Astros 2018: The playoff weeks in review and preview


The week of 10-8 through 10-14 in review
The Astros played three games this week and had mixed, but mostly positive results. On Monday they completed a sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS with an 11-3 pounding that was a 2-1 deficit heading into the 7th inning. They combined bad fielding by pitcher Trevor Bauer with bad pitching by Bauer to take a 4-2 lead and then piled on with 6 runs in the 8th and 1 in the 9th. In the first game of the ALCS against the Red Sox, the Astros held a 3-2 lead (where both teams had only 2 hits) headed into the 9th, when a huge HR by Josh Reddick and a squibber 3 run HR by Yuli Gurriel helped them to a 7-2 win over Boston behind strong pitching by Justin Verlander and the bullpen. Their starting pitching let them down on Sunday as Gerritt Cole gave up 5 runs (4 earned) and the Astros came up short 7-5.

The week of 10-15 through 10-21 in a preview
The Astros could clinch another trip to the World Series by taking the next three games at home on Tuesday through Thursday. If neither team sweeps these games they will return to Boston for games on Saturday and Sunday, if needed. The Astros really need to take advantage of the home field as the Red Sox’s Sunday win rejuvenated a 108 win team that had to be doubting themselves a bit. The starters for game 3 and 4 are Dallas Keuchel, who will be facing a right-centric lineup and Charlie Morton, who is a question mark relative to how rusty he will be coming back from injury and lack of use. Game 5 has not been announced, but it must be Verlander in a game they must have no matter what happens in the next couple of games.

Player of the Week:
This needs to be the guy who stunk up the 2017 playoffs until he became the World Series MVP, George Springer. He had 2 RBIs in each of the three games this week with two HRs and two doubles thrown in the mix. He has been the Astros most consistent weapon as Jose Altuve gets himself out and Alex Bregman gets pitched around and takes walks.

Pop Song That Never Gets Played on the Radio
“Bad Time” by Grand Funk Railroad – This song rose to #4 on the Billboard on the Hot 100 back in 1975, but you would never know it from its total absence from the radio waves. Written by Mark Farner while he was going through a divorce, the music is a lot more joyous than the lyrics, but a really solid pop song with a catchy hook.

Back to baseball: By this time next week we will know if the Astros move on to a second consecutive WS or head home for the winter. Which way do you think it will go and what are the keys for this week?

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61 comments on “Astros 2018: The playoff weeks in review and preview

  1. If you had asked that question yesterday I would have responded with a positive WS return. Today I have doubts.
    The Sox had Cole figured out from the start and our guys looked mostly lost.
    Hinch has got to rethink that lineup. Without any protection Bregman is going to continue to be stranded on base.
    The Astros have to win at least two of these home games.

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    • I’m sure they just have a slightly sore left forearm that needs to be lightly rubbed prior to throwing breaking balls that move three feet. I would complain but I am afraid that the next video will feature Houston Astros and Brett Stroms pine tar garden in his backyard….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m still quite optimistic. We got a split in Boston, although once you win the first one, you want the second one too.

    Anything can happen in a short series. The best team does not always win. We played a clean game on Saturday night and won. We played a not so clean game on Sunday and lost. Early jitter error by Cole. Passed balls, wild pitch. And the uncontrollable…..a double off the wall that did not want to come down to Marwin rolls along a ledge and scores all three guys on base. Smart Boston fans though. Had anyone grabbed that ball, it’s dead and the score is still tied.

    Tomorrow night we have our biggest question mark. Can a lefty starter throw a great game in this series? We might need that from Keuchel. We also need guys to hit in bunches.

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  3. Introducing a new dish at the diner – ‘Meat Loaf for Astro Fans’:

    Marwin’s bangin’ fences all night,
    but that don’t mean we get the win.
    Passed balls are really piling up our side,
    Joe West can stop more throws than our backstop can!

    Though Alex stays on base all night,
    somehow it’s gettin’ us nowhere!
    ‘Cause Yuli’s bat’s been lost in Never Land;
    and Bregs is left without a reason to stare.

