2021 ALCS: Two not of a kind

The Houston Astros won two significant games to totally flip the ALCS series against the Boston Red Sox and they did it two very different ways.

The Astros did score 9 runs in both Games 4 and 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the ALCS. And no, they did not do it by whistling, garbage can banging, or mental telepathy. But except for the total runs scored, these two games were very different in any way one would want to judge them:

  • Game 4 was the fourth in a series of short starts for the Astros. The game was turned over to the bullpen with one out in the second inning with a 2-1 deficit and they held the rope for the rest of the game only giving up a run after the game was basically over. Brooks Raley, Phil Maton, Cristian Javier and Kendall Graveman combined for 6.2 innings of scoreless ball. Game 5 was the ultimate salve to an overworked bullpen as Framber Valdez gave up a single run in eight insanely strong innings of work. That was 1.1 inning more than the Astros first four starters (including Framber himself) accumulated in the first four games of the series.
  • Game 4 seemed like a series of desperate actions like a newbie trying to stay upright on a tightrope for the Astros. After being beaten badly in Games 2 and 3, the team seemed like a boxer one punch away from being knocked out. They wobbled along trailing for the great length of the game, but did not fall any farther back than that 2-1 deficit and stood tall in the 8th to tie it and the 9th to win it. In Game 5, even though they only had a 1-0 lead through five innings, seemed like a game where the Astros had control behind a starting pitcher who dominated his opponent with quick innings and low pitch counts.
  • In Game 4 the Astros did not take control until they scored 7 runs with two outs in the 9th with Jason Castro’s go ahead single and Michael Brantley’s bases clearing double being the big blows. Of course, an even bigger blow was Jose Altuve’s game tying home run in the 8th that broke the ice for an offense that was going nowhere after an Alex Bregman home run in the 1st.  Game 5 was iced earlier as the team broke out for five runs and a 6-0 lead in the 6th inning. Along with Alvarez’s two run double, an RBI double by Yuli Gurriel and a 2 run single by Jose Siri were the big hits in that rally.
  • Game 4 had a big array of heroes, between Raley, Maton, Javier, Graveman, Bregman, Altuve, Castro and Brantley, who held the game close, tied it and broke it open. For Game 5, one big hero was Yordan Alvarez with his three opposite field lasers, two of which drove in the first 3 runs of the game and gave the other hero, Framber Valdez, some breathing room. Still, the biggest hero was Framber, who not only gave a physical lift to the team, but an emotional/psychological booster shot.

The Astros head to Game 6 with a miraculously rested bullpen as only Stanek pitched on Wednesday night. They may well need it with Luis Garcia and his tender knee heading out to the mound in a critical start Friday night. The good thing is that the fans know and more importantly the Astros know they can win games in many, varied ways.

That knowledge is a big reason they have made 5 ALCS’s and 2 World Series in the last five seasons. Will there be one more World Series visit on their resume? We will know sometime between now and Saturday night…..

27 comments on “2021 ALCS: Two not of a kind

  1. I’VE BEEN CRYING MY EYES OUT!!! What a performance by Garcia!!
    I don’t even know what else to say, but these guys did it getting BOOED EVERYWHERE THEY WENT….and finished with half a pitching staff!!!
    Goodnight everybody…..I’m a HAPPY 72 yr old lady!!!
    GO ‘STROS⚾!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As one who has trouble living in the present and always wistfully looking to the future, how about LMJ, Luis Garcia, Framber, Urquidy, and Christian Javier (in no particular order) as your starters. Now if someone will take a bat to that injury bug, we should do well.

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  3. * On a night where Altuve and Correa were both hitless, the Astros clinched the pennant.
    * The Astros lost George Springer to free agency and then won the AL pennant.
    * Remember the Benintendi diving catch to beat the Astros? Friday night, Kike’s drop in center field let the eventual winning run score.
    * Cora’s first postseason series loss is in the books.
    * I never thought Framber and Garcia would rebound like that.
    * Castro’s two-out RBI single mattered. A lot.
    * Altuve’s diving stop and throw to first from his knees in the first inning may have changed the entire flow of the game.
    * They tried to get Correa to pick a foe for the WS and he wanted nothing to do with it.
    * Smoltz actually said “we” last night in describing how we could get Alvarez out.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sarge, I’m hoping for an exhausted Atlanta team to win game 7 late on Sunday night, giving us the opportunity to host the opener of the World Series on Tuesday evening. Watching on my laptop, I’ll leave the sound muted as per protocol.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I did not realize that Scherzer has been scratched from tonights game due to a dead arm. As a result, Buehler will start on three days rest. For all the problems with our rotation we’ve not had to start anyone on short rest at any point.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves. Should be a great series with us coming out on top. At least we don’t have to listen to Joe Buck and company salivate over the Dodgers and continue to bring up “IT”. Interesting thing will be the bias that they show. I still suspect they will still snipe at the Astros with snide comments but it will be a lot better than listening to them doddle over the Dodgers. And as an extra bonus is I don’t have to stay up till 1:00AM to watch the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad we’re done with the Dodgers for the year. Today, one of their fan blogs has a headline about Mookie Betts and the most unforgivable at-bat of the postseason. The scenario is that done 3 in the seventh with two on, Pujols and Souza, Jr.,struck out. That brought up Betts. The article highlights his chance to tie it up, then dumps on him for striking out on three straight fastballs. It goes on to say they “cannot accept this kind of showing from the Dodgers highest paid player.” What a bunch of ungrateful blowhards. I hope they get a decade or two of futility to perhaps let them reflect on how special their run these last few years has been and the championship* they won last year.

    * Weird, non-162 game season with altered rules, COVID related injuries, etc.

    I hope I’ve never commented so harshly about any Astros here.

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    • The Yankees and the Dodgers are out. I’m very happy about that.
      The Astros and the Braves are in. I’m very happy about that.
      A best of seven series is enough to decide who is the best team in baseball and I can live with that because my favorite team is still in it.
      Snitker and Baker. Two old baseball guys. Can’t get better than that for me.
      I like this World Series. Play ball!

      Liked by 1 person

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