Astros steal a win … and home-field advantage


This win had it all. A great pitching performance. (Honestly, I think that first homer by Kendrys Morales was a good pitch by Collin McHugh.) Three hits from Jose Altuve, and two each from George Springer and Jake Marisnick. Another shut-down night from the bullpen.

But it’s all in the past now.

This is the playoffs. It’s not about the long haul. It’s about the next game, the next pitch and the next swing of the bat.

And as you read this, the Astros are about six hours or less from what matters … that next game.

Here’s what I’m looking for in Game 2.

1. How is Scott Kazmir’s velocity, and his movement on his off-speed pitches? Looking at Kazmir’s last outing, it was the unearned runs that doomed him. I think if the Astros’ defense had properly supported Kaz, he’d have had a better outcome.

2. The other thing about Kazmir is he needs to throw strikes. Free bases for the Royals will be the Astros’ doom.

3. With the righty Johnny Cueto on the mound, I’d like to see Preston Tucker in the DH. Tucker gives good ABs, and, frankly, Gattis looks like he’s pressing.

4. Kazmir turns Morales around to the right side, where he hit only four of his 22 regular-season homers. Same for Eric Hosmer, who hit 18 on the season but only four against lefties. Lorenzo Cain hit just nine homers against lefties. This, however, doesn’t help with Mike Moustakas, who hits lefties and righties equally from the left side. Oddly, right-handed hitting Salvador Perez has better power (and numbers overall) against righties than lefties, so having Kazmir (then Keuchel on Sunday) on the mound really works in Houston’s favor. Kazmir really negates their power.

5. As for Johnny Cueto, he’s been pedestrian at best since coming over from Cincy. A righty, he lowers Altuve’s batting average, but Houston has enough good lefty options (Tucker, Rasmus, Valbuena at third, maybe MarGo at first base) to make a difference.

 

I’m feeling good. After all, the goal was just to win one on the road. Mission accomplished.

Advertisements

84 comments on “Astros steal a win … and home-field advantage

  1. We may see Lowrie at 3B if he is healthy and Valbuena at 1B to get the lefty bats in the lineup. Rasmus will be in LF, I’m sure. I don’t think Hinch is ready to take Gattis out of the DH spot yet, nor do I see Marwin batting from the left side with his hand still hurting. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the same lineup as we saw last night.
    Usually Kazmir is his own worst enemy with his fielding, but as you said, his teammates really committed some booboos last time he pitched. But the
    Astros still won that game 7-6 in Seattle. After that was when Houston really started to tighten things up on the road. I feel so much better with Castro behind the plate so that Kazmir does not have to field little squibbers and make a throw!
    I feel pretty good about today’s game. With a day off tomorrow and Keuchel pitching Sunday, I think everyone in the bullpen is available today. Playoffs, Baby!

    Like

  2. I have been checking the historical stats. In the playoffs, the team that wins the 2nd game will have at least one win. If that team won the 1st game, they will have two wins.

    Now back to the stats to glean more important information. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What impressed me the most was that the Royals were not getting cheated on those swings, but McHugh didn’t let it bother him and used it to his advantage. He also had some fantastic luck/success on the BABIP front. Cain smoked the ball a couple times right at infielders, and that diving catch by Jake Marisnick (deserves full recognition) was huge.

    I hope this is to Kazmir’s benefit. PFP has been an issue for him…so if the Royals aren’t bunting and hitting toom many squibblers it may improve his results.

    Like

  4. Kazmir’s control, rather than velocity is what concerns me. He said his “bullpens” were good, which leads me to believe it was anxiety. He has a terrible ERA in playoff games, which adds to the anxiety theory. But, I think he will rise to the occasion today and pitch really well. I think watching his younger teammates win the last 2 games will actually relax him. The pressure is off. The worst that can happen is a split. I say he’s great today.

