And the magic rolls on

On Wednesday, Astro fans were facing the fact that their team had overperformed to beat the Twins and the A’s, and had not quite performed as well as the Rays in falling into a seemingly hopeless 0-3 pit in the ALCS. The man who had been the 2017 AL MVP and had walked off the ALCS in 2019, Jose Altuve had suddenly lost the ability to throw accurately to a base. The Astros had outhit the Rays, but the Rays had squeaked out 3 wins with timely hitting, decent pitching and unworldly defense.

But things turned around in that Wednesday game starting with a first-inning home run by the goat of Games 2 and 3, Altuve. Altuve then followed with a run-scoring double in the third inning. And of course, George Springer tried to launch one out of the stadium in the fifth inning giving the team a 4-2 lead.

The key to the game may have been when Dusty Baker did not pull Zack Greinke in the 6th inning with the bases loaded and he rewarded the manager by escaping with the lead. Cristian Javier plowed through the 7th and 8th innings and Ryan Pressly came in for a relief stint that allowed the Rays to pull within one run and left a runner 90 feet short of a tie. In this ninth inning, it was the Astros catching a couple screaming line drives from the Rays and with that, a small sliver of hope rose in Astro fans’ hearts after a 4-3 win.

On Thursday, George Springer hit the first pitch the Astros saw from the Rays and Carlos Correa in heroics reminiscent of his Game 2 walk-off in the 2019 ALCS, hit the last pitch the Astros saw this night. In between, there was a chess game of two managers attempting to get 27 outs from purely bullpen pieces. This was supposedly the Rays’ forte as they had the superior bullpen coming into this series, but the Astros bullpen under the direction of Dusty Baker held their own. He rolled out four rookies to cover the first 5.2 innings. Four rookies who had on the average, less than 20 innings of MLB regular-season experience. Before this year Luis Garcia had never pitched above A+ ball. Blake Taylor had made it to AAA. Enoli Paredes and Andre Scrubb had never pitched above AA. But in a critical win or go home match, these four pitchers held the rope and handed over a lead.

Brooks Raley also held the lead, Josh James allowed the Rays to tie it up, but Ryan Pressly pitched a much more solid 1.1 innings and earned the win when Correa went yard against Nick Anderson.

So, now the Astros head to Game 6 and hopefully Game 7 with the top of their playoff rotation, Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers Jr. ready to roll. Only 4 of the 39 teams that started 0-3 in a playoff series have made it to Game 6. Only one, the miracle Red Sox, have come all the way back. The pressure has now oozed back onto the Rays. Can the Astros continue their ways? We can say they have exceeded our expectations, but deep down we can picture this team doing the almost impossible. The next day or two will be interesting and potentially historical.

58 comments on “And the magic rolls on

  1. Yes, I have no expectations because it’s working. I can’t expect Framber to have the same game he gave us on Sunday. We need good at bats up and down the line up. Watching the Rays dugout last night after the walk off, it was pretty clear that some doubt had set in. They are too good to roll over though. Got to get them early and really shake their confidence level.

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  2. I couldn’t help but notice the attitude in the dugouts last night. Generally the Rays was very emotional and festive while the Astros were focused and business like. The Rays score and it’s a big party and celebration. The Astros score and it’s much more subdued. The Rays reminded me of the 2017 Astros which isn’t necessarily bad. The Astros only cut loose after Correa’s walk off. I don’t recall who the Rays player who the cameras were focusing on in the dugout after Correa’s walkout but he looked like he could have chewed nails.

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  3. Yeah that was an image, Z, of a man who was unbelievably angry.
    Best case today would be Framber giving another solid 6 or 7 inning outing, and then maybe if a Game 7 occurs maybe we see a Greinke/Javier tandem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A few things…..
    – When Correa came up to bat – I texted to my sons “C’mon Carlos – Walk-off”
    – I loved reading that Carlos had said to Baker “Walk-off” as he headed to bat and Baker told him to go do it and then prayed that it would happen because otherwise he was going to have to send Framber out and lose him for today.
    – Towards the end of this linked article, they talk about how Alex Cintron was able to do a quick adjustment with Correa that showed up in his 7th and 9th innng ABs
    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/astros-win-alcs-game-5-2020

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    • Oh, that’s good info on Cintron, Dan.
      Such a game of realtime adjustments, scouting in essence.

      I’d noticed how excited Snitker was in the dugout when Correa delivered, and hadn’t thought about Alex in awhile.

      (That will be a great storyline if the Astros meet the Braves in the WS, father/son coaches.)

      Tonight’s game, I’m worried about. Snell has been shaky, but he has the potential to pitch a perfect game. The pressure on Framber is ratcheted up from his last start.

      I’m not ready for this season to end, frankly.

      We are so close again. These kinds of opportunities are so fleeting in a lifetime. Since the Astros are on a downturn, Rays on the brightest of futures, THIS is as good a TIME as any year!

