Houston moves on

Astros advance to fifth-straight ALCS after taking ALDS Game 4 in Chicago

Houston's offense backed up strong pitching in ALDS Game 4 to punch their ticket to the ALCS. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With the disappointing loss in Game 3 and an extra day to think about it due to a rainout on Monday, the Astros were likely anxious to turn the page to Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday afternoon. They indeed played to their strengths, overcoming an early run by the White Sox by scoring seven unanswered to dominate the game and finishing off the series to advance to the ALCS.

Final Score: Astros 10, White Sox 1

ALDS Series (Best of Five): Houston wins 3-1

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Carlos Rodon

Chicago scores first, but Houston pulls away

After a scoreless first inning, the White Sox, thanks to Gavin Sheets, tried to grab the momentum in the bottom of the second. Sheets launched a one-out solo homer against Lance McCullers Jr., who, despite a two-out walk, would still rebound to keep the damage to one run in the frame. Houston's offense responded in the top of the third, getting to Carlos Rodon, who looked dominant with high velocity in the first inning but started to fade.

The rally that inning started on a one-out hit-by-pitch to Altuve by Rodon, followed by two-out walks to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. Carlos Correa, who continues to thrive in the spotlight, put Houston in front with a two-RBI double, making it 1-2. After a scoreless bottom of the third by McCullers Jr., the Astros offense tacked on three more with another multi-run inning in the fourth, getting an RBI single by Martin Maldonado and a two-RBI double by Alex Bregman, pulling away at 5-1.

Houston's starter had his longest inning in the bottom of the fourth, using up 26 pitches but keeping the White Sox at bay by erasing a leadoff single with a double play, then stranding a two-out double and walk. That would be the end of the line for him, as Dusty Baker would make the early switch to his bullpen starting in the bottom of the fifth. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 73 P.

Houston's bullpen holds as more insurance runs come in

Houston's first reliever was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fifth, sitting down the White Sox in order, keeping the lead at four runs. Michael Brantley added another insurance run in the top of the sixth, scoring Chas McCormick, who led things off with a single. Phil Maton took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning, and like Garcia in the frame prior, was able to get through it in 1-2-3 fashion.

In the bottom of the seventh, Maton remained in the game, getting two outs before allowing a two-out single, prompting a move to Ryne Stanek. Stanek would get the third out on four pitches, then Jose Altuve hustled to another run for Houston in the top of the eighth. He reached and advanced to second on an error, then took third on a wild pitch. That set up the RBI for Brantley, who singled up the middle to make it a six-run game at 7-1.

Astros advance to the ALCS

Kendall Graveman had the eighth for Houston's bullpen, and after a two-out hit-by-pitch and lengthy fallout from it from Tony La Russa, was able to get through a scoreless inning. Altuve put the exclamation point on the blowout in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of two on base against Liam Hendricks by crushing a 416-foot three-run home to make it 10-1.

With two days off in front of them, the Astros put in their closer, Ryan Pressly, in the bottom of the ninth to close things out. Despite a leadoff single, he would get through it and maintain the nine-run lead, giving Houston the series victory. The Astros become the third franchise to reach five league championships in a row, joining the A's in the 1970s and the Braves in the 1990s.

Up Next: With the Red Sox upsetting the Rays in their ALDS, the Astros will have home-field advantage in the ALCS, with Game 1 on Friday and Game 2 on Saturday being hosted at Minute Maid Park. The start times and pitching matchups for those games will be determined in the coming days.

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How much does it cost to attend an Astros baseball game?

According to the just released 2023 Team Marketing Report of Fan Cost, a family of four has to shell out $343.72 at Minute Maid Park to catch a game. That’s the third-highest price tag in all of Major League Baseball, trailing only the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

This cost analysis data is courtesy of Sporting Post and runs a tab of four “non-premium” tickets, four hot dogs, two small beers, two small soft drinks, two team hats and one parking space.

Sporting Post put the average price for Astros tickets at $58.61 per person, hot dogs $6 each, small beers $7.50 each, small sodas $5.50 each, Astros caps $24.99 each and parking $9.30.

Let’s crunch the numbers and get real.

I do not sit in the press box with a media pass. I go to games and I pay for tickets. I do not pay $58 for a ticket, however. For example, right now you can go on the Astros website and buy tickets for the June 19th game against the Mets – upper deck behind first base, third row, on the aisle, for $37 each. They’re good seats. And you don’t have to deal with secondary market entrepreneurs.

I don’t need to buy an Astros hat, certainly not a new one each time I go to a game. I have never paid for parking. There’s free parking downtown after 7 p.m. and you can find a space if you’re willing to walk a few blocks. You probably can use the exercise. Plus, unlike some other MLB towns, public transportation will get you near the ballpark.

I buy a hot dog and soda. I know they’re overpriced but a dog and Coke (or beer) are part of the baseball experience. I’m worth it. Fans are allowed to bring food, in reasonable amounts, to Minute Maid Park. Hot dogs supposedly taste best at a ballpark. I’ve never heard that about a tuna fish sandwich. Minute Maid Park is not a high school cafeteria.

I’m not an Astros apologist for their high prices. But …

You want a winning team? Pretty things cost money. It’s the difference between going to dinner at McDonald’s or an upscale steakhouse. The Astros are filet mignon. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for a doggie bag.

Yes, it’s expensive to attend a game at Minute Maid Park, but the Astros are putting out a quality product. They’re the best thing going in Houston. Why stop there? The Astros are the most successful pro sports team in America over the past seven years. You know the numbers: four American League pennants, six ALCS appearances in a row, four World Series appearances and two championships.

You get what you pay for. You want the Astros to sign Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker and Framber Valdez to long-term deals? Those players won’t come cheap.

Signing slugging first baseman Jose Abreu to a three-year deal took a ton of money. OK, bad example. But you get my point.

It’s not like the Astros are printing money with their local TV contract, like the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox. The Dodgers’ deal is worth upwards of $250 million. The Astros deal with AT&T SportsNet is worth about $73 million. For comparison, the Rangers’ local TV deal is worth about $111 million. I get it, the Dallas designated market is larger than Houston, but it’s still annoying when Dallas gets anything bigger or better than us.

Astros fans love their team and show out. The Astros are averaging 37,111 fans so far this year. That’s in the upper echelon of baseball, and 4,000 more fans per game over last year.

According to Forbes, the Astros are worth $2.25 billion (with a B), up 14 percent from 2022. Jim Crane and his support group bought the Astros for $610 million (with an M) in 2011.

The cheapest deal in baseball is offered by the Baltimore Orioles. A family of four can attend an O’s game for $198, according to Sporting Post data.

Now we enter the Bizarro World, or as they call it out west, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The A’s charge the 11th highest prices to attend a game - $240 for a family of four to watch the historically awful A’s lose game after game after game after (tell me when to stop).

On the other hand, you can enjoy quiet private time with your spouse and children in the empty upper deck. The A’s are averaging only 8,600 “fans” per game.

You know me and attendance figures. I’m calling bull on 8,600 fans.

I’m saying more like 5,000 … and I’ll still take the under.

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