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.

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This would be huge for Houston sports fans. Composite image by Jack Brame.

To say it's been a rough few months for Houston sports fans would be an understatement. The Rockets came up short in the NBA playoffs yet again. They followed that up by trading their superstars James Harden and Russell Westbrook within weeks of each other. The Texans are in complete disarray following a 4-12 season. They've fired Bill O'Brien, hired Nick Caserio, and managed to alienate, allegedly, franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. Westbrook was supposedly tired of the culture Harden was allowed to perpetuate and wanted out. Harden grew weary of not winning and decided he wanted out. Watson is apparently, allegedly, tired of the way things are being run on Kirby and is using his leverage to force a trade. But there's one star in the area who's ready to fully commit to staying.

Recently, Astros star shortstop Carlos Correa said he wants to stay in Houston long term. When one hears this from Correa, there's a few things that come to mind. First: was this merely a reactionary statement based off the recent exodus of stars? One can't help but to be skeptical given the fact that Correa is seen as a potential star in MLB that could be looking for a mega deal in a huge TV market. However, one's profile as a pro athlete is based off their play and social media presence rather than the city they play in, this can be seen as wanting to take advantage of some good will in the city he's under contract in and has built a reputation in. Smart move.

Secondly, Correa's statement can also be seen as a preemptive strike to James Click, the Astros general manager. While George Springer opted for greener pastures in Toronto, Click was able to bring back Michael Brantley. Justin Verlander is out for his final season under contract, but this team may still have enough left to compete. If Click is able to bring back Correa on a long term deal, that will go a long way to proving to the fans that he's truly committed to keeping the title hopes alive past this season.

Ultimately, I see Correa as trying to fulfill his role he's assumed since the cheating scandal was exposed over a year ago. Jim Crane castrated the franchise by firing AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow, then forcing his players to apologize for something every team was doing. Ever since then, Correa has assumed the mantle as team leader/spokesman. He's been the one to speak out on behalf of the team and defend their honor throughout this whole process. He's been the one to step up to the plate and answer the tough questions. By Correa saying he wants to stay in Houston long term, it reiterates his willingness to put his reputation on the line and forgo possible financial gain in the future for cementing himself as a Houston legend. There's something to be said about a player who forgoes potentially higher financial gain in order to stay where he's beloved. Correa will make generational wealth either way. But what will make him a legend here is choosing to stay in Houston over greener pastures because he believes in what this city and franchise has going. Long live Carlos Correa!

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