Now it gets hard for Astros


Coming into the playoffs Astro fans had concerns about the back end of the starting rotation, the offense’s inability to hit with RISP and some concerns about pieces of the bullpen.

Well, the starting rotation concerns have moved up to include #3 starter Zack Greinke, the offense has disappeared the last two games, but the bullpen has been good except for a few problems in a lost cause Game 3 against the taxi tough Tampa Bay Rays

The Astros have not had a must win game this season. That changes Friday. We can all have concerns about how continued problems will be addressed in a potential ALCS matchup with the Yankees. Forget it. All that matters is that the Astros figure out how to play like the team that won the most regular season games in the MLB this year in Friday’s game.  If they don’t do that – then it will be time to lament the past and to look into the far future of the 2020 season.

So….

– Will the Astros take care of business in Game 5 against the Rays?

– If they get past the Rays, do you believe that the problems with Justin Verlander and Greinke in the last two games can be chalked up to too little time between starts and too much time between starts respectively?

– Is there anything the Astros can do to jumpstart this offense? Pick the lineup order out of a hat? Strap their arms down so they can only swing 75%?

– Can you forgive the mistakes of Hinch and his coaches in the last couple days? Do you trust them going forward?

– If they get past the Rays are they too flawed to get past the Yanks? Will they be better off in a 7 game than a 5 game series?

 

 

72 comments on “Now it gets hard for Astros

  1. OK, I’ll take the bait.
    *Hoping the offense (or lack there of) decides to show up for game 5 or it makes no difference whose on the mound. If they do show up, we will win.
    *Many may disagree with me but it was a big mistake to start JV in Game 4. It was obvious in the 1st inning that he was having trouble locating his pitches. Three days rest just ain’t enough! It also told me that Hinch had no confidence in his #4 starter and maybe his #3 now. Sorry, you can’t win with 2 CY candidates pitching all the games. The BP did a good job and should be commended for their efforts. How would you feel if you had been pitching all along and then got bypassed in a game that was not win or go home.
    *The game was winnable but once again the offense was almost totally inept. In the 1st two innings I watched as Castillo threw 88/89 mph fastballs right down the middle and nobody swung at them . They waited until the off speed, breaking ball, cutter, slider or a 98 mph heater was thrown and then they swung and missed of took a call third strike. If they are going to advance they need to be ready to hit those pitches for something more than a pop up or ground out.
    *As far as the coaching goes, Hinch and his staff get a D. I’ve already voiced my opinion of using JV and Pettis’ sending Altuve home (although they made two great throws to get him out). Got to be smarter than they are.
    *The Yankees are the Yankees. I dislike them and some of their obnoxious fans immensely. They can be beaten but you have to play great baseball to do it. We are capable but we need to win tomorrow to even think about it.
    It’s time for these guys to step up and show us something. It’s time to play smart. If you have to bunt for a base hit to beat the shift or move a runner over, than do it. Home Runs are nice but lets get some guys on base 1st. As always, I’ll always be a fan win or lose.

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    • Zanuda , I agree that starting Verlander on short notice was not good. I hope they don’t ever do that again. At least we’ll be home foe this do or die game. You just know the Yankees are beyond happy with this turn of events.

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      • No, I agree. The Astros were the favorites but Hinch has managed like they were the underdog and taken a risk that did not pay off. Altuve would have been safe at home had he not looked back into the outfield to see where the ball was after rounding third base. Those are the kind of mistakes you make when the situation in the game is getting into your head. The entire team needs to relax and do their jobs. Like I said last night, though, I don’t think the hitters were comfortable in that park. They weren’t recognizing pitches and were arguing about pitches that were clearly strikes. That tells me they were having trouble tracking the flight of the ball and were only going on what it looked like out of the hand.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Zanuda , I agree that starting Verlander on short notice was not good. I hope they don’t ever do that again. At least we’ll be home foe this do or die game. You just know the Yankees are beyond happy with this turn of events.

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  2. By all means, I have confidence the Astros will put things together tomorrow night. I wonder if they they strolled into TB just a bit arrogant, thinking they would win one more and get home early. Not to be. I hope they got that wake up call. As it turns out, the Rays are a pretty talented club.

    And absolutely, Greinke and Verlander are both very capable of giving any team fits. They’ll be fully rested and hopefully they’ll get that chance to redeem themselves this weekend.

