Every-Thing Sports

I believe in the Astros, dammit!

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After losing Game One of the ALCS by putting a donut in the run column, a lot of Astros fans panicked. Some blamed Zack Greinke, some blamed the bats, others gave the Yankees too much credit. While they did play well enough to earn that win, there were several instances in which the Astros shot themselves in the foot. Game Two came along and fans were happy because Justin Verlander was on the mound. Verlander pitched 6 2/3 innings, only giving up two runs, and deserved to have won that game. The team won 3-2 thanks to Carlos Correa's walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, but Verlander got a no decision.

With the series tied 1-1 and headed to the Bronx for the next three games, there's still reason for optimism. Despite the poor performances at the plate by the lineup, despite the bullpen concerns, despite not having faith in anyone not named Verlander or Gerrit Cole, I still believe in this team's chances to win, dammit! And here's why:

Correa's home run was a spark

Going back to Correa's home run, I think it sparks something for this team. Moments like this can galvanize a team and start a movement. Remember back in 2017 when "Club Astros" was a thing? Remember how loose this team played? Right now, they're more the hunted than the hunters. The pressure has built up and it may be getting to them, especially given how tight they seem to be at the plate. Maybe Correa's walk-off (with the ensuing antics) are a way to light a fire underneath this team? Don't be surprised to see the dugout get more lively and/or better, more loose plate appearances.

Aaron Boone panicked

In Game Two, I think Yankee's manager Aaron Boone panicked. He pulled starter James Paxton after 2 1/3 innings pitched and proceeded to use eight more pitchers the rest of the way. A couple of those guys were/are potential Game Four starters, or they're reliable bullpen arms who were called into duty too soon. Their bullpen is better than what the Astros have, but they're tired out early in this series, advantage Astros. If Boone continues to manage scared to lose, again, advantage Astros.

Cole > Luis Severino in Game Three

Severino was quoted as saying he's not nervous about facing off against Cole in Game Three and having to outduel him (I'm paraphrasing here). He thinks that all he has to do is match what Cole does. Mind you, Severino has only pitched in three games since returning from injury. Sure he was their ace to start this season, but at 25 years old with only a handful of experience, do we really think he can hang with Cole? Answer: HELL NAH! The Astros haven't lost a Cole start since Prohibition. He's either the Cy Young winner this season, or runner-up. Cole had 326 K's this season and 25 in his two postseason starts. Good luck keeping up Luis! (sarcasm font for the humor-impaired).

Injuries

No team was hit harder by the injury bug than the Yankees this season. They had 4,672 guys on their roster miss time due to injury this season. The Astros were bit by the injury bug as well, but not as bad. That being said, I think the Yankees have a Mr. Glass feel to them. They're the more injury-prone team of the two. While they embodied the "next man up" mentality this season, the Astros did as well. The difference lies in the fact that one of their biggest bats (Giancarlo Stanton) missed Game Two because of a right quadricep strain and is day to day, while the Astros biggest injury concern this past season just won Game Two via walk-off. Again, advantage Astros.

Managerial Experience

AJ Hinch > Brett Boone. There it is. I'm done with this section. If you need further explanation, seek help elsewhere because I don't have the crayons or enough three-line kindergarten paper to explain this to you.

Bottom line here folks: while the Yankees appear to have flipped homefield advantage by winning Game One, the Astros will #TakeItBack and win at least one or two in the Bronx. I'm calling it now: Astros in six, no more than seven. This team is just too damn good and too loaded to clam up and go home like they did last year against the Red Sox. If they only win every Verlander and Cole starts in this series (or maybe squeak out another), they got this series in the bag. Like I mentioned last week, there's no need to panic. this team is fully capable of winning another World Series. Let's take it one game at a time and keep the faith.

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Home Run Dugout opens this week. Photo courtesy of Home Run Dugout.

The TopGolf of baseball will make its Houston-area debut this week. Home Run Dugout will open its new location in Katy (1220 Grand W. Blvd.) this Thursday, March 30.

Timing the grand opening to the start of the Major League Baseball season is no coincidence. Home Run Dugout aims to do for baseball what TopGolf did for golf and driving ranges or Flight Club did for darts by rethinking a traditional batting cage experience and adding an extensive menu of food and drinks.

Where Home Run Dugout sets itself apart from a regular batting cage is its ground-up, soft toss pitching machine that eliminates the need for batting helmets. It also makes hitting homers easier by limiting the ball’s horizontal movement.

“Now, for the first time, you don’t have to put on a helmet. You don’t have to get in an enclosure. You don’t have to worry about getting hit with the ball,” co-founder Nick Hermandorfer told CultureMap Austin in 2019. “You wave your bat over home plate and the ball pops up. You can also program different strike zones and different stadiums.”

Photo courtesy of Home Run Dugout.

The venue features 12 Batting Bays that can accommodate a group of up to 12 people. Available by reservation, each bay features a 20x15-foot screen that projects different baseball stadiums — including Houston’s Minute Maid Park — and five TVs for watching sports. Players may choose from 10 different sizes and styles of bats.

In addition to the Batting Bays, Home Run Dugout offers an outdoor mini field that’s designed for either wiffle ball or kick ball, complete with stadium lights, an outfield net, and a vintage scoreboard. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, the field will eventually host leagues, tournaments, contests, and concerts.

Surrounding the field is a patio and biergarten that seats almost 500 people. Designed to look like the concourse at a baseball stadium, the outdoor seating area features fire pits, Adirondack chairs, and a main dining area with a bar. An indoor, private events space — complete with two Batting Bays and a dedicated bar — offers room for 65 people.

Food options start with four kinds of hot dogs: Chicago, New York, chili dog, and a classic ballpark. Diners may also opt for crispy chicken sliders, smoked chicken wings, salads, flatbreads, burgers, or other sandwiches.

Continue on CultureMap to learn more!

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