Houston is heading back to the ALCS

Astros headed to ALCS after offensive explosion in ALDS Game 4

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

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.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
The Astros play Game 1 of the ALDS Tuesday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

With a nod to Charles Dickens, October is the best of times (Astros) and the worst of times (Texans and Rockets) for Houston sports fans. At least this October.

October is the one month when all three of Houston’s major sports teams are guaranteed to be in full swing at the same time. It’s possible, if the Astros make the World Series that November will have all three teams in action, too. But let’s not jinx things.

The Astros start their playoff run Tuesday on TBS. Since the Yankees also play that day, also on TBS, we can assume the Astros will get the daytime slot, the Yankees in prime time. Now before Astros fans start screaming east coast bias, it really only applies to TV. Fun fact: no New York Met has ever won an MVP Award, and only one Yankee has won it in the past 37 years – Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and 2007. How’d that work out for him? Most important, a New York team has won the World Series only once in the past two decades – the Yankees in 2009.

The Astros could play as many as 15 more games in October, five in the Division Series, seven in the League Championship Series and three in the World Series before the calendar flips to November.

Meanwhile, the Texans plod on with three more games in October, and the Rockets have 11.

The winless Texans are at home against the Titans at NRG Stadium, on the road against the Jaguars and Raiders.

The Rockets, coming off the worst record in the NBA last season, have three games at home at Toyota Center and eight on the road.

This presents a problem of abundance, an embarrassment of riches, for Houston sports junkies. Who are you going to watch on TV? Which team will you pay to watch in person? Who are you rooting for the most? Whose jersey will you buy?

David Puddy is right, you “gotta support the team,” but who will own Houston this month?

What to do? If it’s true that nothing succeeds like success, and everybody loves a winner – it’s an obvious choice.

The Astros.

The Astros just completed their regular season with 106 wins, second most in franchise history, another American League West title, the best record in the American League and will have home field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Even though fans had high hopes for the Astros entering 2022, the team smashed everybody’s expectations. Vegas put the Astros over/under wins at 92 games. The Astros seemingly flew by that number during spring training.

They are the first team in American League history to win 100 games in four of their last five full seasons. Not even Babe Ruth’s Yankees of the 1920s and 1930s did that. This core of Astros has won five of the last six American League West titles. They’ve played in three of the last five World Series. This is a dynasty right before our eyes. We’re witness to greatness. How ‘bout them Astros?

What a season it was. Who could have figured that 39-year-old Justin Verlander, out of action for two seasons after Tommy John surgery, would have a career year, a ridiculously skinny earned run average and the overwhelming pick for the Cy Young Award? Jose Altuve would return to a .300 batting average, Cristian Javier would lead the team in strikeouts, Yordan Alvarez would finish No. 2 between Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in OPS, and rookie Jeremy Pena would slug 22 home runs, the same number as Carlos Correa? Remember last offseason and cries of “pay the man!” Some of a team’s best deals are the ones they don’t make.

Strap yourself in for an October to remember. The storylines are endless. There’s bad blood between the Astros and the Yankees, between the Astros and Dodgers, between the Astros and boo birds in every stadium not named Minute Maid Park.

It’s going to be fun.

As for the Texans, Deshaun Watson returns to action Nov. 4 against the Texans here at NRG Stadium. And we’ll catch up with the Rockets when the NBA season starts for real on Christmas Day. But until then … play ball!

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome