2021 ALCS – This Doesn’t Feel Like a Tied Series

After the duo grand slam meltdown in the first two innings of Game 2 of the ALCS, the Astros head to Boston in a 1-1 deadlock. But it doesn’t feel like a tie for several reasons.

First, the Astros loss gave home field advantage to the Red Sox. That may not be a huge deal for the road warrior Astros, but every advantage is essential in what looks like a pretty evenly-matched series. Second, the uncertain health situation of Luis Garcia has possibly turned a problem area with the pitching rotation into the proverbial dumpster fire. Garcia had been dealing with knee irritation for a while. Still, shades of Dallas Keuchel (I don’t even remember what injury he was hiding anymore), he had been covering it up until Dr. Martin Maldonado called for the coaches in the second inning. Now we don’t know if Garcia will pitch again (and possibly poorly) or be replaced on the roster (which kills him for a possible World Series appearance).

Negatives

The biggest negative is the state of the Astros pitching rotation. They started the ALCS behind the 8 ball with Lance McCullers Jr. on the IL. Then Framber Valdez failed to get out of the 3rd inning in the opener, and Garcia could not record an out in the second inning. Right now, the most likely pitchers available are:

  • Game 3 is slated as Jose Urquidy, who is uber rested, having last pitched 6 innings on Oct. 3rd
  • Game 4 was supposed to be Jake Odorizzi, whose 82 pitches on Saturday nixed that idea. Could this now be Zack Greinke, who is “stretched” out to only 40 pitches, according to Dusty Baker? If they put Garcia on the IL, could this be Peter Solomon or Brandon Bielak? Could they bring Framber back on 3 days rest after only throwing 65 pitches in the first game? Could this be Cristian Javier, who looked great in throwing only 28 pitches in that same game?
  • Game 5, 6 or 7 …only Game 5 is sure to happen right now, and it is way too far down the line to speculate on starters for these games yet.

The next negative is just a potential one right now, and that is the effect on the bullpen. So far, the bullpen has done a great job (except for Odorizzi), but having to clean up the mess after short starting stints will eventually take its toll. They need some decent starts the next two games to not get worn to a nub.

The Astros and the Red Sox are good road teams, but both teams are better at home than on the road. The Astros were 51-30 at home, 44-37 on the road, and the Red Sox were 49-32 at home and 43-39 on the road. So, while not fatal, giving that advantage back to the Red Sox could mean the difference in this series. Of course, it just takes an Astro win in the next two games to flip it back.

Positives

Though they did not really get back into the second game after falling back 8-0 after an inning and a half, the Astros did not give up, and their bullpen pitched well for the second game in a row.

The Astros were able to expose some weaknesses in the Red Sox bullpen in both games. Especially in the first game of the series, they overcame a two-run deficit to take a two-run lead that they needed to hold Boston off late.

The hitters continued to put up a decent amount of runs, five in both games, which they will need to continue or expand upon in the upcoming games.

The Astros have a ton of experience in big games over the last seven seasons. They will need to draw on that to survive the challenge they face over the balance of a series that does not feel tied right now.

 

48 comments on “2021 ALCS – This Doesn’t Feel Like a Tied Series

  1. I am not very optimistic about the rest of the postseason, but I continue to be surprised about how resilient this team is and has been this season.
    I hope for the best will be proud of the team, no matter how it goes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Pitching problems started day one who Verlander went dowm, the Greinke and McCullers both had a few less than stealing games. All of us were thankful for Garcia and super thankful when Valdez got back. Now we have no Verlander, no McCullers, and now who knows about Garcia.
    Personally I don’t see us pulling thus out, but as daveb says “one game at a time”. Today on Astros twitter Garcia said he felt great….which is what I thought he would say….you could SEE the Butterflies dancing in Jose’S stomach yesterday. I keep forgetting this kid has blown waaay past his pitch count by a LOT! Let’s hope he and Valdez can pitch again in the next 5 days, the team REALLY needs that to happen. If there’s someone the Taxi squad who could really help it’s Bielak. Rodriguez is a tough lefty but he’s delta with some strange stuff going on with him this year….I don’t expect him to go more than 4 innings tomorrow night. Coos your fingers for the boys they’re going to NEED it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am kind of zen about things right now. This has been a very resilient team that has kept rolling despite their losses. Just look at their pitching staff since 2018 – they’ve lost Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, Wade Miley, Brad Peacock, Collin McHugh, Ken Giles, Roberto Osuna, Will Harris, Hector Rondon, Joe Smith, Chris Devenski and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone and still had a staff that was very good this year.
    If they can survive the latest, it will be an amazing addition to their story.

    They need the offense to take the pressure off the pitchers today and tomorrow.

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  4. I read where Colin Powell died of COVID complications. My late father-in-law went to school in Brooklyn with him many, many years ago. He said that Powell would wear his ROTC uniform to school every day, because he didn’t have any other good clothes to wear. Always interesting looking at people’s beginnings.

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    • Sorry to hear that. He was a patriot. Didn’t always agree with him but I think his heart was in the right place.

      Definitely need a win tonight.

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  5. OMG – there is a Siri sighting in the lineup….
    Jose Altuve 2B
    Michael Brantley LF
    Alex Bregman 3B
    Yordan Alvarez DH
    Carlos Correa SS
    Kyle Tucker RF
    Yuli Gurriel 1B
    Jose Siri CF
    Martin Maldonado C

    Well I hope we get the Siri of the first week he was here

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    • I cannot believe that… well, actually, I can. Baker is pretty much incompetent when making out a lineup. The club wins despite his input. My opinion.

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  6. If Siri is playing, I would assume that means Meyers is not 100%. Let’s hope he can play within himself and not get too excited. What we really need is for Altuve, Brantley & Bregman to get on base and for the other guys to drive them in.

