BRAD LIDGE BRINGS THE HEAT

Exclusive: Brad Lidge reveals why Astros have a huge advantage

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We still have no idea if we will even have a 2020 MLB season as baseball's owners and the MLBPA continue their tone-deaf negotiations publicly in the midst of a pandemic and increased racial tensions sweeping the nation.

However, if MLB does prevent itself from driving off a cliff and can strike a deal with its players, the Houston Astros coming off the revelation of the teams 2017 sign-stealing cheating scandal, might actually have a significant advantage according to former Astros All-Star closer Brad Lidge.

"It is absolutely amazing how this thing has played out to the benefit of the Houston Astros players," Brad Lidge said on The Jake Asman Show on Gow Media's SB Nation Radio. "The one thing that I will keep coming back to is, I think collectively we all understand that there are bigger things out there, more important issues. After what everybody in this country has been through, I think it's going to be pretty hard to go out there and boo the players with the same energy had the coronavirus not hit us. I also think because of the fact there are not going to be as many fans in the stands that will also benefit guys."

Lidge does point out that if there are fewer people in the stands in states that might allow fans to attend games at a lower capacity that sometimes you can actually hear a lot more.

"If there are a really few fans, sometimes you can hear those fans more when there is not as much white noise," Lidge said. "But as a general rule, this is a huge blessing for the Houston Astro players. I think the globe has been through a lot more, a lot bigger things than the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal."

While the sports world is no longer focused on the Astros for the time being, Lidge notes that things will change over time.

"It's a huge obviously, egregious foul for the game of baseball but there are bigger more important things right now," Lidge said. "At some point that will be a focus again once baseball gets going."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM-10 AM Central on SB Nation Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Brad Lidge below:


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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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