Playoffs 2018: The week in review, the week ahead

The week of 10-1 through 10-7 in review
The Astros only played two games this week and they played them brilliantly, getting out of the gate with a super solid “play from ahead” 7-2 win on Friday afternoon and following it up with a tough come from behind 3-1 win on Saturday to take a 2-0 lead in their best of five series with the Cleveland Indians. They got great pitching, timely hitting and did not boot the ball around in either game.

The week of 10-8 through 10-14 in a preview
The Astros know they will play a range of games this week. They could finish off the ALDS with a win Monday behind Dallas Keuchel at Cleveland. If not then, they must win either Tuesday’s game on the road or Wednesday’s game at home, if necessary, to move on to the ALCS starting Saturday and Sunday. If the Astros make it to the ALCS, they will either play the Red Sox with two in Boston or if the Yankees beat the Sox, they will start the ALCS at Minute Maid.

The best scenario would seem to be to finish off the Indians early and not have to bring Justin Verlander back for a potential Game 5. Oh, it would be nice if New York and Boston wear each other’s pitching staffs out leading into the ALCS.
Players of the Week:
With only two games to tie to, this will focus on more than one player’s performance:

  • Justin Verlander. Pitched a brilliant no-no for five innings and though he was charged for two runs after he left the game in the sixth, he did not relent until after he had a 4-0 lead. He went 5.1 IP, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits with 7 Ks and 2 BBs.
  • Gerrit Cole. Pitched a great 7 innings in his first post-season start for the Astros (he had 3 previous starts for the Pirates) giving up 1 run on 3 hits with 12 Ks and 0 BBs.
  • Alex Bregman. With 3 runs scored, 3 RBIs and 2 home runs he was Mr. Clutch again.
  • Marwin Gonzalez. He is off to a 5-for-7 start to the postseason and hit the clutch two-run double Saturday that flipped a 1-0 deficit to a 2-1 lead in the 6th that gave the Astros a lead they never relinquished.
  • Ryan Pressly. Yes, he threw a terrible wild pitch with the bases loaded and one out, Friday, but he did not melt down as he minimized the damage and went on to record a solid 1.2 IP outing followed by a 0.2 outing on Saturday.
  • Roberto Osuna. He finished off both games solidly and had 4 pitch save on Saturday.
  • Others. Jose Altuve has a homer and a couple runs scored, George Springer and Martin Maldonado both had homers, Josh Reddick had three hits and two big RBIs and Tyler White, while not being part of the scoring was on base six times as he helped flip that lineup over a number of times.

Stat focus: Alex Bregman and the HR Scalps
After two playoff games, Bregman has two home runs against absolutely top notch pitchers, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. This goes along with the four he hit last off-season – Chris Sale (2), Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw. Pretty impressive set of pitchers to start his playoff career with….

Pop Song That Should Have Been a Hit

“Turn the Page” by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band…

This 1973 song was never released as a single by Seger, though the version on his 1976 Live Bullet album received a lot of album-oriented FM play. A 1998 version of it by Metallica did become a hit, but this is about the Seger version.

This was a very personal song, related to the difficulties of travelling on the road and even of being a “long hair” back in the day with truckers looking at them at truckstops inspiring the lyrics “Is it a woman or a man?”

There are two highlights to the song, Seger’s gritty vocals and the fantastic saxophone lead in by Alto Reed. This was a song that turned the spotlight on the truth about touring and gave a little lesson to all aspiring musicians.

But back to baseball – will the Astros clinch the ALDS and when? If they clinch, do you care if they play the Red Sox or the Yankees next?

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118 comments on “Playoffs 2018: The week in review, the week ahead

  1. -Turn The Page has always been one of my favorite Seger songs, and Seger is one of my favorite rock artists.
    -The Astros turn the page and travel to Cleveland with a day off. They go from huge velocity RH starters to Keuchel, and face a guy in Clevinger that they handed two losses to this season.
    -The Astros have McHugh, Harris, Sipp and James who have not been used yet out of the bullpen and they have LMJ who will have two days rest.
    -Kemp has a homer off of Clevinger, but with the day off for everybody else to rest up, McCann might be the only change on Monday.
    -Trebek says I should take Altuve for $200 because he’s on the road. I’m taking Altuve because it also fits into being on the road with this particular Seger blog. Let’s hope the entire team is a Silver Bullet Band of shooters and takes down the Indians in three.

