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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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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