Stretch run: Can the Astros catch the Indians?


Baseball is an ebb and flow game. Momentum can turn on a dime and what a team did the last few weeks is old news by the time the teams walk off the field at the end of the latest game.

Still, in the world of ebb and flow, what the Cleveland Indians have done in the last four weeks is more of a tsunami than a high tide. Heading into Tuesday’s games, the Indians have won 24 of their last 25 games. And they’ve won those in every fashion you can imagine from 9 blow outs (5 or more runs) to 5-1 in one-run games to winning their only extra inning game in that time period.

Even though the Indians have a solid offense, there is no doubt that outstanding pitching has driven this streak. After giving up six runs in the first game of their 22-game win streak, they never gave up more than four runs for the next 24 games. In fact they twirled seven shutouts, three one-run games, and eight two-run games in that span. For comparison, the Astros have only eight shutouts all season long as a staff.

Down the stretch, the Indians play six games on the road (three vs. the Angels and three vs. the M’s) followed by six games at home (three vs. the Twins and three vs. the W’Sox). The Astros play six games at home (three vs. the W’Sox and three vs. the Angels) followed by seven games on the road (three vs. the Rangers and four vs. the BoSox). The Indians play two teams solidly in the Wild Card chase (Angels and Twins) and one on the periphery (the M’s). The Astros play one team in the WC chase (the Angels) and another on the edges (the Rangers). One important piece to how tough the Astros schedule is ties to those last four games at Boston and whether they mean anything. The Sox are three up on the Yanks right now and could either have clinched by that time or be in a death match for the division title. This could be a very odd series to end the season. As things stand, there is a good chance that the Astros and Red Sox could play each other four times and then turn around and play each other in the ALDS.

On to the “evaluation”….

Why the Indians can’t be caught

They have forgotten how to lose. Their momentum is as large as their confidence and having a superior pitching staff and bullpen will allow them to plow through. Of their opponents only the Twins offense is above the league average in runs/game. This is a huge train running down the tracks and it won’t slow down until the season is over.

In the last few weeks, the Astros have been massacred in a four game series with the Oakland A’s (41 runs to 15 runs). The Indians have given up 41 runs……in their last 24 games!! The Astros might match the Indians down the stretch, but since they were 1-5 against the Indians head to head, they have to make up the 1-1/2 game deficit they currently face plus one more game to take away home field from Cleveland and face the wild card winner instead of the Red Sox in the ALDS.

Why the Indians can be caught

The Indians are dinged up right now. Bradley Zimmer (their Jake Marisnick) is out for the season, LF Michael Brantley is likely out until the end of the month, and both RF Lonnie Chisenhall and 3B Jose Ramirez have been missing time with injuries. The baseball gods have a way of evening things out over time. Twenty-two game win streaks are begging for some type of return to normalcy with bad breaks, bad bounces, or bad decisions by the manager.

The Astros have been an extremely good offensive team, when they get all top three players, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa stroking the ball. The weekend series gave the team hope that both Springer and Correa are breaking out of the hitting funk each has been in since returning from the DL. On top of that the rotation has picked up the pace and now that the Astros are not giving away starts by Mike Fiers any more, there is a good chance they can ride the brilliance of Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel along with solid starts by Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh and Charlie Morton to a big finish to this unexpectedly great year.

Your turn: Can the Astros catch the Indians in the last two weeks of the season?

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44 comments on “Stretch run: Can the Astros catch the Indians?

  1. It would be nice for a number of reasons. But as I see it, the answer is probably ‘not unless the Indians pitching staff falls apart’ – AND we somehow manage to sweep both the White Sox and Rangers, while winning 2 out of 3 from both the Angels and the Red Sox.

    That part about ‘the Indians pitching staff falls apart’ sure sounds good to me, though.

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  2. To finish my thought on Brad Peacock from the previous post, Peacock’s won/lost record is 11-2 and he has made five starts where he left with a lead and the bullpen lost the game.

