Astros lose, but no need to panic
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.
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 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.