Saturday countdown: And then there were two, as in magic number


Astros put three touchdowns on the Arizona Cardinals … I mean Diamondbacks, and now the Magic Number is down to two.

Stupid Rangers.

Thanks, KC.

All the Twins fans here in the Great White North are a little upset with the Astros right now. And now Houston just needs to win out … or have one win with an Angels’ loss … to get that final wild card spot.

Technically, the division is still up for grabs. But that seems like a long shot at this point.

Here’s a couple of things to think about as we face the final two games of the season:

1. Did Dallas Keuchel just put the exclamation point on his Cy Young resume? He’s 20-8, his ERA is 2.48. He’s a Gold Glove-caliber fielder. He’s led a rag-tag bunch toward the playoffs. He’s got a great beard. Is it his?

2. With 22 home runs, Carlos Correa is probably the best rookie in Astros history. Jeff Bagwell, in his ROY season, hit .294/.387/.437 with 15 HRs and 82 RBIs in 156 games. Correa won’t play 100 regular season games, but his numbers are pretty good. His .282 average and .848 OPS compare well with Bagwell. The 22 HRs tops Baggie, but the extra games helped Bagwell outpace Correa in RBIs (67). Who was your favorite Astros rookie of all time?

3. Tonight Collin McHugh takes the mound. His ERA is just under 4.00, but 18-7 is still 18-7. I know wins aren’t the thinking man’s stat, but a win to McHugh tonight puts the Astros one lousy victory away from having two 20-game winners. When was the last time the Astros had a rotation this solid? Probably 2005. I know this isn’t Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte. But I don’t think Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and Ezekiel Astacio really hold a candle to Scott Kazmir, Lance McCullers Jr. and Mike Fiers (or Scott Feldman).

4. If Houston has to go to Yankee Stadium, do you want to see Keuchel on short rest, Kazmir or McCullers? Saving Keuchel for a divisional series Game 1 would be optimal, but you need to get to that game first. Meanwhile, Kazmir has the experience, but McCullers has been pretty amazing at times.

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78 comments on “Saturday countdown: And then there were two, as in magic number

  1. I won’t give up hope that the Rangers could be beaten two more games by a team that has dominated them in Arlington and is still in the race. I won’t give up hope that Houston has a huge amount of road wins saved up. I’ve hoped all year long so two or three more games I think I can handle.

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  2. Tough question if Astros clinch today. I would have to say go with Keuchel because if it’s for all the marbles and you want your best out there. I would pitch Fiers before Kazmir at this point based upon his performance as of late. If/when we get to the divisional series I go with Keuchel, McHugh, McCuellers.

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    • In your scenario, if they clinch today, McCullers wouldn’t pitch until Sunday, October 11th. That’s WAY too much time off for him, IMHO.

      He’s looking sharp now, and his arm is amply rested from earlier in the season. It’s go time NOW for the kid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you on McCuellars. It is wishful thinking if we could line those three up for the divisional series. If we have a playoff (Monday) I assume LMJ would pitch in it. Then it would be Keuchel against the Yankees.
        If there s no playoff, then I would start LMJ against the Yankees on Tuesday. Sure a lot of “IF’S” out there right now.

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  3. I think David Price had a nice season — and will looking up at Keuchel in the Cy Young race. I think a shortstop who drives in runs and has an OPS near .850 is a shoe in.

    I think 2004-05 had a better 1-2-3 in their rotation, but this year’s was a better 4-5.

    And three days rest is a quick turn around when you can have McCullers on the mound and Fiers warming up in the pen just in case.

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  4. I thought McCullers was slated for tomorrow’s game. If that game isn’t a must win, then he’s the probably the man for Tuesday’s game, but that’s a lot of extra rest for the kid. It’s going to be a tough call.

    My opinion is the team is going nowhere in this year’s postseason anyway, so why not give the kid some awesome experience to build on for the future?

    Starting Keuchel on short rest is not ideal for multiple reasons, and relying on Kazmir is a TERRIBLE idea, in all respects.

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  5. Keuchel was gassed last night. If we can avoid throwing him on short rest, by all means I’d rather be in a situation of being able to use McCullers. But, one ballgame at a time. So much can change even today. Or tomorrow.