    I think the offense is about to be jump started. Both George and Brantley hit the ball hard last night. Alvarez, with a bit of loft would have made the score 3-2. He crushed that ball. Reddick hit the ball hard too. I’ll be a bit dismayed if our bats sleep through an entire five games series. And that would likely be the kiss of death.

    Did Hinch and his coaches make any mistakes? I still don’t think starting Verlander was a bad move. We lost 4 -1. Had we won 5-4, we’d be saying Verlander gave us a gutsy performance and the pen was great And we pretty much send runners aggressively all the time. That’s Astro baseball. When it works out we’re happy. That replay was something else. I’ve never seen a better relay.

    Our guys are flawed enough to get beat by any team if they don’t play good baseball. We’ve seen stinkers against good and bad teams. Right now our timing sucks. But the flip side is that our guys have not put together a whole game yet. If they do that tomorrow, we’ll keep playing and won’t get swept by the Yankees.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Last week when Cole had that UNBELIEVABLE game….he pitched into the 8th inning nursing a 1 -0 lead. It wasn’t until we scored 2 more runs, after an Rays error that Cole could breath. This team is sooo talented it’s crazy that these guys have scored so few runs. You can bet your blue booties Gary Pettis was talked to after the Altuve screw up. I’m going to keep yelling to the top of my lungs……..
    IT’S OK TO PLAY SMALL BALL!! The Rays now have the Astros on their heels….it’s totally up to our guys if they want to keep playing, or be sent home for a long winter. I’m not usually a “Debbie downer”, but I’m not convinced they can pull this off tomorrow night. I hope they prove me wrong.⚾

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m hoping we see a hit parade by our guys early and often. It’s long overdue. Save the launch angle shots after scoring 30 runs. While AJ can cobble together pitching as needed, if the offense ain’t scoring runs it won’t matter how good this tm pitches. I won’t think beyond to the NYY until we get past TB. I do believe we’ll see a more relaxed, focused tm at home.

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  5. Well, the Braves seem to be todays upset underachieving ball club, back home safe for game 5 but blown out of their own park by a talented rookie and a bunch of offense. I think Mr. Andujar summed it up in one word, “you never know”.

    I don’t think we’ll be playing small ball tomorrow. We’ll win or lose using the same formula that got us into the post season. It’s up to our guys to make it happen in a big game. I think they’ll be up to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I went back and watched the last two games. JV, nor Hinch, nor Pettis, nor Greinke, nor the bullpen batted one time. So was can blame the guy selling popcorn. But the fact is the hitters STUNK except for a couple swings. If they hit, we win game 5. If they do a repeat, it’s vacation time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Washington Nationals beat the Dodgers!! How is Kendrick hit a grandslam to break the 3-3 tie!!! This is pretty cool….I was pulling for them BIG time!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. All year long, the questionable parts of the Dodgers for me was their bullpen and their managerial decisions.
    In the end, their bullpen and it’s management was their undoing.
    Dave Roberts has three years left on his deal, but he makes only a little over $1 million a year. I see his job as being in jeopardy.

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  9. Blake Snell doing some talking: “When their (Astros) top of the lineup is hitting, them dudes wild out. They find the camera and find a way to get everyone pumped up. They get the fans pumped. So for us to limit them is huge. You’ve got to slow them down and make them doubt themselves.” Cash agreed: “Get the ball down on Springer.” Snell: “(Our) bullpen is probably the hottest in the game.” Jose Altuve: “It’s really hard to not know who you’re going to face next at-bat.” AJ Hinch: “You know, what will help us is playing with the lead and scoring more runs. That will help more than any sort of experience.”

    [Chron snippets]

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      • Yes indeed Dan, I don’t think we can expect our Cy Young 1A to throw goose eggs all night. The bats have to finally play a positive role, or we’ll be following the Dodgers home.

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  10. Perhaps this spate of managerial firings will spur an evolution of new innovations when it comes to hiring managers, meaning the end of the status quo in hiring the usual suspects.
    The networks seem focused on & harping on Astro pitching, as if that is our Achilles heel this post season. It has been problematic but not as much as our hitting away from MMP. They have not embraced what this blog has known and touched on from mid season forward, our hitting with the bases juiced. What hitter would I want at the plate in a close gm, the bases juiced with 2 outs? YG of course. This is not a criticism or loss of confidence necessarily in the rest of the top or middle batting order, but they have not been clutch like they need to be. YA has helped extend some innings & GS came out of his slump last game, so I’m very encouraged our guys will get the job done at home finally, else, as Dave noted, they go by the way of the mighty Dodgers.

