Poking the bear rarely works, Astros move on

White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera pitched effectively in the recent four-game ALDS loss to the Astros. He allowed 1 run in 4.2 innings and allowed 2 hits and no walks in his three appearances. However, he may well have been the Astros best friend when after the Sox Game 3 win, he implied the Astros were cheating at home, and that was why they were shut down with 16 Ks in game three.

The facts are that the Astros still scored six runs in that third game, that the Astros had the best road offense in baseball this season, and that it was actually the White Sox who had a much better offense at home than on the road. And in a bit of circumstantial evidence turned around, Ryan Tepera had a 1.82 ERA in his first 33 games this season, but in the last 32 games, after the MLB started checking for sticky stuff, his ERA was a much worse 4.05. Just sayin’…..

After an entire season of fan harassment, the Astros were probably numb to that particular cause for motivation. However, having a foe bringing this up to the national press seemed to get their full attention. After falling behind 1-0 early, the offense came alive with the veterans like Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve leading the way. When the smoke cleared, and with an over the top protest of a hit by a pitch by Tony LaRussa slightly upsetting the festivities, the Astros won the ALDS with a complete 10-1 beat down.

It was a team effort in this series, but the Astros offense shined through the most. Even with AL batting champ Yuli Gurriel squeezing out three singles in 17 at bats and Martin Maldonado putting up one single in 15 at bats, the rest of the lineup was hot and productive.

  • Leadoff man Jose Altuve scored nine runs (three more runs than the Sox had in their three losses) and punctuated the Astros’ domination with a ninth-inning three-run homer in the 4th game.
  • Top OF Kyle Tucker had a national coming out with 5 runs scored, 2 homers, a team-leading seven RBIs and two back to back stolen bases in the 4th game that led to a back-breaking 3 run rally.
  • Michael Brantley (.368 BA), Alex Bregman (.375 BA), Jake Meyers (.375 BA), Carlos Correa (.385 BA) and Chas McCormick (.400 BA) all flooded the bases with baserunners for the series.
  • Yordan Alvarez was quiet in the last two games but was critical early with a homer, double and 3 RBIs.

The pitching staff was led by likely and unlikely heroes along the way.

  • Lance McCullers Jr. started two wins and only gave up 1 run in 10.2 innings before leaving with a bothersome arm injury.
  • In a huge surprise, Phil Maton threw three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and no walks.
  • Ryan Pressly and Ryne Stanek both had three scoreless appearances in the series.
  • Cristian Javier made the most of his one relief appearance, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings with six Ks.

Now the Astros move on to play the red hot Red Sox in their fifth straight ALCS. But that is a post for another day.

28 comments on “Poking the bear rarely works, Astros move on

    • 1. Correa has always had an agenda. He loves to talk about his pending free agency, even if the other side of his mouth says otherwise.
      2. The guy is a beat writer for the Cubs.

      Regardless, it’s pretty clear that Carlos is not distracted while on the field right now. That’s all I give a crap about this week.

      Totally separate, but has our GM been put in isolation? Our man Click sure is a quiet guy publically, but has he been quoted even once since post season play started?

      Liked by 2 people

  1. The more loudmouths out there accuse us of cheating, the more I know we are doing something right. If they complain loud enough, I won’t even have to look at the box score to know we won by scores like, oh, say 6-1, or 9-4, or 10-1.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Of course Cora will use every trick in the book, and maybe a few things outside the book to beat the Astros, but I don’t think his club will be making any foolish statements, certainly not him, but not his players either.

    And I do think Boston fans are a bit more enlightened than their counterparts from the Southside of Chicago. I’m looking forward to a really good series, a real roller coaster ride.

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    • I absolutely love Jeremy Pena! Did you see Baker hugging him so hard after the White Sox clinching game in the party celebration?! It was awesome the Astros had Taylor Jones too, so those guys get to see in advance what’s expected of them. Pena doesn’t have the arm of Correa, but he’s an absolute glass of wine in the field. If you want to keep an eye on another kid to possibly replace Altuve after ’23 … Enmanuel Valdez led the minors’ teams with 26 HR, another great glove. And if Shay Whitcomb can cut down K’s, he’s a sleeper. I’d throw in the towel on Kessinger, like Dawson, drafted way too high!

      Really hated to see Meyers go down, and he almost added to his legend of a elite CF. Speaking of the same situation, Colin Barber broke his shoulder this year on a similar play. At the time, he was leading all minor leagues in xOBA.

      One other we all know about Pedro Leon. I have him comp’d with Luis Robert. just wait til he hits the weight room this offseason. A real animal. Our team has never had an 80 grade arm as a prospect, except maybe Hidalgo?

      Have a great day, Op, and Chip’s family at the blog.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. How does La Russa, justify his tantrum after seeing the 95 MPH fastball that hit Altuve to start the Astros game winning rally in the top of the third inning?
    Rodon had just struck out Maldonado to lead off the inning and had thrown all 6 of his pitches to Maldy in the strike zone, including 4 fastballs.
    Then, his first fastball to Altuve hits Jose right square above the elbow.
    If La Russa is an old school baseball guy, what happened to “you hit my guy, I hit your guy”?

