Fun is back: Astros move on to the ALCS

Like most things in the year 2020, cheering for the Houston Astros has been a muted and distant experience. With no one in attendance, the shortened season, the modified rules and the shadow of COVID hanging over baseball and our lives the baseball experience was a blurry version of the norm.

But most of all the attitude and performance of the team created an atmosphere where fun was not on the menu. The team played as though they were embarrassed by the cheating scandal that emotionally gutted them in the off season and rightfully so. They had no strut to them. On top of this the rotation and bullpen had been devastated by free agency, injuries and illness (Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley, Will Harris, Hector Rondon, Collin McHugh, Justin Verlander, Jose Urquidy, Roberto Osuna, Brad Peacock and Chris Devenski). The position players had some strategic losses and time lost due to injury between Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, George Springer and Jose Altuve.

The Astros had to rely on a slew of newbies and young pitchers most of whom had never pitched above AA ball to lop up a bunch of innings. They struggled in tight games and with extra inning games under the revised rules. The team never looked right and limped down the stretch into the last spot on the AL side of the playoffs. Last year they would not have been even in contention for a playoff spot.

But the playoffs seemed to give the team new life. And Carlos Correa stepped up both on the field and off the field to remind the baseball world that the Astros were here, had beaten the Twins legitimately and the world better get used to it.

The victory over the A’s featured an offensive Renaissance for the Astros as baseballs were flying out of Dodger Stadium. Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Michael Brantley brought back the vibes from the last three seasons.

And watching the Astros having fun playing baseball allowed their loyal fans to have fun.

Will the fun continue? You shouldn’t bet against this team that has finally found their mojo.

31 comments on “Fun is back: Astros move on to the ALCS

    • I told my wife that the Ray’s hitter must have known what the pitch was, just like Altuve did last year, because the guy kept his shirt on the rest of the night.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Major League Baseball’s Personal Pet Favorite Team is out.
    I cannot begin to tell you how happy that makes me. Okay, I guess I just did.
    Now, the Ray’s are MLB’s new favorite in the ALCS and they still have their #2 favorite pet team playing a flyover state team in the NLCS.
    The Ray’s pitching is so solid. I hope the Astros play well against them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Astros play the Rays in prime time tomorrow- only because the Dodgers don’t start with the Braves until Monday when we slip back into the afternoon slot. They have not announced beyond that but I’ll give you one guess who gets the prime time spot.

      Like

  2. Ask me how big my (((GRIN))) was when Chapman gave up that homerun….yet again!! The look on his face was pretty different tonight than it was last year when Altuve hit the walk off homerun last year! Our guys may lose to the Rays but it made my day seeing the looks on the mighty yankees….in the dugout tonight! Prayers for Chip’s family in Baton Rouge as this hurricane is headed their way🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky – I’d sent Chip a note asking how his family did – they came thru fine – not as bad as Laura. He and Elizabeth has been in Louisiana before the storm and helped family members to prepare – then they headed to Northern Arkansas.

      Like

  3. Clearly the Rays will be tougher to beat than the (spit) Yankees but I am hilariously amused that the (spit) Yankees are already out. The circumstances just make it even more amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To Zanuda, Sandy, Billy C –
    It is good to see the Yanks out and the Rays in – this has turned out to be a playoffs without expectations as daveb (uncleknuckle) would say which is making every Astros win as a bonus.
    Go ‘Stros!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Odds and ends:
    -1OP wonders if Yuli Gurriel is hurting.
    – The Rays were dominant in every W/L category this season, except when they faced a LH starter.
    – As metric-oriented as the Astros are, they must not have liked the matchups with the pitchers they did not use in the ALDS. The Rays’ willingness to use all of their pitchers seems like an advantage, except if they used them too much.
    – The Astros offense dominated the pitching of the A’s. Can they do that against the Ray’s staff?
    – Does any of the baseball experts pick the Astros to win this series? I hope not.
    -This is the third series in a row the Astros have faced an AL division winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are some members of the media who grew up Dodgers fans and believe that 1) the Astros cheated throughout the 2017 WS 2) the Red Sox cheated throughout the 2018 WS and 3) the Dodgers were too busy helping old ladies across the street and serving meals in the soup kitchen to cheat during their playoff appearances. There is a reason the Astros players were so paranoid during the 2017 and 2018 playoffs about what the other teams were doing. This does not excuse our organization for their rule breaking or the behavior of the front office in 2019. The problem is MLB decided rather than trying to really fix the problem they would throw the Astros under the bus and declare everything is perfect.

