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. 

Houston Astros/Facebook

The Astros had a bad 4-6 road trip and looked forward to getting home to Minute Maid Park where they have been dominant this season. The pitiful Detroit Tigers arrived in Houston with a record since the All Star Break of nine wins and 27 losses. They literally do not have one non-pitcher who would make a healthy Astros' roster. That includes the way over the hill sure fire Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera. Splitting four games at home with the Tigers would have been a fail. The Astros did not fail, though "only" taking three out of four seems a little disappointing. The S.S. Astros Good Ship Lollipop has sprung a couple of leaks. Neither that can't be plugged with good health, but the Astros have two notable health issues.

Carlos Correa's next endorsement deal should be for peanut brittle, emphasis not on the peanut. Some guys just have a propensity toward getting injured. Unfortunately the Correa resume grows that he is one of those guys. That back problems have resurfaced is troubling, to no one more so than Correa himself. It's clear the guy loves the game and is spectacularly talented, but durability is one component of greatness and to this point Correa simply has not demonstrated durability. If he can't produce a fully healthy bigtime season or two in the next year or two, any visions of a Manny Machado-like 10 year 300 million dollar contract will be up in smoke. Still, Correa turns only 25 years old next month so there's time to prove sturdiness, but more sand has seeped through the hourglass. For the 2019 Astros the dropdown is huge from Correa at shortstop to either Miles Straw or Aledmys Diaz being in the lineup. As for 2020, please tell anyone saying the Astros should trade Correa to be quiet.

The loss of Ryan Pressly for most if not all of the rest of the regular season is a big blow to the bullpen. Of even bigger concern is whether he can get back and get sharp to start the postseason.

This doesn't mean the ship is sinking. The Astros enter the weekend just one game behind the Yankees for the best record in the American League, and the Astros own the tiebreaker (having won the season series 4-3). They are three back of the Dodgers for best in MLB, the Astros have a three game lead in the tiebreaker with LA (intradivision record). The Yankees play at the Dodgers this weekend so if you're a glass half full person: a Dodger or Yankee loss is guaranteed three days in a row! If you're glass half empty: a Dodger or Yankee win is guaranteed three days in a row!

NFL on the horizon

A little over 2 weeks until the Texans begin their 18th season of play in the National Football League. We've all heard the saying, the 18th time is the charm. So is this the season the Texans are finally a legitimate Super Bowl contender? Probably not. The Texans do not look like a notably improved football team. On paper their schedule is clearly more difficult than last season's. Within the AFC the Chiefs clearly have more overall talent and are better coached. The Patriots still exist. One of these years Tom Brady really will slip. Maybe at age 42 this is the season.

If Jadeveon Clowney opts to sit out, or is traded, anyone thinking he won't be missed, is wrong. Clowney is not a superstar but he's really good. The Texans will be easier to run on without him. And while not an elite pass rusher, Clowney has to be accounted for. Anyone thinking, ah, he's hurt all the time anyway…wrong again. Clowney missed one game last season, and the season before that he played in every game.

If you want a couple of reasons for plausible optimism, here you go. Coming off of last season Deshaun Watson does not rate as one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the NFL. He could well vault into that echelon this season. The Texans' offensive line remains something between a question mark and a glaring weakness, but really, can it be worse than it was the last couple of seasons? DeAndre Hopkins is about as good as it gets today at wide receiver, the same for J.J. Watt at defensive end though the clock is ticking down on his prime.

The Texans probably begin their season by losing at New Orleans. On the other hand the Buccaneers started their 5-11 2018 season by beating the 13-3 to be Saints in New Orleans.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Connor McGregor pitches some "number 12" brand of whisky. As a human being he seems much more a piece of number two. 2. Two peas in a pitching pod: Justin Verlander 15-5, 2.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts. Gerrit Cole 15-5, 2.75 ERA, 238 strikeouts. 3. Worst tasting vegetables: Bronze-kale Silver-peas Gold-lima beans


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