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  3. I think Old Pro is spot-on. It is doable, but the bigger picture are the SPs come playoff-time. The Tribe are absolutely loaded. If we beat them, it will require plate discipline, a running game, and excellent defense. It will also require that we get their lefty hitters out!

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  4. More realistic are the Astros v Boston round one. In a 5-game series, anything can happen. They will have to play loose and be aggressive on the base paths. And Keuchel and Verlander will have to show their mettle. Is this team clutch? We’ll soon find out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Can the Astros catch the Indians? Yes they can. Will the Astros catch the Indians? Get back with me in October.

      Seriously, the Astros know they have to win 11. No matter the competition that is what the have to do. This time of year, there are no pushovers. The Astros have the talent, but we could use a little luck also.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Of course the Astros can catch the Indians. We trail by one game in the loss column, but have also played one fewer game than Cleveland thus far. This means we have to lose two fewer than Cleveland the remainder of the way to tie. Unfortunately, they took the season series 5-1…so we need to lose 3 fewer games over the remainder to pass them.

    Here’s the thing…we have a lot of games we want to win. We don’t want Trout and Pujols in the postseason. We have a good lead on Boston (1-2 on season, 4 remaining), but we don’t want them to catch us. We need 3 of 4 in that series to try to hold onto home field advantage. Finally, losing games to Texas would be bad mojo. They’re going to try to spoil our party. If Hinch doesn’t get the team fired to up to break their spirit, well, perhaps we shouldn’t talk about October baseball.

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    • Sorry, I really blew it with that last post. To tie need to lose 1 fewer than the Indians the remainder of the season, which translates to 2 additional wins thanks to trailing by one in both the win and loss columns. Losing 2 fewer than the Indians means we would win 3 games more than them the rest of the way…which would capture the best record in the AL (unless both of us tank and Boston passes us).

      However, what I wanted to talk about is “who would we like to play?” Options:
      1. ALDS v. Boston – hold serve but remain behind Cleveland.
      2. ALDS v. Wildcard
      a. NYY
      b. MIN
      c. ANA
      d. SEA
      e. TEX
      f. KC
      g. Tampa
      3. ALDS v. CLE

      The caveat is that NYY could still catch Boston. Tampa trails by 13 with 12 to play, but can still make a run at the WC. Looking at the list, however, it’s tough. I’d rather play CLE in a 5 game series, but that’s not a realistic option. As such, getting home field advantage is looking pretty important.

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  6. I don’t think Hinch needs to get them fired up. I think Hinch needs to look at every game as a playoff game from here on out and make every move like it’s for home field advantage.
    He’s got the most rested team in the league and it’s time to start playing with a playoff attitude.
    Putting your best team on the field will get them fired up.

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  7. Remember when Luhnow decided to go out and spend tons of money on international free agents to the point where we were paying penalties in the summer of 2016? How about this 17 year old pitcher who advanced through three leagues this summer: http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=672810#/career/R/pitching/2017/ALL
    They don’t even have a picture of him.
    Remember what it was like on August 1, when we were wondering where our new pitcher went?
    As my wife always says when we are almost home from an outing “we’re on the home stretch, now!

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    • 60 innings at the age of 18 is pretty impressive for the modern game. I wonder what the Astros will do with him next year and what they hope to do over the next 4 years.

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      • He was 3.7 years younger than the average age of the Appy League.
        The Astros will not have a team in Greeneville next season. They will go with one less minor league team.

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  8. My rabbi is vacationing in the Caribbean. I texted him to ask how he was, with the hurricane bearing down and all. He just texted bac musical note emojis and the words: ‘Oy vey Maria!’

    Liked by 2 people

  9. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/no-one-will-want-to-face-these-yankees/

    I am in agreement with this article. I think the Astros match up better with the Red Sox than they do the Yankees. I put very little credence in regular season records against a team and parlaying that to the same results in the playoffs. We all remember the 2015 Mets going 0-7 against the Cubs during the regular season and then sweeping them in the NLCS. It would be nice to have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, but I much prefer an ALDS matchup with the Red Sox than the Yankees. Granted, it is possible the Yankees lose the WC game and the Twins advance, but I would just prefer not to be concerned with the WC game and just play the Red Sox in the ALDS. I really believe we take them out in no more than 4 games. Outside of Chris Sale their rotation is average and outside of Kimbrel their bullpen is mediocre. The Yankees have a very potent lineup, a solid 1-3 in their rotation and a strong bullpen. They look like a team that could advance to the ALCS and, possibly, the World Series.

