Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
After doubling up the A's 10-5 in Game 1 to start the series 1-0, the Astros returned to Dodger Stadium on Tuesday afternoon to try and take a commanding 2-0 lead by staying undefeated in the postseason. Here are the highlights from ALDS Game 2:
Final Score: Astros 5, A's 2.
Series: HOU leads 2-0.
Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez.
Losing Pitcher: Sean Manaea.
The balls keep flying out of Dodger Stadium
The baseball continued to fly out of Dodger Stadium surprisingly well in ALDS Game 2, as found out by George Springer, who followed a ball off the bat of Khris Davis over the center-field wall in the bottom of the second to give Oakland a 1-0 lead. Luckily for the Astros, they were able to take advantage themselves, as Springer would launch one of his own, a two-run dinger with two outs in the top of the third to give Houston their first lead of the day at 2-1.
#SpringerDinger for the lead. pic.twitter.com/i9JKFVqsra
— MLB (@MLB) October 6, 2020
Michael Brantley led the top of the fourth off with a double, moved to third on a one-out Kyle Tucker single, then scored on an RBI-groundout by Carlos Correa. That made it a two-run game at 3-2, though Chad Pinder would cut it back to one run with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning.
Springer homers again while Valdez impresses again
In the top of the fifth, Martin Maldonado would knock Sean Manaea out of the game with a one-out solo homer to make it a two-run game again at 4-2. Oakland would bring in Yusmeiro Petit, who Springer would meet with his second home run of the game on the at-bat's first pitch, pushing the lead to 5-2.
What we knew: Astros landed on the moon. #ForTheH pic.twitter.com/coUa2vu2yC
— Houston Astros (@astros) October 6, 2020
Meanwhile, Framber Valdez was again proving himself to be the best starter the Astros have going right now. Besides the two solo home runs, he limited the A's to just three other hits while walking only one batter over seven impressive innings. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2 HR, 103 P.
Houston's in the driver's seat
That left six outs for Houston's bullpen to cover and hold on to the three-run lead. After two perfect innings in Game 1, Enoli Paredes would make it back-to-back days on the mound in relief and retire Oakland 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth.
In the bottom of the ninth, still 5-2, Ryan Pressly came in for the chance at another save against the top of Oakland's lineup. After a shaky start to the inning, Pressly would erase a leadoff single, finishing off the win which put the Astros ahead 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS.
Up Next: ALDS Game 3 will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 2:35 PM Central. The Astros will play as the home team, while the A's will switch to batting first as visitors. Neither team has announced their starters for Games 3 or beyond.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.