    Like

  5. Hey everyone I was to locked in last night to be chirping on the blog, great game and just read all your posts last night, great fun stuff TY. Pitching gives up 2 runs in 18 innings, on the road playoff games, impressive!.

    I hope I’m wrong but I would have the bullpen ready a day off tomorrow. Kazmir looks like he lost his mojo about 3 weeks ago. His pitching confidence is about a 2 out of 10. Castro will he be 0- October? Wasn’t he an all star in 2013 batting .275, what the heck happened?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Both of these teams and both of today’s starters struggled in September and both teams have recovered in October. Kazmir has not pitched in October.
    Kazmir is a good pitcher who has been struggling and Cueto has been in the same boat.
    The winner of game 2 is going to be the team that plays the best and Kazmir is part of a team. He is a veteran who understands what this game means and he will give everything he’s got.
    We’ll see if momentum is carried into Game 2 by the Astros. KC has had some trouble this season against lefty pitchers. It would be terrific if Kazmir can match McHugh’s performance last night.
    Go Astros!

    Like

  7. I’m still enjoying the last two wins. The team performed well with starting and relief pitching, hitting and fielding.
    Obviously, the weak link is the hitting, but at least in the 1st inning they came through with situational hitting that has been lacking lately.

    I am worried about Kazmir. When a guy has the playoff yips, I am not sure what over comes that. I am hopeful that seeing the youngsters play fearlessly rubs off on him.
    I think we can hit Cueto – I think we will hit him.
    What I have seen the last two games is a team that is past the overwhelming stress of making the playoffs and is now playing with house money. They looked confident and relaxed.

    Like

  8. Looking at the Astros’ playoff roster, they have 14 position players on it.
    Lowrie and Marisnick have nine homers apiece and everyone else has a lot more than that. Houston has power in every slot of their lineup and on their bench. They are a threat to hit a home run in every at bat.
    The Royal’s bullpen is terrific and pretty much dominated the Astros last night, except for two pitches! Two pitches out of a hundred.
    But with power stepping to the plate in every at bat, two pitches make you pay.
    Last night, four of the five top home run hitters on the Astros did not hit home runs. But, today is another day.

    Like

  9. Kazmir is the question mark. The guys will hit enough, play defense and run the bases. Hopefully, the pen does not have to get involved too early. But I look for a quick hook on Kaz if necessary. Fiers can get the job done while the bats catch up.

    I wonder if the Royals will be playing the Yanks again today.

    We are in a happy position. The Royals could be playing a little tight today. They certainly recall getting swept in Houston not too long ago. And our guys have already accomplished what they had to in KC.

    How about what Rasmus has done of late? To date, he’s our post season MVP.

    Like

    • i wrestled with who should start this game, kazmir or fiers. I think kaz should get the nod. i am hoping an extra day or two of rest between starts gets his velocity back up where it was. If not, and there is trouble, fiers is a legit choice to take up the cause today.

      Like

  10. Jose Altuve has been the little giant – getting things started and knocking in JFSF.
    Springer’s home run was huge last night. The Royals seemed to have the momentum – closing back to a 3-2 margin and with Chris Young striking out 6 of 8 and then he just launched it.
    JFSF is such a valuable tool when he is hitting. Nice ABs last night and he made that diving catch that reminded me of what the Royals OF did over and over in the playoffs last night.
    McHugh was McHuge – he went back after that rain delay and looked cool calm and collected. I’ll take 6 innings and 2 runs every day.
    Nothing like getting that lead right off the bat. I think the team just oozed confidence after that.

    Like

    • Dan, on that point about the rain delay, I like that there has to be a seed of doubt in Yost’s mind whether he did the right thing and perhaps a feeling from Ventura that his skipper didn’t think he could handle it.

      Like

      • The other thing that is in my mind and perhaps Ventura’s ….. did this give the skipper an excuse to pull me because he did not think that I was pitching well on the big stage? He said it was because of the 60 minutes sitting, but was it.
        I thought Pete Rose was funny commentating about it – wondering what the magic of 60 minutes was – if it was 58 minutes it would be OK but not 60….

