The week of 9-24 through 9-30 in review
The Astros had a 4.5 game lead and their magic number to clinch the division was 3 to begin the week.
So their job was to end this pennant race as quickly as possible and that is what they did. After two wins on Monday and Tuesday against the Blue Jays, the Astros clinched late night when the Mariners did them a favor and eliminated the Oakland A’s in extra innings. The Astros dropped a game with a victory hangover to end the Toronto series, but then beat up on the hapless Baltimore Orioles 3 out of 4 games to set a new team record for wins with 103.
The week of 10-1 through 10-7 in a preview
Later in the week, we will post an in-depth look at the match-up between the Astros and Cleveland Indians that begins this Friday at Minute Maid Park. Suffice it to say that in 2017 the Astros may have dodged a bullet when the Yanks came back from 0-2 to eliminate the Tribe in the ALDS.
Player of the Week:
With the Astros clinching, a lot of players saw time and a lot of players had days off this week. Josh James and his 5 innings, 1 run outing in the game that took their magic number to one was a consideration as were both strong outings by Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Roberto Osuna. But this week we give it to a player, who may have been THE leader in the 2017 playoffs and who could be an under the radar contributor this time around, Brian McCann. He only played in three games, but he scored three runs, hit two homers and knocked in three runs during the week. A hot bat by such a clutch player could be critical to their success going forward.
Stat focus: Their Best Record Ever – 103 wins
Yes, the previous record of 102 wins was set in a 1998 season that ended in a first-round playoff loss to Kevin Brown and the San Diego Padres. It has been pretty impressive to see this team overcome the injury problems affecting George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to put up more wins than in 2017. But it can be all undone in a quick series, so now the real season begins.
Pop Song That Should Have Been a Hit
“The Weight” by The Band – Everyone of a certain age knows this song, even if they don’t know it’s title and even if they wonder about why there is a band called The Band. It was released back in 1968 and zoomed all the way up to a weak #61 in the charts. Jackie DeShannon (What the World Needs Now) put out a version about the same time and it only made #55.
If you’ve ever seen the movies Easy Rider or the Big Chill you’ve heard The Weight. If you listened to FM album-oriented stations in the 60’s – 70’s you’ve heard The Weight. It is Americana music with an early southern rock touch brought to you by a bunch of Canadians and one American from the south, Levon Helm. It starts out with an iconic first line “I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling about half past dead.” It continues along with biblical imagery and eclectic characters and takes the listener through a 4+ minute slice of life.
So the regular season is in the rearview mirror. What do you see ahead?