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    • I hope we score 4 in every inning he kills us the rest of the way. He’s in a tough slump right now that really got going the night he went 0-5 and hit the ball hard every time up. The beautiful thing is that Tucker just picked him up against a tough lefty sent in especially to get him out. Since Altuve had his breakdown, that’s what this team has been all about.

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  5. I remember when baseball was a pleasure to watch.
    This was torture with an added headache.
    Can’t imagine what tomorrow will be like.

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  6. Our buddy, Yani Diaz tries to get into Frambers head. Cudos to Maldonado, Correa, and Framber fo keeping their cool. It could have gotten nasty. Let’s go get that big win tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thoughts….
    – What a wild ride
    – Out of the 38 teams that had previously started 0-3, only one forced a game 7 and they won…..
    – I was texting back and forth with two of my sons (Note – in a wonderful dichotomy, I have 4 sons, two of which are sports nuts and two are normal human beings). I wanted to save Javier and Pressly for game 7, but realized Dusty wanted there to be a game 7 first. My sons were of the same mind
    – Man if we could have had a couple of those hits find holes in games 1-3, like they did tonight, we might already be in the WS
    – I sure hope Bregman and Gurriel do something positive soon -well Yuli’s 3 walks may be a start
    – Snell escaped from a bunch of problems in Game 1, but Cash may be scorched for not letting him do it in the 5th inning this time.
    – Tucker who had been scuffling – hit a couple big flies (one that left the field) the other way tonight for a couple insurance runs that were needed
    – Could Springer, Altuve, Brantley and Correa do any more than they have for the team’s offense?
    – Hey this is gravy folks, but I would love for this team to go back to the WS and shut up the baseball world

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m just blown away right now. Maybe it took game 61 for them to kick it into gear.

    Hey Dan old buddy…would you happen to know the Astros record after game 60 the 100 win seasons?

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    • Let’s see, Billy C

      2017 – They were 42-18 at 60 games and 59-43 after
      2018 – They were 37-23 at 60 games and 66-36 after
      2019 – They were 40-20 at 60 games and 67-35 after

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  9. My game seven post disappeared.

    Dan, everyone still hates the Astros. And more and more this week especially. It’s the one thing America agrees on.

    Are you calling us baseball fans weirdos?

    Boy, the Rays blog “fans” sure have turned on their troops. And after a relatively polite phase, they sure hate us with a renewed passion. But right now they hate everyone.

    I look for McCullers and Urquidy to get the job done tonight. Javier has got some outs in him too. I’d like the see our friend Charlie Morton pitch like he did during the regular shortened season. I think our bats have a game in them tonight.

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  10. -I never expected the Astros to get this far.
    -Yesterday’s nine-inning game lasted four hours and one minute.
    -I don’t think I have ever seen a batter take a BB and then yell at the pitcher for not throwing him the pitch he wanted.
    -Maldonado walks to the mound to talk to Valdez and then listens as Correa talks to Valdez.
    -A sacrifice bunt and a single through a wide-open right side is the sweetest baseball I have seen all year, including walk-offs. I think the baseball world was stunned.
    -Ever since the very first game of this series, I have thought these announcers were the fairest ones.
    -I told my wife to expect Aledmys Diaz to play against Snell because he had seen him in Game 1. Diaz was a factor last night, but I didn’t expect to see him in LF.
    -I couldn’t make myself watch the game in real time. I went to my blind for the fist half of the game and then came home and watched those 4 1/2 innings on video while the rest of the game was going on. It used to be that I could watch the Astros live, but shook like crazy when a nice buck came out in front of me. Now, it’s the opposite.
    -Yuli Gurriel drew 3 BBs last night.
    -If you had to face Valdez’s curve one night, would you choose to face LMJ’s the next?
    -I love Charlie Morton probably more than any former Astros player playing for another team, but….

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    • Two of the biggest heavyweights in the pressure cooker moments since 2017 — what a matchup to begin things.

      Lance has so often fallen just short of great expectations (an errant run here or there), but boy what a bulldog who knows how to pitch, field and limit damage. His brashness seemed to cause his players to seize up, where Biggio talked about the same influence Clemens had. So intense was their wrath, McCullers must reign that in, channel it toward confounding the Rays.

      Charlie has been brilliant as usual, but same as Cole, gettable! Same for Glasnow. Snell was the one worried me, and I thought Cash pulled him too soon. I don’t like the kid anyway, so if the Rays take another year off on the golf course, fine with me.

      I’d just as soon get back to settle a score with cry baby face, Joe Kelly. Betcha Carlos is too.

