ALDS: Good start in first two games

Dan P is writing on his phone on the road, so this will be short and sweet today.

The Astros could not have asked for a better start to their 2021 playoffs. They won two games in very different ways to stand on the cusp of a fifth straight trip to the ALCS. They rode a terrific outing by Lance McCullers in the first game and slowly ground out six runs to methodically strangle the life out of the White Sox. They allowed the Pale Hose to get a lead in the second game, came back to tie it, and buried them with a five-run rally late.

The Astros deep offense (for everyone not named Martin Maldonado) was on full display. Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel were shut out in the first game and came back huge in the second game. Yordan Alvarez showed what scary is all about with some bullets to the outfield and beyond. Alex Bregman is hitting, Jose Altuve was getting on and getting home, Carlos Correa was clutch and Michael Brantley, while not on fire, had a huge hit and 2 RBIs. Even the two-headed CF of Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers both knocked in a run in their first playoff exposure.

Lance was as good as you could expect on the pitching side, while Framber Valdez was shaky. The bullpen sometimes having more traffic than you want to hold the rope with Phil Maton, of all people having the most significant moment.

Defense gets short shrift in talking about the Astros, but the defense led by Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker, especially in the second game, was a difference-maker.

Will this show play as well on the road? We shall see come Sunday.

89 comments on “ALDS: Good start in first two games

  1. One comment all day?
    Well! Braves evened it up with Brewers and the Dodgers are in the process of doing the same with the Giants.
    All of the series soon will be even, except for, well, ya know.
    Now, somebody else needs to add some comments.
    Wake Up!

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  2. A&M just beat Alabama who had not trailed in about 58 quarters.
    Does that count as a comment?
    Anyways – proud of my Astros and hoping they keep it rolling tomorrow.

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  3. I saw a snarky comment on another site. This person said the reason MLB put up screens from dugout to dugout was NOT because of foul balls. The screens were required because Jonathan Villar still plays 3rd base. (He had 15 errors this year)

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  4. I know that the odds – and the money – are against a three-game sweep. But I am rooting for Luis Garcia to pitch his best game of his young career. Win or lose, show ’em what you are made of, Luis!

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  5. All playoffs are 1-1 excepts for the Astros. A sweep today would be great and maybe all of those naysayers would think differently (probably not). Hoping for good things in the windy city.

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  6. I keep reading: The White Sox need to do this to beat the Astros. The White Sox need to do that. The Sox need to do these things and get lucky.
    The pressure is on. This season, when the pressure is on the Sox in games against Houston, the Sox didn’t field real well.
    I’m anxious to see if the Astros can score first and put the pressure on.

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  7. I took a look at the Sox blog yesterday. For such a storied baseball town, the mob on the site is not the most astute group. Their grounders did not find holes. Ours did. Every hard hit ball was right at an Astro. Ours luckily dropped in. All those walks that turned into runs were unearned. No mention of our defense. One guy called Altuve a cheating runt. I guess all that is to be expected. I’d sure like to see a statement game out of our guys tonight. We’ll probably see a lot of curve balls from Cease. He walks some guys and is prone to throwing a lot of pitches. We’ve hit him before.

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  8. Dylan Cease against teams w/ below .500 records:
    Games 23
    Record 11-4
    ERA 3.12
    Dylan Cease against teams w/ above .500 records:
    Games 9
    Record 2-3
    ERA 6.04
    Dylan Cease against Houston:
    Games 2
    Record 0-2
    ERA 9.00
    Stats are for 2021 only

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  9. I’ve got a uneasy feeling about this game simply because these guys usually sleep walk after a day off….let’s hope that’s not the case tonight. Garcia tends to get hyped up the first couple of innings in a regular start, and I’m pretty sure he’s gonna be even MORE tonight. Thank goodness Maldonaldo is there to calm him down, they’re not giving him a pitch count just monitoring his performance. Which brings me back to who’s Dusty going to bring in for multiple innings. Javier or ?? Graveman might not be broken, but he sure makes life hard on himself. …let’s hope they don’t need him tonight.
    I’m not sure but did Solomon make the playoff roster?
    I’ve already taken my blood pressure meds, so I won’t stroke out tonight!
    GO ‘STROS⚾

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  10. Nice job so far in the second as Yordan and Carlos draw walks, Tucker gets ahead on the count and smashes a 2 run double and Meyers has another great at bat for an RBI single – 3-1 Astros.