    When we get back home and our fans come out
    Let’s really show the world some real H-Town spunk
    Let’s wait for fastballs and then line drive ‘em out!
    and stop swingin’ at all their filthy junk!
    Let’s start to show ‘em what this team’s about.
    Cause we’ve been playin’ their kind of game too long,
    It’s time for us to really twist and shout!

    So at MMP, please hear what we’re tellin’ you
    We want two! (We want two!),
    We need two! (We need two!)
    But there ain’t no way we gonna win this if we blow two;
    A sweep makes us glad –
    but two out of three ain’t bad.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. From the first inning last night I could tell things were kind of off with our guys. Cole was nervous, and the throwing error sure didn’t help. Sandy is right the Red Sox came out swinging to catch Cole off guard, and I can bet you a dollar they WILL do the same to Keuchel. Dallas has to be aware from the first pitch what their plan of attack will be. The best part of playing back here, is the guys in the outfield know where our wall is back there. I’m still concerned about the crash Marwin had last night. The next day is the worst….makes every bone in your body hurt. I have a good feeling about the three games we have here….my only concern is how Charlie will do, he hasn’t pitched in a looong time.
    AND….if Cora thinks he can bring Sale back for a 4th game, think again, the dude is not healthy. Oh, and please don’t bring McCullers back in for the next 2 games….his pitches in the dirt are HORRIBLE! Still haven’t washed my orange Springer shirt it’s my good luck charm! GO ‘STROS⚾!!

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  5. May use Altuve as the DH tomorrow because he tweeted his knee running to first base last night. I don’t like taking the bat outta White’s hands, but I ain’t the manager. Marwin would take over 2nd base in Altuve’s place.

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  6. The Astros have proven that they are one of the four best teams in baseball.
    Winning the ALCS would make them the best team in the AL.
    Winning the WS would convince me we are the best team in baseball.
    I am satisfied with where the Astros are. This is big time baseball and here we are with two smaller market teams with smaller payrolls competing with two of the bigger market teams with huge pocketbooks. It’s where we have always wanted to be and no matter what happens, I’m good with it. They are not going to give four trophies with those flags on them. The best team in baseball is going to win the one trophy.
    We got one. If we win another this year that’s fabulous. If we don’t, I want the team to be in this position at this same time next year. That was Luhnow’s plan. Compete every year.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Let’s face it, Keuchel remains our biggest question mark, in that he has the ability to single-handedly affect the game tonight, more than any other Astro on the field. I just hope that Joe West does not become the story tonight.

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    • Joe West tends to have a strike zone that is wide – especially on the side away from him (if he is looking over the catcher’s right hand shoulder – it is the corner on the opposite side that he extends). He does not tend to give low strikes (like Keuchel needs) because he can’t get his fat (self) low enough to do a good job on those. I feel like we have been set up.

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      • Wonder who determines who works the plate in a particular game during the post season? Crew Chief? League Office? Seems like after 63 years on the planet, I should have an answer to that question.

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      • on a broadcast the other day i heard them say that this policy came into effect when joe torre took over operation of mlb. he felt game 3 was the most important and should be called (balls&strikes) by the crew chief. im not sure of what the policy was pre-torre.

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    • Kind of a funny story about that Diane.
      I was born in Milwaukee, we moved to Chicago when I was 6, moved to Dallas when I was 7-1/2 and moved to Houston when I was 9.
      I started liking sports when we lived in Dallas, and I did root for the Cowboys and the Oilers separately until the merger and then I switched over to all Houston teams.
      My younger brother is about 10 years younger than me and has Downs Syndrome. Often he would spend chunks of the summer up north with aunts and uncles and he got in this habit that drove us crazy – where he would cheer for the Milwaukee/Green Bay teams even if they were playing our Houston teams. It think he knew it gigged us. Anyways his pronunciation was never good, so he would always cheer for the “Blewers” against the Astros – so I’m pretty sure I will be facing that if that matchup occurs in the WS.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. Trade. The Astros get two young players that were not available to them last year. They don’t give up dollars. They just give up the availability to spend dollars. A solid move to get players they have scouted for no money, in a year when they aren’t allowed to spend a lot of money on young players.
    https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/marlins-acquire-international-pool-money-from-astros.html.
    This also allows them to fill the lower ranks of their minors with prospects, after a draft in which they drafted college players almost exclusively.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the fact that since they did not have that much money to spend internationally, that this allows them to pick up international talent that has already showed “something” after being signed by the Marlins. This is a very intelligent forward thinking front office.

