ALDS Game 3

It's a sweep! Astros offense destroys Indians 11-3 to claim spot in ALCS

Carlos Correa (left) had a rare hit, and Marwin Gonzalez had another big hit. Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Astros are headed back to the ALCS in back-to-back seasons thanks to an offensive barrage in the late innings of Monday's ALDS Game 3, crushing the Indians 11-3 and moving on to face the winner of the Yankees and Red Sox series. 

The game was tight early, with both Dallas Keuchel and Mike Clevinger giving up an early run, but Houston's offense would be too much for Cleveland late, with George Springer hitting two solo home runs, Carlos Correa a three-run homer, and Marwin Gonzalez getting more clutch RBIs as the Astros clobbered the Indians to take the series.

The Astros had the chance to bat first in their first playoff game on the road on Monday afternoon, which Alex Bregman took advantage of with a two-out double off the wall for the first hit of the day. He would get left there, though, as the first stranded runner of the game after a strikeout by Mike Clevinger. Dallas Keuchel took the mound in the bottom of the inning and was able to induce three groundouts to end the inning. 

After back-to-back strikeouts to begin the second inning, Clevinger issued a two-out walk to Carlos Correa, but he too would be stranded after a groundout for the third out. Yandy Diaz gave Cleveland their first hit of the day with a two-out double in the bottom of the inning, but Keuchel was able to get another groundout to keep the game scoreless. 

Tony Kemp, filling in as DH, worked a leadoff walk to start the third inning, then moved to second on a pickoff attempt that bounced into foul territory. Jose Altuve came through with a one-out single to put runners on the corners, setting up Bregman for another big moment. Instead, Bregman was hit by a pitch, loading the bases with one out, but Clevinger would work out of the jam with a strikeout and lineout to end the threat. In the bottom of the inning, the Indians would get after Keuchel with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning, then both advanced on a groundball. That led a to a sac fly by Michael Brantley to score the first run of the afternoon and put the Indians ahead 1-0 before Keuchel got out of the inning. 

The fourth inning went down quietly, with the Astros going down in order in the top half, and Keuchel working around a one-out walk in the bottom half to keep it a 1-0 score. George Springer came through in the fifth, launching a one-out solo home run to tie the game 1-1, but Francisco Lindor would answer right back in the bottom half with a solo shot of his own off of Keuchel to give the Indians a one-run lead again at 2-1. 

In the top of the sixth, Josh Reddick got on base with a one-out single off of Trevor Bauer who was first out of the Indians' bullpen but would be another runner left on base after Bauer got through the inning unscathed. The Astros went to their bullpen as well in the bottom of the inning, bringing in Collin McHugh, who provided another strong inning in relief, putting Cleveland down in order including two big strikeouts. 

Kemp got his first hit of the day on the first pitch of the seventh, lasering a ball into right field for a leadoff single and just like in the third inning was able to move to second on a bad pickoff attempt. George Springer was next and reached on a slow infield ground ball that allowed him to get to first without a play, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Altuve was next and was able to score Kemp on a groundball that was nearly a double play, but Altuve's speed allowed him to beat it out and made it a tie game again. Bregman was up next and also nearly hit into a double play, but ended up safe after Bauer would be unable to make the throw to get any outs.

Yuli Gurriel worked a walk next, loading the bases for Marwin Gonzalez who played the hero yet again, another opposite-field knock, this time batting right and hitting it to the left-field corner for a double, scoring two runs to give the Astros their first lead of the game, 4-2, and ending Bauer's day. Andrew Miller was next out for the Indians and faced two batters, getting a fly out and walk to load the bases again before Cleveland went to Cody Allen to face pinch-hitting Tyler White, who struck out to leave the bases loaded. In the bottom of the inning, McHugh was back on the mound and made it six up, six down with a couple of strikeouts to send the game to the eighth. 

In the top of the eighth, Cody Allen continued in relief but would see the Indian's deficit increased after George Springer hit his second solo homer of the day, extending the lead to 5-2. They'd then load the bases with one out after a double by Altuve, then intentional walks to Bregman and Gurriel to bring up Gonzalez, prompting another pitching change to bring in closer Brad Hand. Gonzalez notched another RBI on the day with a single to make it 6-2, keeping the bases loaded, allowing another run to score on a wild pitch to extend the lead again to 7-2. Carlos Correa, looking to continue building momentum to get hot in the postseason, hit a huge three-run homer to put a nail in the coffin and make it 10-2. Lance McCullers Jr. took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning and worked around a couple of one-out singles with a double play to send the game to the ninth. 

Adam Cimber was the sixth pitcher of the day for Cleveland, taking over in the top of the ninth, and would fall victim to another run by Houston, an RBI single by Alex Bregman to make it 11-2 before he could get three outs. Will Harris took over with the nine-run lead in the bottom of the inning and after allowing a run on a wild pitch to make it 11-3 finally put things away to end the series and send Houston on to the next round. 

Next Up - ALCS Game 1: With the three-game sweep of the Indians, the Astros will get several days off before the ALCS starts. Game 1 of the ALCS is scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 13 and will be on TBS, time TBD. With the days off, it's likely that the Astros will be able to send out a fresh Justin Verlander for Game 1, but pitching matchups will likely be announced later in the week. The Astros will get to sit back and watch the Red Sox and Yankees do battle, with their series going at least to a Game 4 since the series is currently tied 1-1 with their Game 3 tonight. If the Red Sox win, the Astros will head to Boston for ALCS Game 1, while the Astros would host Game 1 if the Yankees win. 

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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