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  11. Killer Kyle hits that gapper in the second inning and then turns around and hits one out the other way to give us a 5-1 lead in the third. The crazy crowd is a lot quieter now….

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    • I wasn’t aware that umpires hit home runs but Hallion just hit one. He’s already missed about a half dozen calls. The White Sox’s 10th player. Why isn’t Solomon on the roster? Back to the hit parade. Let’s go guys.

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  12. Garcia was terrible and then Garcia was even worse.
    Hard to believe the Astros had a 5-1 lead and the crowd was dead. The Series was ours and then poof.

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  13. We gave our rookie a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately, I think he lost his composure after not getting that high strike call that resulted in the two run shot by Grandal. They had life. Tucker remains amazing. Alvarez looked hopelessly lost at the plate. Grienke threw all the ground balls we needed. That’s a very tough non-rule that caused the controversey. I’ve never seen it happen before. Javier looked good too. Raley should not be allowed to pitch to righties.

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  14. Frustrating game – we had the series there for the picking and gave back the lead and eventually the game. Is Tom Hallion related to Joe West? Older ump whose ball/strike calling skills sucked and is all defensive about it. I don’t mind them missing calls near as much as I mind them not being consistent. That drives me crazy.
    So – I guess if you have someone on third base and you hit a grounder you need to run right at the fielder – even if it is someone on the left side of the infield and nothing stops that from happening as long as you don’t stick a hip out into the thrown ball. Have never seen that play before. So I guess we should also run straight at the guy turning a double play instead of floating out of the way of the thrown ball as is the norm?

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  15. Anyone notice that Altuve, Brantley, Alvarez, Correa, Gurriel and Maldonado were a combined 1 for 20 in this game?
    How about 16 strikeouts for the team and only 6 hits?

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  16. Many years ago, Saturday Evening Post (I think) ran a column that said “You think you know baseball” and it would have weird plays explained. I found out at a very young age, I really don’t know the rules APPARENTLY. I read several articles on line today about different interpretations of the play with Grandal. Ignore the fact he bats left (a right handed batter would need to cross over home plate and perhaps enter fair territory). Ignore the fact of how far inside he was. I think it was ESPN article that said, if any infielder throwing to first hit him, he would be out, but because it was a throw to home, it was not interference. At that point, I KNEW I didn’t know nor understand the rules. It didn’t cost the Astros the game, but it certainly was a head scratcher. (And YES he needs to run only the second half of the trip to first.)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sometimes rules or their interpretations are just plain wrong. I don’t give a happy rat’s ass about that . Grandal obviously knew what he was doing and he definitely interfered with the throw. He was 4′ or more out of the baseline. And as I said earlier Hallion is now on a par with Angel Hernandez. He definitely screwed us over. Maldy had two walks and got rung up. Garcia struck out Grandal and got another pitch. He threw it in just about the same spot as before and he swung at it because he knew it was a strike the first time. I know I’m beating the dead horse and yes we had way too many K’s but the momentum swing was tremendous. Also it was mentioned by Tepera that we were “cheating” again by stealing signs in Houston. Our guys always seem to be classy and respectful. Maybe it’s times for us to fight back. I can’t remember when I was as PO’d about this game than any before. Sorry about the rant.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. OK and now Sox pitcher Tepara is saying because the Astros struck out 16 times in the one road game and 16 times in the two home games that they are cheating again.
    The Astros were the best hitting road team in the AL this season. They were not the best hitting home team – but they were good.

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    • I don’t expect accusations to go away anytime soon just like I don’t expect clowns to stop putting their oversized shoes in their mouths. Then again, perhaps he feels the need to defend his teammate who was clearly attempting to block a throw home without being too obvious and got away with it.

      Liked by 2 people

    • That’s the stupidest remark I’ve ever heard. The Astros scored almost as many runs yesterday as they did in the home games.
      The Astros won those home games because Chicago couldn’t score any runs.
      Doesn’t make any sense.

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  19. The way you fight back about that which you think was not right is to fight back on the field and defeat your opponent. Win game 4 or game 5 and Chicago is finished and they can stay home and complain about anything they want and nobody will pay attention to them, just like no one cares what we or our team thinks about the umpires.
    It doesn’t matter. Winning this series matters. It’s the playoffs!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Urquidy has been very good at home this year. If there is a game 5, he would start that. The Astros would rather have Lance pitch tomorrow on normal rest. They figure he might be better pitching in Chicago, than would Urquidy.

