Every-Thing Sports

Astros lose, but no need to panic

photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Astros dropped Game 3 of the ALDS to the Rays by a score of 10-3. Former Astros pitcher Charlie Morton gave up a home run to Jose Altuve in the top of the first inning. He had to throw 52 pitches to get out of the first two innings. After that he settled down. Morton's settling coincided with Zack Greinke's unraveling.

He was about to cruise through the first two innings, then a three-run homer in the bottom of the second started the slide. He left the game with one out in the bottom of the fourth. Greinke gave up six earned runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Although he had only thrown 61 pitches, it was time for him to come out of the game. No use in allowing him to keep going despite a low pitch count because it just wasn't his day as the Rays had his number.

This was just a blip on the radar. Some may see this as a sign that the Greinke trade was a bad move. Others will suggest it shows the Astros can only rely on Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. Some will point out the bullpen gave up four runs themselves and can't be counted on either. Here's why I'm not worried:

Starting staff still a three-headed monster

Despite Greinke's poor showing, he still maintained a low pitch count. Five of the six runs he gave up were via homerun. Three of his 61 pitches happened to have been hit really hard and/or missed their location. There's not another team in the playoffs with a 1-2-3 punch like the Astros have. Some may have a good staff, but none compares.

Home cooking

The Astros won the right to have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs because of their 107-55 regular season record. They were 60-21 at home, and 47-34 on the road. Winning 58% of your road games means you'll drop a few here and there. As long as they're alive in the playoffs, they'll play more home games than road games. Couple that with setting up their starters to pitch those home games and crucial road games will give them a decided advantage.

The lineup

The lineup won't continue to slip up and not produce run support for the the pitching staff. Altuve doubled in the top of the third and was stranded there. The score at that time was 3-1 Rays. If Altuve gets knocked in and maybe a couple others get hits, it could've changed the outcome of the game. There's been a few times in which the lineup didn't support the pitching staff this season, but they were few and far in between. One should expect the same thing in the postseason.

I had a conversation with a couple good friends last weekend about the Astros postseason potential. One asked who'd we rather see them play in the ALDS and if we had a preference. I said "IDGAF who they play because they only need 11 more wins to win another ring!" With two of those 11 wins secured, let's look forward to number three, four, five, and so on. They're nine wins away from the ultimate prize. Let's not lose focus on the ask at hand simply because they dropped a game to an oppnent on the road in a place where they've had trouble. Game 4 is still on the road, but Verlander is pitching. I like their chances of advancing to the ALCS that game.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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