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  9. Lineup for today
    Astros
    CF Springer
    DH Altuve
    3B Bregman
    1B Gurriel
    2B Gonzalez
    RF Reddick
    SS Correa
    C McCann
    LF Kemp

    P Keuchel

    Red Sox
    RF Betts
    CF Benintendi
    DH Martinez
    SS Bogaerts
    1B Pearce
    3B Nunez
    2B Kinsler
    C Vazquez
    CF Bradley Jr

    P Eovaldi

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  10. I said a prayer for this game this afternoon. Not that we would win, but that both teams would play their best today…and I admit I teared up when our guys names were introduced this afternoon. I can’t help it, I’m a girl and I love this team. Keep your fingers crossed that Dallas has a good first inning!
    PLAY BALL!!! GO ‘STROS!

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  11. Dan, I lived in Milwaukee for two years, 82-83 before relocating to Texas. Been so long can’t remember much about it other than the cold, lol. Taught karate at the Martin Luther King Center & won my 3rd Grand National Karate Championship when I defeated Wisconsin’s Champion. I had previously defeated Chicago’s and Canada’s Champions to earn that distinction.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Lucky breaks (poor def) like CC just now have gotten some of our guys on base but their plate discipline or lack thereof is maddening. Eovaldi is chew’em up with breaking balls out the zone & we keep flailing away. The middle of the lineup looks horrendous thus far but I’m hopeful for a breakthrough

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  13. Old School – we left Milwaukee back in 1962 but have gone back to visit many times over the years. Good town especially in the warmer weather. Great museums – bowling alleys everywhere- Summerfest with lots of great music acts down on the lake – every kind of cultural fest you can think of and if you get bored – Chicago is only 90 miles down the road.
    Karate champ – huh? Could have used you to break up some of these tiffs on the blog

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  14. I didn’t feel good about this game from the 1st inning. They didn’t play sound baseball in the loss Sunday and neither did they here. They better get theit act together or they’ll be watching the WS on TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m still thinking about OP’s post today. It was a good one. We probably will not win this one. We’ll likely have to win 3 of 4 to move on. But heck, all we have to do is win two in a row at home to put the pressure back on Boston. It’s far from over. Luhnow is indeed giving us a chance. Let’s see if some of our other guys have it in them.

    As an aside, I’ve been quietly concerned about Osuna. It’s got to be hard to be a closer and not get enough chances to pitch. But, his K’s per 9 innings are down from 11 something to 7 something this year. Huge difference for a guy who needs to miss bats.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Dan, What would be interesting is seeing actual footage of “sign stealing” and how it plays out. We all hear about it but I’ve yet to see a video of it.Personally, all this talk of “sign stealing” detracts from the game. BTW, I saw an IPad in the Boston dugout with a live feed of the game. Is that legal? Maybe all the teams have one but what’s the rules?

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  16. Oh how I lament not having a shutdown closer. The Hot Stove will have the puter geeks pouring over mounds of data to find the right kinda guy while I think finding a shutdown closer is more of a crapshoot. Good luck finding one. Kimbrel (35) is predicted to garner a contract north of $80 mil. Not interested here. More than anything the Stro’s need their hitting mojo back, and we all know one breakout gm can turn the tides quickly.
    My main complaint this series has been plate production, or lack thereof. The middle of the lineup on down has been atrocious & quite frankly, had it not been for BoSox back 9 bailing them out the series score might be very different. I don’t expect AJ to revamp his lineup given the fact no one behind Breg is offering him protection. I would flip flop Jose & Breg, they can’t walk them both. Our guys are being fed a steady diet of breaking balls, mostly outside the zone & we keep chasing into outs & soft contact. A little patience at the plate might be just what the doctor ordered, allowing them the opportunity to have that breakout gm.

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