Houston is heading back to the ALCS

Astros headed to ALCS after offensive explosion in ALDS Game 4

Astros Carlos Correa
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Carlos Correa celebrates a go-ahead three-run home run in ALDS Game 4

After taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the series with wins in games one and two, the Astros suffered their first loss of the 2020 postseason in ALDS Game 3 on Wednesday. With uncertainty about who would start the game on the mound for the Astros, Zack Greinke would end up making a start in Game 4 as Houston tried again to put the A's away.

They would indeed finish the series win, thanks to outslugging Oakland in another homer-heavy affair and winning 11-6. They advance to the ALCS for the fourth-straight year in their quest for the franchise's second World Series victory. Here are highlights from the game:

Final Score: Astros 11, A's 6.

Series: HOU wins 3-1.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Frankie Montas.

Laureano homers off Greinke, twice

After waiting until Thursday morning to be sure, it was Zack Greinke who Dusty Baker handed the ball to in Game 4. After a quick first inning, the A's quickly put stress on him, getting back-to-back one-out singles to set up a three-run home run by Ramón Laureano to put Oakland up 3-0 quickly.

Greinke refocused, allowing just one baserunner in the next eight at-bats, finishing the fourth inning. He returned for the fifth but was met with another home run by Laureano, a solo shot. He would get two more outs before issuing a two-out walk, prompting Dusty Baker to make a move to bring in Blake Taylor to complete the inning. Greinke's final line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 76 P.

Brantley and Correa lead an offensive explosion

Greinke would exit with a lead despite those runs allowed, though, thanks to a big fourth inning by his offense. It started with a leadoff walk by Jose Altuve, setting up a two-run shot by Michael Brantley. Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker hit back-to-back singles in the next two at-bats, getting on base for a crushed 427-foot, go-ahead three-run bomb by Carlos Correa.

They extended their lead by a large margin in the next two innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Brantley would hit his second homer of the day to lead off the inning before an RBI-single by Correa to make it 7-4. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Kyle Tucker would get his second RBI of the series, followed by Correa's fifth of the game, both on two-out singles to make it a five-run game at 9-4.

Houston advances to ALCS

Cristian Javier took over on the mound in the top of the sixth, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 inning. He returned in the seventh and worked around two two-out hits to keep it a five-run game. Jose Altuve made it a seven-run game with his bat in the bottom of the inning, getting in on the home run parade with a two-run shot to make it 11-4.

Javier remained in the game with the big lead, but after allowing a double and hitting a batter, would be taken out with one out in favor of Enoli Paredes. Paredes would get the final two outs of the inning and strand both runners. Still 11-4 in the top of the ninth, the Astros took no chances, bringing in closer Ryan Pressly. He would get through the inning despite allowing two runs, wrapping up the win and the series for Houston, who have been in every ALCS since 2017.

Up Next: The Astros will have a couple of days off before starting up the ALCS, with Game 1 on Sunday. They will face the winner of the Yankees / Rays ALDS, with starters and times TBD.

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Will all the Texans playmakers be satisfied with their roles in the offense? Composite Getty Image.

ESPN Texans reporter DJ Bien-Aime joined The Mina Kimes Show this weekand shared his thoughts on the Texans outlook this season.

When looking at the Texans offense, Bien-Aime pointed to Houston's play calling as being a possible issue in 2024. Bobby Slowik did a terrific job in his first season as an offensive coordinator. But he will have his hands full keeping all his playmakers happy with Stefon Diggs joining the team, and Nico Collins expecting a ton of looks after signing a massive contract extension.

Which got us thinking, are there enough catches to go around?

We took a deep dive into the 2023 numbers and here's what we found. CJ Stroud averaged 21 completions per game. And here's a breakdown of how many catches his receivers averaged last year.

Nico Collins 5.3 catches per game

Stefon Diggs (with Buffalo) 6.29 catches per game

Dalton Schultz 3.93 catches per game

Tank Dell 4.27 catches per game

Texans running backs 3.05 catches per game

If we add those up, the total is 22.84. Which means the Texans top receivers should expect a similar amount of production compared to last season. Of course, players like Noah Brown, Robert Woods, and Brevin Jordan will take targets away from Stefon Diggs and company from time to time.

But it's good to know that the Texans top pass catchers should produce numbers close to their 2023 averages. Which is a big deal for a player in a contract year like Diggs.

Another thing to note. We're factoring in that the Texans are expected to run out of 11 personnel most of the time. Which means Diggs, Collins, Dell, Schultz, and Mixon will be the only pass catchers on the field the majority of the time.

Are there concerns about the defense?

Both Kimes and Bien-Aime designated Houston's secondary as the big x-factor this year. Bien-Aime named cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. as the only player in the secondary that he truly trusts. Is he right?

Be sure to watch the video above as we react to Kimes and Bien-Aime's outlook for the Texans this year, and share our thoughts on the possible pitfalls the team will have to navigate in the short and long-term.

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