Gerrit Cole and Jose Altuve lifted Houston to big road win

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Astros take ALCS Game 3 for 2-1 series lead

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros come out on top in ALCS Game 3 with a 4-1 win in New York against the Yankees. Houston received seven shutout innings from Gerrit Cole and a big offensive day from Jose Altuve, who was 2-for-5 with a solo home run. They now lead the series 2-1 and need two more wins to advance to the World Series.

After falling behind 0-1 in the ALCS, Houston worked a home split against New York with a walk-off win in ALCS Game 2. The series shifted to New York for the next three games, giving the Yankees a chance to benefit from playing in front of their home crowd. Here is a recap of Game 3 from Yankee Stadium:

Final Score: Astros 4, Yankees 1.

Series: Astros lead 2-1.

Winning Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Losing Pitcher: Luis Severino.

Altuve and Reddick give Astros an early lead

In the top of the first inning against Luis Severino, the Astros received a big hit to try and keep the crowd out of the game. It came off the bat of Jose Altuve, who launched a one-out solo home run to left-center field to give Houston the quick 1-0 lead. They would continue to pester Luis Severino in the first, loading the bases before all three runners would be stranded to end the half-inning.

In the top of the second, Josh Reddick doubled Houston's lead with a solo home run to right field to make it 2-0. While after the first inning, it looked as though the Astros would be able to push Severino to an early exit, New York's pitcher would settle in well and make it through four and one-third innings before the Yankees went to their bullpen.

Cole goes seven scoreless innings

Meanwhile, Gerrit Cole was not able to put together his typically dominant pitching against the powerful Yankees lineup. New York, like the Astros, would load the bases in the first inning, but Cole would end the threat to strand all three. That would be one of several frames that Cole would have to deal with traffic, as he would allow five walks and four hits over the first five innings.

He would follow those five stressful innings with two terrific ones, though, retiring the last seven batters he faced in order including 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh. While he didn't reach double-digit strikeouts as he had over his last eleven starts, it was still as, if not more, impressive of a start when it hit the scoreboard: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 7 K, 0 HR.

Houston extends their lead and pulls out Game 3 win 

Houston was able to add on to their lead by playing "small ball" in the top of the seventh. George Springer started the inning with a leadoff walk, then moved to third on a well-executed hit and run with Jose Altuve. Michael Brantley would hit a groundball next to cause a force out of Springer at home, but not before Springer could stall long enough to let Altuve advance to third and Brantley to second. An intentional walk to Alex Bregman loaded the bases, then a wild pitch scored one run before a sacrifice fly by Yuli Gurriel scored another, doubling Houston's advantage to 4-0.

After Cole's seven innings, Joe Smith would be the first reliever on the mound for Houston at the bottom of the eighth. He would allow a one-out solo home run to Gleyber Torres, resulting in another call to the bullpen to bring in Will Harris, who would finish the inning. The Astros then turned to their closer, Roberto Osuna, to preserve the three-run lead and get a save. He would come through, getting a scoreless inning to finish off the win.

Up Next: Currently, ALCS Game 4 is slated for Wednesday at 7:08 PM Central. However, rain threatens that time with a possible postponement in the works to move the game to Thursday and move Game 5 to Friday. With the game day and time up in the air, so is the expected pitching matchup. Should the game be played tomorrow, both teams are expected to have a bullpen day, with the Astros looking to Jose Urquidy for at least part of that. If the MLB postpones the game until Thursday, that opens the opportunity for a rematch of Game 1 between Zack Greinke and Masahiro Tanaka, should the two managers go that route.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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