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  6. It’s been the longest season of most of this team’s life. Assuming they get the wild card and not a play-in game to get the wild card, I would not push Keuchel up. You can then afford to play the game as an everyone in the bullpen is available knowing the Keuchel gets the first divisional round start if you move on. I don’t want to say the pitching is unimportant, but the WC game would really be a good example where the offense needs to show up or we could be in big trouble.

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  7. Personnally, I’m going with McCullers Sunday, no matter what, with one exception: If Scott Kazmir is hurt. If Kazmir is hurt, I might hold McCullers for Tuesday. But LMJ has not pitched against the Yankees.
    If Kazmir is healthy I would pitch him against the Yankees. If he is not, I would pitch Keuchel.
    Only one guy on the Yankees has owned Kazmir and that is Chris Young in five ABs.. But, he owns the Astros, so Kazmir has as good a chance against him as any Astros pitcher.
    If Luhnow and Hinch don’t have enough confidence in Kazmir to pitch him in the WC game, with all his experience, then why would they want to resign him. This is why we traded for Kazmir. Unless he is hurt, you have to let him pitch or it is an admission you don’t trust him.

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      • That may be true, but how do we justify losing Jacob Nottingham in return for a pitcher who we won’t use? If Kazmir were hurt that would be different. But if he isn’t executing properly, you have to give him the chance to be that pitcher you gave a lot for and earn his pay.

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      • OP, at this point we already lost that trade. We don’t want to have him in a do or die game right now…he’s been worse with every appearance. We don’t have that luxury right now.

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    • I saw the gun reading 86 when Kazmir was trying to throw a fastball the other night. If that’s all he’s got, I’d rather not start him in any situation. Depending on what happens today, McCullers might not be needed tomorrow. I’d love to have both him and Fiers fully rested to use against the Yanks, with Kazmir available in the pen. For that matter, Keuchel could come out of the pen too. Decision making actually gets easier. You win or you go home.

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  8. Unless the Strangers can muster up some offence….they might well lose today too.
    Lewis is already out of the game at the 4th inning and he left with runners at the corners and no outs. Hamels pitches tomorrow, so if they don’t win today they can clinch on Sunday. I didn’t get to see last night’s game, because of the convention I was at, but it sure looked like fun on paper!! Let’s see how today’s game goes before we start getting too ahead of ourselves. Correa should POSITIVELY get the AL ROY and I think Dallas Keuchel is guaranteed the Cy Young. That kid Odor…..is gonna get it one of these days, he slid into the second baseman and took him out with a late hit and spiked the guy hard. I absolutely despise that kid. Good luck tonight McHugh!!
    5th inning 5-3 Rangers are getting to the Angels…Rangers have the bases loaded no outs. Hope they can pull this off! Just tied it up..5-5 .

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    • Becky, are you rooting for Texas?
      If the Angels win today and tomorrow, and the Astros win today and tomorrow, the Astros and Rangers would be tied for the AL West and the Angels would be eliminated. The two tied teams would play one game in Arlington, where Houston could win the AL West and not have to play in the wild card. Or they could lose to Texas and still be the second wild card.
      We know the Astros have to win to stay in it. I would rather see them have one more shot against Texas to win the division, what they have been fighting for all year.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It looks like the Rangers are going to win. If they hold on and the Astros win tonight to clinch they shouldn’t pitch McCullers tomorrow. This kid has cajones of steel and I see a young Josh Beckett/John Lackey in him. I think he can go into Yankee Stadium and pitch a gem.

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      • 1op, had the Rangers held on with that 10-6 lead in the 9th, a win by the Astros tonight would have given them a game in NY on Tuesday and with that, an opportunity to get everyone pretty much well rested. With that Angel comeback today, so much more can still happen. We were a couple of pitches from having them out of the picture. And I felt good about how that game in the Bronx was setting up.

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      • Dave, I’m serious. Any guy on the Astros who wishes the Rangers had won today is a guy I want on the bench. I’d be willing to bet that every guy in that clubhouse would absolutely choose to play Monday in Arlington, than to not have that chance.
        Just picture in your mind the Astros watching that game today and pulling for Texas to eliminate them. It didn’t happen. I cannot imagine a team that scored 21 runs last night in a must win game just willing to settle for second best.

