Marcus Semien shines against Justin Verlander as Rangers take Game 1 of ALCS

Marcus Semien

The Texas Rangers defeated the Houston Astros 5-3 in the opening game of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night, thanks to a stellar performance by their leadoff hitter Marcus Semien. Semien went 3 for 5 with a double, a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs, continuing his hot streak in the postseason. He also showed his prowess against Astros ace Justin Verlander, who had a rough outing and took the loss.

Marcus Semien

Semien’s history against Verlander

Semien has faced Verlander more than any other pitcher in his career, and he has had remarkable success against him. In 43 at-bats, he has hit .326 with a double, a triple, two home runs and six RBIs. He also has a .275 expected batting average and a .532 expected slugging percentage against Verlander, indicating that his results are not based on luck or randomness.

In Game 1 of the ALCS, Semien wasted no time in making his presence felt. He led off the game with a double to left field, and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus. In the third inning, he launched a solo home run to right field, giving the Rangers a 2-0 lead. He added another RBI single in the fifth inning, driving in Isiah Kiner-Falefa from second base.

Semien’s home run was his third of the postseason, tying him with Trea Turner of the Philadelphia Phillies for the most in the majors. He also leads all players with 12 runs scored and 18 hits in the playoffs.

Verlander’s struggles continue

Verlander, who won the Cy Young Award in 2023 after going 13-8 with a 3.22 ERA and 219 strikeouts in the regular season, has not been able to replicate his dominance in the postseason. He has lost both of his starts, allowing nine runs (eight earned) on 15 hits and four walks in 10 innings. He has also given up four home runs, matching his total from his previous 11 playoff starts combined.

Verlander lasted only five innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out six batters, but also threw two wild pitches and hit a batter. He was unable to contain the Rangers’ offense, which ranked first in the majors in runs (915), hits (1,549), doubles (343), triples (51), home runs (262) and OPS (.832) during the regular season.

Verlander’s ERA in the postseason is now 7.20, compared to his career mark of 3.19. He has also lost four consecutive playoff decisions, dating back to Game 2 of the 2022 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What’s next for both teams

The Rangers will try to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series when they face the Astros again on Monday night at Minute Maid Park. They will send left-hander Jordan Montgomery to the mound, who went 10-11 with a 3.20 ERA and 187 strikeouts in the regular season. He has made one start in the postseason, pitching six scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the ALDS.

The Astros will counter with right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who was 12-7 with a 3.54 ERA and 202 strikeouts in the regular season. He has also made one start in the postseason, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in five innings against the Chicago White Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS.

The ALCS will shift to Globe Life Field in Arlington for Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) starting on Wednesday.

By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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