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  21. File this under vent/rant: I can’t stand politicians that lie/steal/etc. to you. Then they get caught, and they admit to the lie/steal/etc. BUT then tell you they did it for your own good or some other crock. That is what bothers me the most about the Grandal call. Tell us it is not reviewable. Tell us you couldn’t see it. Whatever, but don’t tell us : “When he came out of the box and started running he didn’t veer off.”

    That is not true. Grandal started on the chalk line, went off the dirt, and then went another 3-5 feet on the grass. The umpire is telling us that we can’t believe our eyes. THAT is what is most offensive to me. And that’s 40 on the rant.

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    • Baseball has quite a few gray areas. And even with instant replay, there is still a whole lot of imperfect judgement going on by old guys in blue laying on their asses at home plate, protected by a very strong union whether they are good at their jobs or not. It’s pretty much the American way. And on the baseball field itself, the onus has always been on the thrower to get the ball to the guy he’s throwing the ball to, even when a good baserunner massages the rules of interference. Umpires do not like to make these calls.

      On Sunday night the Rays lost what may have been the winning run in extra innings when a ball of the wall then bounced off the Sox fielder and then went over the wall for a ground rule double. Had that ball not bounced off the Sox player and gone over the wall, the baserunner would have scored easily from first. Instead he was sent back to third, and the Rays did not score. The series flipped on that play.

      I’m guessing the Astro players have already forgotten about the non call along the first baseline. I sure hope so. It was a tough game for our guys. Several unfortunate things happened. But we also got our butts kicked. We did not play well enough to win. Today we can correct that.

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  22. The Rays’ loss last night was a huge blow to their organization. After having the best record in the AL, they might have blown their two best chances to win the WS.
    Boston and New York have reset their luxury tax status and will probably do some reloading this spring.
    Toronto has a good offense and some money to spend on pitching.
    Baltimore’s prospects will be coming along soon.
    Glasnow’s injury, after Morton and Snell’s departures may mean the Rays take a step back.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Lineup….
    Jose Altuve 2B
    Michael Brantley LF
    Alex Bregman 3B
    Yordan Altuve DH
    Carlos Correa SS
    Yuli Gurriel 1B
    Kyle Tucker RF
    Jake Meyers CF
    Martin Maldonado C

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  24. Dusty wanted him to be available for Game 6?
    He was struggling a little in the 4th inning, but I don’t know if that was the reason or not. I was surprised they didn’t back him with Urquidy

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  25. I have absolutely no issue with our manager today. This club quietly and completely embarrassed the White Sox on their own field in an elimination game. Hitting, pitching, defense, baserunning, small ball, big ball, manager decisions, all facets of the game. In fact the Astros beat the crap out of these guys in 3 of 4 games. Good first round. I hope both halves of our centerfield combo are well.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Congratulations, Astros and Astro fans. 10-1 on your heir home field, with 4 stolen bases and a complementary dinger in the 8th for good measure sure feels right.

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  27. Astros score 15 runs in two home games and 16 runs in two road games, while the Blanco Sox score 13 runs in two home games and 5 runs in two road games. Why the big disparity, Tepera?

    Liked by 1 person

  28. *The Astros responded to Tepara with seven runs. But they responded to De La Russa with three more in the ninth. You know that the Astros were ready to go home and rest, but, I think every Astros player in that dugout wanted some more after the White Sox manager was allowed to go out on the field and stop that game for ten minutes and not get tossed.
    * Who cheers when a player gets hit by a fastball? Seriously, drunk men and classless women are cheering when Altuve gets hit. Boy, did he have an answer for them. Chicago, you are what you are.
    * 14 hits, 10 runs and nine Ks. Turned the series completely upside down. A Chicago blackout turned into an Astros orangeout.
    * As hard as Verducci tried, the Astros would not talk about Cora after the game.
    * All AJ Piershitski wanted to talk about during the series was the White Sox. After it was over, all he wanted to talk about was the Astros. MLB must be blind and deaf.
    * The Astros were much better at night than the daytime during the season. They won all three day games and lost the night game in this series. Wow! Then again, there was the damn umpire in that night game, wasn’t there?

    Liked by 3 people

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