A WHOLE NEW BALL GAME
16 reasons why it's better to be rooting for the Astros
The Houston Astros 2020 redemption tour – better known as the Major League post-season - starts today with a quicky best-of-three series against the Minnesota Twins, kings of the American League Central division.
All games will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis. While the Twins had baseball's best home record, 24-7, and the Astros were roadkill with a disastrous 9-23 mark away from Minute Maid Park …
I'd still rather be us than them, and there are sweet 16 reasons why.
It's a hard-to-believe stat, but the Twins have lost 16 consecutive playoff games, the Major League record for post-season futility. You can look it up, the Twins were bamboozled 13 times by the Yankees and three times by the A's since 2003.
A more important date, however, is 1991, the last time the Twins sniffed the World Series. Most of the Twins' regulars, including Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario. Byron Buxton, Max Kepler weren't even born yet when the Twins last played in the Fall Classic. You know Newton's First Law, right? An object in motion stays in motion. With even a little effort, the Twins will extend their playoff losing streak to 18.
In the Astros dugout, all you have is experience under pressure. The Astros have seen the World Series from both sides – winning in 2017 and losing in 2019, sandwiched around another playoff appearance in 2018. The Astros succeed under the gun.
OK, this season the Astros are a rare playoff team with a losing record, 29-31, successfully managing to lose less than the Angels and Mariners. But thanks to an expanded playoff scheme concocted by commissioner Rob Manfred, 29-31 was good enough for second place in the American League West and automatic entry to the post-season. Hey, the Astros didn't make the rules, don't blame them.
The Twins are a heavy favorite to smack the Astros this week thanks to their regular-season record. That was then, this is now. It's a whole new ballgame, everybody's starting 0-0.
Look at today's starting pitchers (1 p.m. on ABC 13). The Twins are throwing Kenta Maeda, a pretty good pitcher for sure. We'll have Zack Greinke, a future Hall of Famer, with a lifetime 208-126 record. He's the winningest active pitcher and would have 209 wins if a certain bonehead manager left him in Game 7 of last year's World Series. And I say bonehead with love and admiration for dearly departed (from Houston) manager A.J. Hinch.
I like our chances in Game 2, too. The Twins will have Jose Barrios on the mound, the Astros are starting TBD. It's practically impossible to prepare for that guy TBD, so the Astros could wrap up the series in two games.
I'm sticking with the Astros in 2020. More important, the Astros are +150 on the money line today. The over/under is 7.5 runs. In the words of the world's greatest gambler, Cosmo Kramer, that's some sweet action.