      One day at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. McCullers used to go to the movies on the day of his start…..now that the virus took that away, I wonder what he does now? Just me thinking out loud.
    If there ever was the saying “all hands on deck”….it’s tonight! Every one of you know how I feel about Charlie, even in a game like tonight I still love that guy even if he is on the mound facing our guys. I guarantee you he loves our guys, and that probably will never go away. Charlie said he owes his success to Brent Strom, who NEVER gave up on him, as well as A.J. Hinch. Those two men saw something else in Charlie that went beyond throwing a baseball, they saw a genuine gentleman who was far more than a pitcher. All of us saw the same thing. Long after he is out of baseball he will own a very special part of my heart❤. Best of luck tonight Astros…..you have managed to silence the nay sayers and shown everyone you belong…right Correa!!
    Dusty Baker is the right man for this team, he has won the respect of his players, and all of us fans.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Totally agree on Dusty. I had some doubts for a while but I like the way he handles this team.
    Win or lose they deserve respect but thanks to the commissioner it will be a long time before they get it.
    I’m with OP. Can’t watch in real time.

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  13. Bottom of the 9th and you have Tucker, Reddick, and Yuli..not gonna happen.
    At least they won’t get shut out. The look of disappointment on Correa’s face after Bregman struck out was unbelievable….one more hit and they COULD have been back in this game. Man…talk about a rally killer😣
    Always next year if Crane can bring George and Brantley back, I hope.

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  14. Reality having to step in. But at the hands of Charlie Morton, it was a less bitter pill to swallow.

    This odd exhibition season answered several questions for us. Paredes, Javier, Urquidy, Valdez, Tucker and it seems maybe a lefty or two will all be key elements of our 2021 roster.

    Is Lance going to be a go to starter, or is he going to be an erratic guy that gives us a great start one week and a not so great start the next week?

    I look for our GM to solve the other riddles, hopefully before the new year we’re all so looking forward to.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. 2020 is a tough year including all the stuff that happened to the world and our Astroworld. I would never compare our pain, as fans, to the pain and suffering of all of us who have faced coronavirus, lost friends and family to it or even suffered through the virus and overcame it.
    We use our fandom as a means of coping with illness, loneliness, loss, poverty or age.
    But, every end of the baseball year brings the start of a new one and we begin to build and craft a new team for the coming year. We even did that in the middle of a pandemic and a scandal.
    Here come the 2021 Astros.
    There is an elephant in the room that bears addressing. Justin Verlander.
    He is signed for 2021 for the Astros and will be payed but won’t play because of TJ Surgery. I’m sure all of this was discussed in length between the Astros, Verlander and his family and his agent.
    I believe Verlander will be released after the WS. The Astros need his roster spot to give to a young player who they would lose in the Rule 5 draft.
    Releasing him does not forfeit anything. The Astros would still be able to negotiate with him in the offseason next winter, but would also be able to protect a young prospect with his 40-man spot this winter.

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    • Well said 1OP. After battling back I was very hopeful we’d win game 7 but it was not to be. It still takes nothing away from this team who I think is still in the top tier of all MLB teams. What you said about JV makes perfect sense. I wouldn’t think anybody would pick him up just to carry him on the roster. I was exceptionally pleased how our pitching core and bullpen performed during the playoffs considering the little or no time spent at the MLB level. I do think it imperative that we try to resign Springer and Brantley to a deal. I know they’ll probably get offered huge bucks to play elsewhere but hopefully their heart is in Houston. When you’re making that kind of money what’s a couple of million dollars but what would I know. I can’t even conceive of making million of dollars.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully we can get Verlander signed for 10 or 15 million with enough incentives to get him back to 30 if he can perform. He’ll be 39 coming off of Tommy John. That would be a risky contract anyway you look at it.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. If anyone ever tells you that Jeff Luhnow is a genius, always point out he wouldn’t sign Charlie Morton after he had great numbers in 2018. Who else thinks the Astros win the WS in 2019 and don’t lose to Tampa in 2020 with Morton in our rotation.

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    • Charlie was on the injured list once in 2018. If he had stayed here, then we probably would not have extended Justin Verlander. In addition, Charlie had stated he wanted to go to Tampa Bay to be close to home with his family.

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  17. I am of the belief that the Astros should approach Correa and see about having him sign an extension, ala JV and Altuve. I feel that he overtook Springer as the club leader and will keep his foot on the gas.

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    • If Springer and Brantley want to stay in Houston I think a deal can be done. Greinke’s and Verlander’s salaries come off the books in 2022 so if we can work a deal to defer the large portion of their salaries till 2022 it would be quite nice. We’ll have 13MM from Reddick being gone and Correa will not be a FA until 2022. Question is do we try to keep Reddick if we can’t keep Springer and/or Brantley. It is going to be interesting.

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  18. If he knew about it, that was a big problem.
    If he didn’t know about it, that’s a bigger problem because that means the nuts were in charge of the squirrel patch.
    Either way, he was the head squirrel. It was his patch and it was a disaster.

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