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  10. I’d love to know what the mystery that surrounds McCullers is. If never seen this club react to a starting pitcher like this. They were kinda weird about Keuchel last year and we finally found out after the season was over he really was ingured.
    Off subject but I sure do feel for Correa and Beltran, as well as ALL the players from Puerto Rico. I hope they were able to bring ALL their families to the U.S. Sad that they will be in harms way.
    Daveb….keep checking in ok?!!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Dan…..Correa had “Pray for PR” on his cap tonight.😢
        Carlos doesn’t know it, but I’ve been in prayer a lot for all who are in harms way would be spared.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Kind of like in the movie Major League. Willie Mays Hayes makes an over the head basket catch. Lou Brown (the Manager) says to Hayes, “Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever $#@%^* do it again. Baseball is a great game.

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  11. Good pitching overcame poor fielding, poor baserunning and poor hitting. Hinch told Springer that his play in the eighth inning was “great hustle but don’t do it again before October”.
    Jose Altuve had four ABs tonight and saw four pitches.
    Really impressed by Giolito and Moncada.
    Nine strikeouts in four innings by the bullpen. White Sox had six hits and 14 Ks. Astros had eight hits and 3 Ks.
    Astros farm teams went undefeated again tonight.

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  12. 1 win down 10 to go #1 seed, sweet. I tried to temper by excitement on McHugh a bit, only because this was a WS line up not the Red Sox., and the WS just playing out the year so they can get some golf in.
    Praying for the Islands.

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  13. I am so glad we got those ugly defensive and base-running moments out of the way before the playoffs. And I am really glad the pitching, from stem to stern, was good enough to overcome the offensive mistakes and give us a win.

    Next area to work on: holding runners on base more effectively, or having our catchers actually throw a few out every once in awhile.

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  14. I don’t think catching Cleveland in the standings is near as important as finishing off the season with a bang. Right now, I would be perfectlly satisfied if the Astors finished out the last dozen games with 10 wins, even if they didn’t catch Cleveland, because it would mean the Astros had returned to playing like one of the best teams rather than just having one of the best records.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Springer DHing tonight.
    Bregman on the bench.
    Marwin at 3B.
    Maybin in CF. Has hit Shields well in his career.
    Fisher in LF
    Reddick in RF.
    Gattis behind the plate.

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  16. I just found out a minute ago that the Astros won last night, reading Dan’s comment, “great win tonight”. Electricity right now comes from a big old Generac diesel, too loud, but effective. The local power company is working hard to get the lights turned back on, but we had downed trees all over the island. I know they’ll get the lights on quicker than Florida. All good here, damp, soggy and muddy but thankful to have taken a glancing blow. Maria was a cat 5 when she passed 60 miles south. Not every island was so fortunate. We took 20 inches of rain over 20 hours, blowing sideways, which really makes it hard to keep all of it out of the house. So I might even watch some baseball tonight, if I can keep the eyes open! Let’s go ahead and win 9 more.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Dan, I fell asleep somewhere in the 7th. But good to see a tight win again, especially Liriano getting three outs and Musgrove reinvented. I’m not overly concerned about catching the Indians either. The 1-0 wildcard game in NY showed that a playoff atmosphere on the road is not going to intimidate these guys and they’ve played away from home this year as well as any club.

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  17. Peacock and Musgrove are like that movie “Freaky Friday”!! Peacock has solidified himself in the roration…..and Musgrove has earned BIG praises out of the bullpen!
    This switcheroo just might be the best story of this 2017 season! Hinch said today that Peacock will be in the rotation for the playoffs…..*WHO* could see this coming besides OP?!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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