      However, it would be stupid for sportswriters to say anything other than the Astros are all terrible people who deserve bad things to happen to them because that’s driving page views, subscriptions, etc. Journalism went out the window awhile back. Quite frankly, I think the organization and players deserve most of what they’re getting here. I think they need to come out and play with passion, sportsmanship, and be entertaining. I would really like to see us beat the Rays and then get a chance to beat the Dodgers or Braves.

      Liked by 2 people

    • What I think is funny is if the Astros success is based on cheating this season – why would they have not done it this regular season (I assume no one thinks that terrible regular season team was getting an advantage). If you could do it without being caught – why wouldn’t you do it then so people would not think their bad performance was due to not cheating.

      Like

  6. We’ve played 6 games and won 5. We might have to play 14 more to win it all. Yikes! But who knows? Dusty Baker, the manager who was getting roasted across the way on Wednesday night deserves a heck of a lot of credit. In a perfect world he would have known James was going to give up a three run shot in game three. But it’s not a perfect world. Just look at 2020. Anyway, our starters have to keep us in the game. We’re going to need at least one more guy in the pen to step up and have a positive impact. And we’re going to have to keep scoring runs in bunches. And yes, I’m still keeping my expectations ay bay. Much less anxiety this way!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. -Remember what I said about the Ray’s and LH starters? Framber Valdez is our starter in Game 1. That Also means he will be the first guy to start a second time and later on in the series come in and relieve.
    -It has hardly been talked about, but, Jose Urquidy’s only problem in his start against Oakland was that he absolutely could not throw a strike in the lower two portions of the strike zone. If it was a strike it was at the belt and Oakland belted it. He has to get the ball down. He cannot pitch up in the zone.
    – I’m just like Dave. I am satisfied and have no expectations. Even under the worst circumstances imaginable, the Astros are contending. “It”, Covid, unbelievable injuries, MLB’s payback schedule, and umpiring that indicates my granddaughter with coke-bottle bottom spectacles could do a better job, 10 rookies in the bullpen. And still they are in the ALCS.
    -Yep, I’m satisfied. The question is: Are the Astros satisfied?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Last year’s playoffs, Correa and Springer were both hurt and did not hit well.
    This year seems different and they both seem healthy and have been hitting, especially Correa.
    Last year’s playoffs, Altuve and Bregman were the two guys who carried the lineup. They both had down years in 2020 but seem to have found new playoff life.
    Brantley appears to be more refreshed after a 60-game season than he was after a 162-game season last year. He’s hitting like an All-Star.
    Gurriel seems like the Astros best chance to get over the hump. He has hit terribly the last month. If he should get his stroke back, it would be much harder for the Rays to keep up with the Astros. He is capable. Earlier in the season, when everyone was slumping, Gurriel carried this team.

    Like

  9. They’re outlasted the Yankees so what ever happens I’m happy.
    No one gave them a chance of getting out of the first round, most of us included.
    So no expectations. No stress.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi folks – just got back to the condo after our trip to see the kids. I got about half way through the preview for the ALCS before having to drive home. So it is a preview with a peek at the first game.

    Like

  11. Tough break as Bregman lines into a DP. Snell misplays a come backer to load them up but Maldonado flies to right to end it. Feel like we’re so close to a big inning so lets keep the pressure on. Framber has faced the minimum.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s