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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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