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  2. Of all the positives I wish that Correa and And Altuve would schedule a session at the Marvin Gonzales hitting school. He went with the pitch and didn’t try to pull it going 4 for 4 with that crucial double to right field. I know both of these guys can do it, they just need to make the change in their approach. Yuli almost knocked the cover off the ball yesterday but unfortunately he kept hitting it right at the Cleveland player. Think Hinch should have PH for Maldonado late in the game (kemp) but no harm, no foul. For the most part he’s done an excellent job in managing this series. And with that, he should be in contention for Manager of the year. With all the injuries we’ve had and still win 103 games I think that speaks volumes.

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    • Zanuda, let me ask you this question again. You pinch hit for Maldonado and then you have to put McCann in. What if he gets hurt? Sure it’s a long shot, but if he goes down, who goes back there? We’re protecting a lead with a great bullpen. Do want to put McCann in against the team with the most stolen bases in the league when they have not even tried to run against Maldonaldo? The Astros played and managed a clean game.

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    • I think he did not pinch hit for Maldanado there for three reasons:
      -You would have burned 1 player(Maldanado) and purposely forced your old, cold, last catcher into the game after three hours sitting on the bench. Second bench player burned. Gattis pinch hitting for Reddick(Gattis is third bench player burned) means Marisnick is already committed to going into the outfield because he’s you late inning outfield defensive genius, which Kemp definitely is not. You’ve used up the fourth bench player
      -You would burn Kemp with a lead. You went with 14 position players so that you don’t get caught in the late innings with no alternatives. And he had just used up Gattis, right? Gattis was your #3 catcher so McCann is in the game in the seventh and you have no reserve catcher, are only up by 1 run and you would have only Myles Straw left on your bench after six innings.
      -Your pitching has been spectacular with Maldanado catching for two straight playoff games. Does he want to do anything to mess with that rhythm, when he has Pressley and Osuna ready to hold and save the game? No

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      • In my head I would have let Reddick who hit well Friday and has hit leftys pretty well to hit instead of Gattis with Gattis as your emergency catcher, who has a 0.00001% chance of being used.
        But – listening to the arguments I am fine with Maldonado staying in …. though then why play McCann Monday?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know the specifics, but the way Hinch has described it, they are going with matchups, and they think McCann is a good matchup.
        Plus, Keuchel and McCann are really tight. Keuchel said so last November during the WS celebration.

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      • I see your point, but as Dan mentioned , I wouldn’t have PH for Reddick. But I’m just wondering. It’s not like I think Hinch is an idiot for playing it the way he did, just thinking out loud. I thought if Kmep pinch hit he has a much better contact rate. I was also wondering about how many times pitches shook off Maldonado. Hadn’t seen that all year but maybe they knew what they wanted to throw. It’s all moot anyway, we won.

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  3. I read today where four Astro hitters slugging over .500, Marwin, Bregman, White & Reddick I believe was the last one. Zan I’m with you on Altuve, yesterday I watched him swing at pitches a foot outside the zone. Yes he hit a HR & scored some runs but I would love to see him swing at more strikes as oppose to everything. CC seems to be on the cusp I believe, just square the ball up more. GS took some big, powerful swings as well, missing. I’d like to see the hitting GS, not the big swing guy, slow down. Not complaining cause we’re winning, but if we have a few more get offs by this lineup, look out whomever we face. Also am not having anxieties over the BP matchups like last yr, these new guys have been lights out & I’m grateful for them. Is Salty off the roster, I did not notice?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am a firm believer that “behind every silver lining is a dark cloud.” But at 2-0 it is difficult to find fault with anything. I think we stack up better against the Red Sox, but right now, I just want to get past the Indians.

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  5. I’m sure Hinch will do all he can to close the series out tomorrow. Keuchel will be on a short leash. We’ve got plenty of quality options to enter the game at any point. Outside of Morton, Verlander and Cole, everyone else will be available. But no predictions from me either. One game at a time.

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  6. Let’s remember how good these guys are on the road!! I’ve got a real good feeling about tomorrow. What a performance Verlander and Cole have had.
    Verlander helped us go all the way last year, adding Garrett Cole THIS year may do the same! I still have to pinch myself just to be in the playoffs again this year!
    Oh my goodness I love this team!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Last year I was so nervous about the outcomes. This year I’m expecting us to repeat. Is this what Yankees and (spit) Red Sox fans feel like every year?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Puig had a TOOTLBAN and got caught trying to steal second in game 2. Roberts is sitting him tonight for not having the team’s best interest in mind when he chose to go on his own.

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  9. Keep this in mind…..the Astros are up 2-0 despite having faced 2 of the 5 best starters in the AL. With 12K and no BB Cole became only the second pitcher in MLB history to do so, behind Tom Seaver’s 13K/ 0BB in 1973.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Indians were 91 and 71 this year. They went 39 and 18 against the White Sox, Tigers and KC. They played everyone else a game under.

