Barry's View

Off the top of my bald head: How the Astros got here

Young starst Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa helped get the Astros here. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Offense sells tickets. Defense and pitching wins you games. Or in the Astros case, a trip to the World Series for the second time in franchise history.

Catches by George Springer and double play were just part of the outstanding play in the field.  But the one that will be etched in the minds of baseball fans for ages came in the top of the fifth. With the Astros leading 1-0, the Yankees put runners on first and third to threaten against Charlie Morton, who had been dominant for the first four innings. Morton got Todd Frazier to hit a weak grounder to the third baseman Alex Bregman, slow enough that it seemed certain to score Greg Bird from third base.

But Bird had ankle surgery this summer, and runs like he is carrying a sack of concrete on his back. Bregman had the presence of mind and stones to throw home, without any hesitation, instead of going for a sure out at first or second. The uber confident third baseman with  great hands, made a perfect throw to Brian McCann who tagged the runner out, getting spiked in the arm.

In the wet and wild clubhouse the former first round pick from LSU said he had no doubt that throwing home and eschewing the sure out at first was the right move.

“I knew if it wasn’t a missile, or a ball I could turn two on, I was going to the plate immediately,” Bregman said. “It was huge. It gave us some momentum.”

The Yankees went 0-4 in Minute Maid, scoring just three runs.

Owner Jim Crane and the  Computer Chip GM Jeff Luhnow, deserve huge props, along with Hinch. It was not just for drafting the young talent, but signing veterans like McCann, Carlos Beltran and Josh I will hit against my former Dodger teammates Reddick.

But the last second deal near midnight Aug. 31 to land Verlander put the Astros in the World Series was off the charts. It tops the Randy Johnson trade orchestrated by GM Gerry Hunsicker, now a Dodger consultant.

Unbeaten as an Astro, the former Tiger was brilliant. starting twice and coming up huge both times. In Game 2 on Oct. 14, he threw a 124-pitch complete game as the Astros won 2-1 to take a 2-0 series lead.

And then in Game 6, with Houston facing elimination, Verlander threw seven shutout innings as the Astros beat the Yanks, 7-1, to even the ALCS at three victories apiece and force Saturday's Game 7. Morton and Lance Mc Cullers combined for a three hit shutout, To sum up Verlander's contribution check out the numbers. Two ALCS starts: two victories, a 0.56 ERA, 21 strikeouts and just two walks in 16 innings.

Verlander waived his no-trade clause to come to the Astros because he saw it as a chance to join a team that had an opportunity to win a championship. So far, so good. He said he'll remember Friday's game for a long time.

"Yesterday was one of the best moments of my career, plain and simple," said Verlander, who will get the ball in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night. "To come back home after being on the road, and to be able to keep these guys off the board for seven innings and be able to come away the winning pitcher ...

"When you're in the backyard as a kid, those are the moments that you create in your head. And to be able to succeed in those moments, I mean, it's the most fulfilling thing you can do."

Verlander finally got the meet Nolan Ryan, his boyhood hero. Then in the locker room celebration, picked up the MVP Award for the series.

 I texted Crane after the game to congratulate him on getting to the World Series. His response “thanks but four more to go then we will have done something,”speaks loud and clear to the laser focus of winning for the Houston Strong Fans.

The Houston Astrosthe butt of every baseball joke just a few years ago, are going to the World Series. There are a lot of reasons for this. They had to lose so many games that they were able to draft Carlos Correa before anyone else. They had to scout, secure, and develop Jose Altuve. 

The storied Dodger franchise has not been to a World Series since 1988.  Houstonian Andrew Friedman who as a teenager waited outside Galleria hotels for autographs, went from Wall Street to the Tampa Rays.  He left the lowest payroll for the highest in the majors.  Like Luhnow, he is a big on Moneyball and relies heavily on analytics. His bold move was the deal with the Rangers for Yu Darvish

There is good news and bad news as I look at the series.  First, the bad news for Astro fans.  There will be no celebration at Minute Maid.

In the words of former Rocket coach Rudy T “never underestimate the heart of a champion.”

The good news, they will win in Game 7 in Chavez Ravine.


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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.

Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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