Every-Thing Sports

I believe in the Astros, dammit!

Astros Gerrit Cole
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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We're thinking they're back! Composite Getty Image.

Coming off an impressive three-game sweep of the Orioles, the Astros finally look like they've turned a corner as they are only two games under .500 with the lowly Rockies coming to town for a two game set this week.

Houston's offense appears to be firing on all cylinders, and the insertion of Mauricio Dubon and Joey Loperfido in the everyday lineup seems to be paying huge dividends

Dubon has now started in fourteen straight games, and Loperfido has been in the lineup in every game since rejoining the team. Manager Joe Espada has done a nice job of riding the hot hand, and knowing when to give players a day off. Both Dubon and Lopefido should be penciled in the lineup regularly, at least until Kyle Tucker returns from injury.

Jeremy Pena is a perfect example of Espada seeing a player struggling and giving him a day off to help get him back on track. The results speak for themselves, as Pena was crushing baseballs over the weekend instead of swinging at sliders in the dirt.

And let's not forget to credit the pitching. Hunter Brown looks like a dominate top of the rotation starter, Ronel Blanco should be an All-Star, and Framber Valdez may have had his best performance of the season on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see how they navigate the starting rotation with only four healthy starters currently on the team. Justin Verlander reportedly still hasn't resumed baseball activities.

Shawn Dubin could also be an option should they need him to make a start. Hopefully, Luis Garcia will be ready to go in late July because the Astros have several pitchers that will be asked to throw more innings than ever before.

Addition by subtraction

It's hard not to notice how well the team has played with Jose Abreu out of the picture. The club is 7-2 since they parted ways with Abreu, and the squad has a much younger and more athletic feel with Loperfido and Dubon consistently playing.

While we certainly can't blame all the team's struggles on Abreu, they appear to be playing with a different energy now. Look no further than Loperfido's amazing catch in the first inning of the opener against Baltimore. That play ended up setting the tone for the entire series.

What should we expect from the red-hot 'Stros moving forward? Be sure to watch the video above to hear the full conversation!

Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and Charlie Pallilo discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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