    The Red Sox went 31 and 7 against the Orioles and Jays. That makes it easier to reach 108 wins.

    Everyone plays 19 games within the division and seven against the balance of the league. And then of course there is the crap shoot of inter league play match ups.

    I don’t think there should be 19 games against the teams in your division and just 7 against the rest of the squads within the league.

    The Indians had a pretty easy trip to a division title. The Red Sox are likely not as good as those 108 wins indicate.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. -Rockies lose, Braves win. The opposite of what I thought might happen.
    -It’s possible that Jeff Luhnow’s and David Stearn’s teams could meet in the World Series.
    -I like Freddie Freeman.
    -There is some really bad NFL Football going on out there.
    -Colorado might have been the most tired baseball team I have seen in a long time. They had nothing left.

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      • Dan, and they almost pulled off the opener in Milwaukee. Winning a division is so important to going deep into October. It’s fair though in that regard. The Rockies were given a shot. That’s all they could have asked for. The Brewers will be tough, I’m guessing against the Dodgers. I hope they go an exhausting seven games with three of them extra inning affairs..

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  12. Keuchel manages baserunners pretty well so he may balance McCann’s weaker throwing arm and I like McCann’s bat in the lineup today. If Keuchel can find a way to get out of the first inning unscathed I like our chances but if the Indians light up the place then I think it makes for a long afternoon and lets them think they have a chance.
    I’ve dreamed of Altuve getting a Bregman brain transplant. Can you imagine a guy with Jose’s hand-eye and bat to ball skills mixed with Bregman’s approach? I don’t think it would be far fetched to see Jose crack the .375 mark or so and put up Trout like OPS numbers. I just don’t see this coaching regime reaching him.

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  13. -Mike Clevinger was 2-6 against AL West teams this season.
    -Dallas Keuchel faced Cleveland early this season when he was not pitching well against anybody.
    -I do know that Dallas Keuchel has been in this spot many times and he has shined.
    -You can tell that Correa’s back is better because of the way he is fielding. He’s all over the field and his arm is back to being a rocket launcher. As a guy with a lot of lower back problems over the last 40 years, I can tell you, you cannot gun a ball like that with a bad back. The hitting problem is different. It is a timing problem.
    -The top 5 hitters in the Astros lineup have good numbers against Clevinger. It’s no surprise Correa is batting sixth. It’s planned. Look back at the batting order for the last week of the regular season.
    -A playoff game start of 1:30pm et. On a Monday. When are they going to put lights in these stadiums?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I wonder if the World Champions might have a bit of a chip in their shoulder due to being relegated to non-prime time. If so, I hope they focus that anger through all three rounds.

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  15. On the plus side we have Clevinger over 60 pitches after 3 IP. On the negative side we left him off the bases loaded and one out hook…..

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  16. Should have scored at least 1 run that inning Dan, one deep fly was needed at least. Watch some big hacks come up empty. Could feel Marwin’s pain missing that grapefruit right up the gut and Clevinger needs a diaper change after that inning.

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  17. Indians had a lefty up in the pen last inning. You do realize this is a game after having a day off right?!! These guys don’t play worth a cr*p, after having a day off. They need to get with it PERIOD.

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    • Becky they played very well on Friday……now that was after having four days off, not one day off, but still they proved they can come back from R&R and do something.

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  18. Post game they discussed Clev being a fastball/strikeout pitcher which plays into the Astros hitting approach, feasting on FB’s. I’m seeing him toss a lot of changeups, mixing in FB’s. Clev is sitting on 7 K’s thus far. We slow down, hopefully slay the mistakes like GS just did, but not a FB he hit. He sat on a hanger up in the zone and we’ll be fine. Free swinging will hurt us.

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    • This will be a very short, unproductive gm if we don’t stop chasing all those breaking balls outside the zone. Clev has made plenty of mistakes but we keep bailing him out. Aw man, DK serves up his own hanger. Time for that hook, we ain’t out of this yet

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  19. We still in this gm folks with a few timely hits and lockdown pitching. We are too #*$_ anxious trying to close this series out rather than take what is given. Historically we had hit Clevinger but ‘WE’ made him Cy Young today with bad swinging, 9Ks. I’m AJ I’m tellin the guys to get head in gm & slow down at the plate, give themselves a chance. I put in Maldi & sit McCann, White for YG, even CC if there was another alternative, but…

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  20. Altuve knocks in a run on a ground out on a pitch that is so far below and off the plate – it is barely on the screen of Gameday….I’ll take it – 2-2.

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