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

Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Jose Altuve went 2-for-5 with a solo home run in ALCS Game 3

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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More changes are coming in MLB. Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images.

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Corbin Carroll just got a little more dangerous. Same for Bobby Witt Jr., Elly De La Cruz and the rest of baseball's fastest players.

Major League Baseball wants umpires to crack down on obstruction, and the commissioner's office outlined plans during a call with managers this week. MLB staff also will meet managers in person during spring training to go over enforcement.

The increased emphasis is only on the bases and not at home plate. The focus is on infielders who drop a knee or leg down in front of a bag while receiving a throw, acting as a deterrence for aggressive baserunning and creating an increased risk of injuries.

“I think with everything, they’re trying to make the game a little safer to avoid some unnecessary injuries," Phillies shortstop Trea Turner said Friday at the team's facility in Florida. “The intentions are always good. It comes down to how it affects the players and the games. I’m sure there will be plays where one team doesn’t like it or one team does.”

With more position players arriving at spring training every day, the topic likely will come up more and more as teams ramp up for the season.

“We'll touch on that. We'll show them some video of what’s good and what’s not,” Texas Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “You know, it’s going to be a little adjustment.”

Making obstruction a point of emphasis fits in with an ongoing effort by MLB to create more action. Obstruction calls are not reviewable, which could lead to some disgruntled players and managers as enforcement is stepped up, but it also means it won't create long replay deliberations.

A package of rule changes last season — including pitch clocks, bigger bases and limits on defensive shifts and pickoff attempts — had a dramatic effect. There were 3,503 stolen bases in the regular season, up from 2,486 in 2022 and the most since 1987.

MLB changed a different baserunning rule this offseason, widening the runner’s lane approaching first base to include a portion of fair territory. MLB also shortened the pitch clock with runners on base by two seconds to 18 and further reducing mound visits in an effort to speed games.

“Last year, you know, a lot of our preparation was around like, especially just the unknown of the clock and making sure like we’re really buttoned up on that," New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "These guys are so used to it in so many ways that sometimes I even forget.”

Increased enforcement could lead to more action on the basepaths. But a significant element of MLB's motivation is injury prevention.

Top players have hurt hands or wrists on headfirst slides into bases blocked by a fielder. White Sox slugger Luis Robert Jr. sprained his left wrist when he slid into Jonathan Schoop's lower left leg on a steal attempt during an August 2022 game against Detroit.

“It’s been happening for a while. It’s been getting out of control," Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I know some of the players complained about it the last two years.”

While acknowledging his reputation as a significant offender, Phillies second baseman Bryson Stott didn't sound too worried about his play.

“We like to fight for outs at second base,” he said. "It’s never on purpose, blocking the base. For me, or someone covering second to the shortstop side, it’s a natural move for your knee to go down to reach the ball. It’s never intentional. I guess we’ll figure out how to maneuver around that.”

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