The Astros are one win away from the AL pennant

Astros playoff report presented by APG&E: Houston takes commanding 3-1 ALCS lead with Game 4 win

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros are now one win away from advancing to the World Series. Houston took ALCS Game 4 against the Yankees in New York on Thursday, winning 8-3 with big home runs from George Springer and Carlos Correa. The win comes after taking the first of three games in the Bronx on Tuesday before inclement weather postponed Game 4 from Wednesday to Thursday. The victory is the third straight for the Astros after falling 0-1 in the series with a Game 1 loss. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 8, Yankees 3.

Series: Astros lead 3-1.

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly.

Losing Pitcher: Masahiro Tanaka.

Springer connects for a huge home run early

Houston's offense would get out to a slow start in ALCS Game 4, going without a hit in the first two innings against Masahiro Tanaka before putting together a big third. Robinson Chirinos started the inning with a walk, and then Josh Reddick followed with a single to put two on base. That flipped the order over, back to George Springer, who would take advantage of the baserunners with a three-run home run to give Houston a 3-1 lead.

Greinke turns early trouble into a decent start

Zack Greinke was in trouble early in ALCS Game 4. After a four-pitch walk to start the bottom of the first, he would go on to allow a one-out single then two-out walk to load the bases. His struggles with the strike zone continued, issuing a bases-loaded walk to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.

He would recover and settle in over the following innings, allowing just one baserunner through the second, third, and fourth innings. In the bottom of the fifth, he allowed a one-out single before a missed strike call by the home plate umpire turned into an eventual walk to Aaron Judge. With the go-ahead run coming to the plate, A.J. Hinch would call on his bullpen to bring in Ryan Pressly to finish the inning.

Pressly would issue a walk to load the bases before getting huge back-to-back strikeouts to strand all three runners and maintain Houston's 3-1 lead. It also put Greinke's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 0 HR.

Correa blows it open for another big ALCS moment as Astros pull away

In the top of the sixth, a leadoff error put Alex Bregman on board and ended Tanaka's night. First out of New York's bullpen was Chad Green, who allowed a one-out single to Yordan Alvarez to put two runners on base. That set up the second three-run home run of the night, this time by Carlos Correa, giving him another big scoring hit in this ALCS and pushing Houston's lead to 6-1.

With the five-run lead, the Astros turned to Josh James for the bottom of the sixth. He would throw six straight balls to start his appearance, issuing a walk before giving up a two-run home run to cut the lead to 6-3. He would eventually get through the inning, sending the 6-3 game to the seventh. Will Harris took over in the bottom of the seventh and was able to retire the Yankees 1-2-3 in a quick frame. In the top of the eighth, the Astros re-extended their lead after a leadoff double by Alex Bregman, who moved to third and then scored on back-to-back defensive errors on groundballs by the Yankees, making it a four-run game.

Joe Smith was the next reliever out for Houston in the bottom of the eighth, but after two outs would have an error put a runner on second, prompting a call to bring in Roberto Osuna to try and cover four outs. Osuna would get the final out to finish off the eighth, then in the top of the ninth, Michael Brantley would hit a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 8-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Osuna returned and finished off the win with a scoreless inning.

Up Next: Game 5, initially scheduled for Thursday night, will get started on Friday at 6:08 PM Central. With the postponement of Wednesday's game shifting Games 4 and 5 back a day, it allows a pitching matchup of Justin Verlander for Houston going up against James Paxton, a rematch of Game 2. Verlander will look to repeat or improve upon his success in that game where he went 6.2 innings of two-run baseball, while Paxton was removed after 2.1 innings where he allowed a run on four hits. With a win, Houston will advance to their second World Series in three years.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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