        Like

  11. I thought it was amazing to think that 8 of the 9 innings were manned by 3 pitchers whose last team cut them loose – McHugh, Sipp and Harris. Now that is value!

    Like

  12. A bit of karma today……Lloyd Mcclendon was fired today. I hope Keuchel has a little smile on his face thinking about how McClendon thought Keuchel was just an “average pitcher”!! Speaking of pitchers….Kazmir does himself no favors when he creates errors on routine balls. If he could just learn to trust his infield, things would go so much more smoothly for him. I would think Hinch has him on a short leash today….but I wouldn’t pull the trigger on him until he looks completely lost on the mound. I don’t care one tiny bit if Castro doesn’t get a hit today as long as he shuts down the running game. I loved how cool and collected McHugh was last night……that was #20 for him this year. What an awesome year he has had!!!

    Like

  13. Cueto won’t give you much today, that’s why small ball will be essential for this game! I gotta admit…I said a little prayer for our guys today. Good luck Scott!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This Sucks!!!!! I’m stuck at work with everyone up here watching the Rangers game that went in to extra innings. I’m trying to get it switched over to our game

    Like

  15. So far, we’re doing pretty good. 3-1 after 2 innings. Coulda had more but I’m not griping. I still think we can hit Cueto today. Settle down, Scott, and get that ball down in the zone.

    Like

  16. Chill out guys…..Scott is doing better than any of us thought. Unless and until he completely losses it….he stays in the game.

    Like

    • I have no faith in him…I hope I’m proven wrong though, or our offense can carry the load tonight.

      Cueto not looking good either, though, so there’s that.

      Like

  17. I want him in the to succeed and he’s doing better than I expected but my nerves are shot.
    Can’t wait for them to get home. They’ve been on the road too long.

    Like

  18. Kazmir battled with 100 pitches…..Hinch gave him a vote of confindence, and he responded, giving up only 2runs. Oliver perez, however ain’t doing so good. Our guys have three more innings to get back into this game. I have faith.

    Like

  19. Hinch is gonna pitch Will Harris’S arm off……why didn’t he put Fires in instead. Well… what can ya say, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. But I can tell you the guys on this broadcast game… * S U C K*.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. These guys only have themselves to blame for today’s loss. Not the bullpen, but the bats absolutely went missing after the 4th ining. Tsk, tsk, tsk……the strikeout Kings reared their ugly heads again. AND…. when you haven’t pitched in 10 days (Fields) don’t be surprised by the results. We’ll get ’em Sunday!!

    Like

  21. Oh….and Gomez ain’t fooling anyoe….they absolutely KNEW he was gonna try and steal. Giving up a free outs, now THAT really chaps my a $$. Time to speak to Gomez about being stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Any of you feel confident with anyone other than Keuchel or McHugh on the mound? This team has to win with pitching and defense. The lineup is simply flat after Rasmus, yet they keep sending them back out.
    Just me venting.

    Like

  23. Once again I over-expected from Kazmir. If you think long-term–would you resign him right now? Unless he gets one more game to pitch in– and does remarkably well–I think they will either make him an offer that he CAN refuse—or just no offer.

    Like

  24. Have to agree we had this game and then went all Astro after the 4th dang it! I told the wife before started that we would need 6 runs to win this game , We had em(&^%$(&^&*^

    Like

  25. It’s the best of five. KC worked all year to have the best record and get home field advantage and we beat them in game one and we now have that advantage. Kazmir got his chance and he sure was better than Cueto. He just wasn’t as good as McHugh.
    So, now we have our ace in the hole and if we win two home games, we don’t have to go back to KC.
    With the lack of hitting today, a cave-in by the bullpen, and a pinch runner picked off we are right back to being our normal Astros. But our normal Astros win at home, so let’s see them be normal.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s