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    • LaRussa justifies it because he knew that Rodon was not trying to hit Altuve, but rather was trying to keep him from diving out over the plate. It’s actually a different situation than what Baker was in. Baker knew Graveman wouldn’t have been trying to hit Abreu on a 3-2 pitch even though the at bat was meaningless in the context of the game, but was likely confused by just how many feet he missed the target. LaRussa expected the Astros to retaliate for that reliever’s comments after game 3, though. With his team destined to lose and head into the postseason he didn’t want to waste the opportunity to throw the tantrum and show the players how much he supports them. Instead of talking about his pitchers getting thumped and hitters struggling against Houston he gets to talk about our team being low class or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Other Astros news:

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    • I’m not near his age and some days retirement seems like a great idea. He certainly deserves it and we would only be able to say – thank you for a great tenure with the team….but let’s nurse this staff through the next two rounds first….

      Liked by 1 person

    • The writing has been on the wall for Strommie, if you listened to his podcasts for the last year. He said Josh Miller is going to be a Star in this league, as is Bill Murphy. Baker gets too much credit/criticism for pitching moves because those two make many of the decisions we see. I would still bet Strom keeps a consulting job with us because he’s heavily invested in so many guys in the org. He’s one of the most unique individuals, staying up at night praying for his pitchers, they all want to do well for him, ya can’t imagine. Collin McHugh explained it well, about his time here. Strom came from shaving dogs to the Astros pitching coach, to finally starting to travel to Italy with his wife. He and his wife deserve time away from the pressures associated with the position.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The rumor is the worst case scenario for Lance McCullers. It makes me very, very sad. Jake Odorizzi will be expected to step up big time, and those who said Click did a terrible job planning this year (despite Mr. Verlander leaving us in a complete lurch), his moves are going to be tested to the max in 2021.

    For those who say we should have done more at deadline, you will see the fruits next Amateur and International drafts! We can see what getting Ozuna did for the A’s, or Bauer for the Dodgers. Right about now, staying under the tax threshold of further penalties was the ONLY correct move.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Looks like LMJ is indeed out of the ALCS.
    The Cardinals fired their manager and the Yankees fired their two hitting coaches and Phil Nevin, their 3B coach. None of these coaches hit well this season and obviously underperformed.
    The Yankees kept their manager who managed well, and all of their players who played well enough to not get past the wild card, and their POBO who POBOed well on just $205 million of the Yankees money, plus some of the Rangers money, some of the Cubs money and some of the Marlins money.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have to admit, I’d never heard of Mike Shildt until late in 2019. But I do know the guy just got done leading his team to 17 wins in a row and a third consecutive play off berth. He must be some kind of weirdo with issues behind the scene. That would qualify as philosophical differences I suppose.

    Bob Boone exemplifies loyalty. Not. The Yankees and their fans deserve him. What a rat. He let his own staff take the fall. When does he get tossed, June?

    Tough break for Lance. He’s grown into one of the best as we’ve watched. But it sounds like things could be worse. I’ll await the official statement, maybe from Click?

    One thing is for certain. The Astro organization has more credibility than many.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awful end to the game in SF. The Dodgers deserve the win, but I would have a hard time forgetting this if I were a Giants fan. Add on Yelich watching strike 3 last night in Atlanta…oof.

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  9. I’m not as pessimistic as you guys are about McCullers. It maybe a ploy to pull one over the Red Sox.
    Correa: I like the kid, but I don’t love him like I did Springer. If he wants big bucks and Crane isn’t going there…adios dude.
    I hope Atlanta beats the “snodgers” and Mookie Betts can take his curled upper lip back home. I’d like this series to go 6 or 7 that makes for thrilling baseball! Key for our pitchers is to keep Kiki Hernandez OUT of the Crawford boxes!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Seeing the replay from the side, the check swing call to end the Dodgers – Giants game/series was one of the worst I’ve ever seen and based on when it happened maybe the worst check swing call in mlb history. Normally the bat ends up somewhere over the plate. This check swing stopped at the back edge of the plate.
    It probably did not make a difference, I don’t think Flores was going to hit Scherzer, but what if he could have wangled a walk? Anything could happen.

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    • A playoff game should just not be allowed to end that way. There should be a replay crew of officials in each stadium to immediately review ANY controversal call, regardless of regular season rules applying to non reviewable plays.

      Like

  11. * The Astros took 3 games out of 4 from Boston from May 31-June 3. At the time, Boston was the first place team in the AL East. The Red Sox left Houston and went to NY, where they swept the Yankees in a 3-game series.
    The Red Sox flew home and played Miami in a makeup game and beat them.
    In the meantime, The Astros, after taking 3 of 4 from Boston at home, flew to Buffalo, where they took 2 of 3 against Toronto and then flew to Boston to meet the first place Red Sox again. The Astros took 2 of three games in Fenway.
    Oddly enough, LMJ did not pitch in any of the 7 games against Boston.
    As a matter of fact, the Astros 5-2 record against Boston occurred when Boston was in first place in the AL East and Lance McCuller Jr was on the shelf for 19 games for shoulder discomfort. Here is a link to remind everyone about that:
    https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/astros-place-lance-mccullers-jr-on-injured-list-days-before-framber-valdez-and-jake-odorizzi-return/

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