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  11. There’s one guy who will turn this around tonight and that’s BREGMAN.
    He put this team on his back when Altuve, Correa, Springer and Diaz were gone for 6 weeks. Look to Bregman to get it going tonight. If that happens, I will feel like they have a chance.

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  12. wow having real problems commenting for some reason.
    if you had asked me before the season started would you take a 107 win astro team, going into #5 of a 5 game series, at home, with cole on the hill, would you take it? im sure i would have said something like – well hell yes! i think most all of the blog would have agreed. well now we have it. lets win and go on to the next step. i feel pretty confident we will.

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    • Would certainly have taken it, rrj. It’s just that this TB team is way better than I had any knowledge of. The problem with our hitting is their pitching. 🙂

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  13. Got to get more runs. These guys will not go away easily. But I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear from the top of the order again tonight.

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  14. Their 1st inning AB’s was a thing of beauty. They saw ball, hit ball, taking what the pitcher gave them. Now it looks like free swinging, including launch angle shots. Get back to what got you 4 runs pls, why quit doing what gave you success?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Line drives guys….Stop trying to lift the ball! Question is, do pitching changes count as mound visits? If so TB should be down to 1.,\

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  16. Heck of a series. Rays made it very tough. 110 wins now. Our guys deserve to advance. I feel good about our chances this weekend. One thing about the Rays. They did everything possible with their pitching staff to win this five game series. But I don’t see how they could go 14 more games using their staff the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Garrit Cole went to the mound thinking he had the weight of the world on his shoulders….and the guys gave him breathing room! The 2 homeruns by Altuve and Brantley were the icing and cheery on top! Getting through this weekend will be a little dicey, but I think they will be fine. I was crying in the first inning because getting those 4 runs gave me hope. If you don’t have a dirty uniform you didn’t play hard enough….THEY HAD DIRTY UNIFORMS TONIGHT⚾!!

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  18. -Pagan looked exhausted out there for Tampa. It seemed as though he was the first Rays reliever to have the high pressure series wear him down.
    -For the first time in the series the Astros lineup took it to the Rays. It happened in the first inning and it lasted one inning.
    -Brantley’s home run was the highlight of the series for me. He struggled and then he put the game away and finally broke Tampa’s back.
    -Why do I think that Greinke and Verlander’s struggles in Tampa might make them that much better this weekend?
    -Is it just me or did Tampa’s pitching staff make Yordan look like a rookie?
    And still he hit .300 in the series.

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  19. Posted those player/coach quotes yesterday in vague hope they might get passed on and light a fire under somebody. In any case, ‘Tuve and Bregman and couple others were passing some kind of info on to each other even on the field. Maybe they picked up something on Glasnow, maybe not. But in the end, it was probably Janet Flood’s home-baked “win cakes” that she had ready for the guys when they got back.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. So Forrest Whitley has now posted three excellent outings in the Arizona Fall League to date. Is he just a tease, or can we start to look ahead to having him join the rotation out of Spring Training?

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      • Dan, you’re right. I was looking at that Jacob Nix story. The guy, at 6’3″ and 220 was caught trying to squeeze through a doggie door. I’m thinking he had to be pretty messed up. Then I realized he and Whitley have both been playing for Peoria in the AFL. Those two guys should not be hanging around each other.

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    • I saw an interview with Whitley. He said that he was asked to make a radical change in his delivery upon being sent back to the minors this season.
      He admitted that it was a change that needed to be made for him to be a successful starter and that it involved him going from a more crouched delivery, that he has pitched with throughout his career, to an upright delivery.
      Because of his height, he had major problems locating his pitches and adjusting their height pitching from an upright delivery. When he got bombed early in AAA he was sent to Florida to work on this and also to rehab from some shoulder soreness that resulted from the changes.
      Whitley said that he is becoming more and more comfortable with his motion and thinks he has his command and confidence in his motion back and it is showing in Arizona.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Some playoff observations:
    -St. Louis has home field advantage in the NLCS, even though they had a worse regular season record than Washington.
    -The Tampa Bay Rays had the lowest bullpen ERA in baseball for the regular season, but their bullpen threw 193 more innings than the Astros bullpen did.
    -Team ERAs for the regular season:
    1. Dodgers 3.37
    2. Rays 3.65
    3. Astros 3.66
    14. Yankees 4.31

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    • We know the Yankees will hit. But as far as basic defensive stats go, they are ranked 20th.

      We’ll get to see how much team defense plays a role in helping determine the winner of the ALCS.

      Like

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