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  7. It’s not over but our guys have GOT to make their pitchers work like the Sox did to Urquidy, and Garcia….can they, will they,remains to be seen. It hurt my heart for both of those guys, they’ve worked so dang hard to get to the ALCS ALLof them are exhausted.
    Jake will be back tomorrow. Goodnight folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’ve got to give the Red Sox some credit. They squeaked in as a wild card and are peaking at the right time. All those grand slams? Maybe we’re tipping our pitches. They beat the favorite from the AL convincingly and are now taking it to us. Really taking it to us. Not one starter has picked us up. And we don’t have any starters left. And what happened to our bats? And terrible times to be booting ground balls. That’s what I find embarrassing. Somehow we’ve got to squeeze out a win in Boston. Anything can happen once home. But we are a real long shot at this point.

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  9. I get the feeling this will be a Greinke/Javier tandem tonight with Graveman and Pressly rested behind them.
    Yes the fielding errors are so unusual for the Astros – they rarely do that, but when they’ve done it this series it has led to big bad things.
    The team has to get up off the mat, shake the malaise off and pretend like last night did not happen. They have been able to do that many times this season. Can they do it one more time? If they don’t this task may be one bridge too far for them.
    Has Alex Cora or his video crew figured out some tips on our pitchers’ pitches? And I’m not saying illegally during the game, I’m saying have they looked at what they’ve done before and figured out some “tells”? Or is it just bad, exhausted, at the end of their rope pitching?

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      • Daveb
        I went back to the mlb.com to check out the pitches
        Last night Urquidy had the bases loaded and a 3-0 count – so I think you or I would be able to signal from our stratolounger that a center cut 93 mph fastball was coming and it was.
        The two on Saturday – J.D. Martinez has the bases loaded and a 1-0 count and he gets a waste high 93 mph fastball on the outside of the plate and goes with it to right field for a slam. Devers has a 1-1 count and gets an 88 mph cutter that probably wasn’t cutting that much – waist high and slightly inside where leftys often like it and pulls it to right field.
        Yeah maybe they were signaling, but when you have the bases loaded unfortunately the pitchers will be throwing some fat pitches and often fast balls.

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  10. This is what we saw from this group of Astros all year – showing signs of absolute dominance in one series, then turning around and looking completely listless and amateurish in the next. What is surprising is not that we are down 2-1; what is surprising is that we somehow managed to slow down the Boston steamroller long enough to eek out a come-from-behind win in game 1.

    Multiple grand slams are a product of multiple walks to fill the bases, and a continuing inability to locate pitches to the guy who comes up with the bases loaded.

    If there is not a dramatic change tonight, I think you can kiss any remaining World Series hopes goodbye.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. My suggestion for the Astros is to bring back the “bat” and “trash can.” Not to be used the same way. Take the bat and “kill that injury bug.” Then use a paper towel, pick up what is left, and throw that into the “trash can.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Being down 2 games to 1 isn’t really a big deal. The last few years we saw plenty of times where the Astros put up double digits in one game and then couldn’t scratch out anything the next. I’m not sure whether I should then be comforted or discomforted by the effort last night.

    How many times did we see Astros hitters put the ball in play on pitches they really didn’t want to hit? The good thing was that Rodriguez threw 97 pitches despite having a huge lead. The bad is that the Astros let the next three guys off the hook with 9, 12, and 10 pitches to finish the last three innings. How did this happen? Down 8, Tucker walks to lead off the seventh on four pitches, but Gurriel grounds into a double play. Still down 8, Castro works a six pitch walk to lead off the eighth…but Altuve grounds into a double play and then Chaz decides to fly out on the first pitch he sees after entering the game. That’s just dumb baseball.

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  13. They’ve been here before, so I’m not panicked right now. These guys HAVE to win tonight…PERIOD!! They know that, we know that. If there is one pitcher on this team who doesn’t get rattled it’s Greinke, BUT having Javier to come in after Zack makes me extremely nervous. Every single guy playing in the playoffs are running on fumes, tired or not their destiny is in their hands. I feel good about tonight’s game, I hope you folks are too!
    Look for the entire bullpen to get used tonight and tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. WHAT A GAME!! The bullpen needs a standing ovation!! I can’t say much more, other than when pushed to the wall, the guys got up fighting!
    2 years ago today it was Altuve who hit the walk off homerun off Chapman to send the Astros back to the World Series!!! I’m one happy, happy girl tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In the after show to the game they were talking about how Castro should have been called out on the pitch right before he knocked in the go-ahead run. But fairly they then went back to the first inning and showed that Devers should have been called out on a pitch where he was given a walk right before Bogaerts home run.
    If you go back and look at individual at bats – Laz Diaz butchered the home plate umpiring job last night. Pick an inning and you see balls called strikes and vice versa. Right before Castro’s at bat, Diaz got in a hole in the count because a ball way below the strike zone was called a strike.
    I don’t know how they pick ump crews for the playoffs, but it is obviously not done on merit.

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  16. I don’t know what to say about these guys anymore. How does our starting pitching completely disappear? How does our pen morph into a group that can blank the Sox for 7 and a third? Why does the offense take the night off again, to the degree that I have to take myself to bed. Then I wake up and find out we tied it in the 8th and then put up 7 more with two outs in the ninth? I have absolutely no idea what is coming next.

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    • Starting pitching isn’t the only thing that disappeared. In the top of the ninth last night, Buck and Smoltz disappeared, too. Toward the end of the Astros rally, Mrs. 1OP asked about the silent announcers. All I could suggest was that they were wiping their eyes and blowing their noses because the Astros had finally broken out. It was like a cemetery in the announcer’s booth.

      Liked by 2 people

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