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      • old pro,

        I don’t think there is a guy on the Astro bench doing anything but thinking about winning tonight. And I’m so pleased to see how they’ve reacted so far this weekend in Arizona. They are having a good time and playing looser than they have in weeks.

        But, I would still have been very happy with a Ranger win today and an Astro win tonight. Our club is very comfortable playing in NY and as I mentioned before, they would have gotten a great opportunity to set up the rotation for an extended run. And I do understand where you’re coming from. I’d love to see them win the division too. I think it’s a tougher path though.

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  10. What a stunning comeback by the Angels. This makes tonight a must win as an Astros loss gives Texas the division and they will rest their regulars tomorrow.

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  11. My 10-year old after the Ranger’s loss today: “Ohlendorf diarrheaed the bed”. Wow. What an epic collapse today. Division title still up for grabs,

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  12. We just need to keep winning and ignore everything else. Texas celebrated after their Thursday win and now may face playing the Astros for the division.
    What an epic loss

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  13. So let me understand this. If we win tonight then it’s like this.
    1. Angels have to win to at least tie us for the WC. Then if we win tomorrow, we play the Rangers for the division with the loser getting the WC.
    2. Rangers win and we win, Rangers win the division and we get the WC.
    3. If we lose and Angels win, we have a playoff with the Angels.
    The long and short of it is that if we win both games we’re in regardless. Otherwise we’re on pins and needles.

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  14. The mood in this house (Dallas) is pretty grim. Good thing I can at least listen to our game tonight on the radio. Not happy campers around here. We NEED to win this game tonight!!!

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  15. DANG….you should have heard my brother in law!! Some choice cuss words came outta his mouth! I just stayed quiet….but laughing my butt off when I stepped outside for a smoke!! Remember when we played them in Arlington and they beat the pants off us….and the fans stated yelling “choke city”??? All I could think of was pay back is hell!!! He he he!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is starting to get very interesting. We know the Astros have at least 2 games left this season. The ironic part of tomorrow is if they win and NYY loses the Astros would host the WC game. However, if Texas also loses then the Astros play in Arlington on Monday and if they lose that game they also lose home field advantage for the WC game as they would be 1/2 game behind NYY. With that being said I’ll take my chances and now be happy if we can get a game 163 against Texas on Monday. They will start Gallardo and I’m starting to see the Astros we saw in April. All the pressure will be on Texas as they will be facing an epic collapse if they lose that game. Just win tomorrow and go from there.

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    • Apparently, I am wrong about losing home field to NYY if the Astros play and lose to TX on Monday. Twitter folks indicated that game doesn’t count toward regular season. If that is the case then I will be pulling for LAA and Baltimore tomorrow.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. OK, here is some info.
    McCullers gets tomorrow’s start. Fiers will be available to pitch tomorrow.
    Keuchel and Kazmir will not be available to pitch tomorrow.
    This according to Drellich.

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    • This makes me nervous about Fiers being available to pitch as that indicates they plan to go to Kazmir on Monday, if the Astros play. Oh well, if it is Texas I am fine with it because we know the Astros will still have the WC game on Tuesday even if Kazmir lays another egg.

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      • If we tie Texas And go with Keuchel on short rest Monday they have a good chance to win the division.
        But then what? I don’t feel comfortable anymore unless it’s Keuchel or McHugh.

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      • Kazmir was bad in September, but so were all the Astros. But this is October and if you would have told me anytime this season that we would have one game for the AL West Division title, and that we would have Kazmir pitching with five days rest, I’ll take that every time.

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  18. Hard to figure who to pull for today in TX vs LAA.
    1. A Houston win – TX wins Houston gets the WC; LAA wins – Hou & Tex have a playoff for the Division with the loser getting the WC.
    2. Houston Loss – TX wins Houston gets the WC; LAA wins – Hou and LAA have a playoff win winner getting the WC.

    If we want the sure thing we want TX to win (WC). A chance to win the division, then we want LAA to win. Boy talk about a tough choice. The only sure thing is to win then we’re in regardless of the TX/LAA game.

    Liked by 1 person

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