game 6 and never trailed in Game 7.

“We’ve done it all year,” Bochy said at the podium during the trophy presentation. “We’ve had our streaks, we’ve had our injuries, and we just keep getting up.”

Javier, who gave up just two runs through his first four postseason starts combined, gave up three runs in the first inning, serving up a 440-foot homer to Seager, a long single to Garcia and another run-scoring single to Mitch Garver. The Astros threatened off Scherzer in the third, but the Rangers came back with four runs off J.P. France in the top of the fourth. In the sixth, Lowe’s two-run homer proved to be the dagger. Garcia’s homer in the eighth was superfluous. Over his last six at-bats of this series, he had five hits, three of which were home runs. He drove in nine runs in that stretch alone.

The Rangers will make their third appearance in the World Series, having also been there in 2010 and 2011. Their 60-plus-year history does not include a single championship.

They can change that with four more wins.

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