Playoff talk and you know who

Your loyal writer has been watching a late afternoon tight game between the Yankees and their slighted fans (the HORROR of having your team play in the afternoon slot) and the underdog Guard(indians) today (Spoiler alert, the Yanks lost). My son, Thomas, texts me “Currently the Greatest Hitter of All Time (slight exaggeration) Aaron Judge has 1 BB, 1 Run scored, and 7 Ks over 2 games in the postseason”. 

Yes, Judge is 0 for 8 and has as many Ks in his first two games of the playoffs as You Know Who has RBIs in his first two games. And for once, since “IT” broke in 2020, the Astros are getting positive press and positive comments before, during and after the game. Which is mostly because of You Know Who. Oh, and Joe Buck isn’t announcing these games.

So, let’s talk about it….

  • Yes, its only two games, but Yordan Alvarez has had two of the most impactful games for the Astros in the playoffs by a hitter, possibly since the first time Carlos Beltran played here. His at bats already have been Must See TV for Astros fans, but now the whole nation is tuning in and marveling at our local wonder. Seattle Manager Scott Servais played it both ways and lost at least four times in the two games. He had his pitchers pitch to him three times with men on base, and they gave up a 2 run double and a 3 run walk off home run in Game 1, and a 2 run homer that flipped Game 2. Then he gave him a free pass in the eighth inning of Game 2 and watched Alex Bregman shove it up his nose with a run-scoring single to right.

If you were watching the big comeback in Game 1 and didn’t get shivers when Yordan launched that walk-off you may need to check with your doctor to see if you have a pulse. After two games, Yordan is slashing .500 BA/ .556 OBP/ 1.961 OPS with 3 runs scored, 2 HRs and a double, and 7 RBIs.

In Praise of Yordan… | CHIPALATTA

  • One question here that was triggered by another text with my son and hit on by a friend of the blog, Steven – where is Ryne Stanek? It is not just the playoffs, he has not pitched since September 30th. He did not stir in either game 1 or 2 or when the Astros tried to put together a group no-hitter the last week of the season. Is he hurt, but the Astros thought he might be ready if they go deep into this series? Did he tease Phil Maton, and Maton punched him instead of a locker? Enquiring minds want to know.
  • But even without Stanek, the Astros’ bullpen continues to get the results that they have shown throughout the season. It is not always pretty, but it is effective. So far, they have pitched 8-1/3 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run. Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, Cristian Javier, Hunter Brown, and Hector Neris all kept the Astros in both games. And if they can get Ryan Pressly to stop scaring the heck out of me, I will be very happy with what they are doing.
  • OK – I stole this from Pedro Martinez, but it is amazing the Astros have won the first two games with Jose Altuve putting up a Judge-ish 0 for 8 with 3 Ks, their two DHs (Trey Mancini and Aledmys Diaz) combining for a 1 for 8, Catchers Martin Maldonado and Christian Vaquez combining for 1 for 8 (guess who has the 1) and Justin Verlander looking very pedestrian in a 4 inning, 10 hit, 6 run outing. But the team is resilient and seems to pass the hero baton from player to player during the season and postseason.
  • Very critical to Yordan Alvarez’s success is the success of the player in front of him (Jeremy Pena) and behind him (Alex Bregman).  Pena gets on base four times (3 hits and a walk), none bigger than the slash single up the middle in Game 1 that brings Alvarez to the plate for his walk off in the 9th inning. Bregman only gets two hits, but both are critical as he brings the Astros back to within 2 runs in Game 1 with his eighth-inning blast and gives the Astros a much-needed insurance run in the 8th inning of Game 2.
  • Framber Valdez mixed very good innings with some shaky innings, but with the help of Neris, he got out of the game giving up 2 runs in 5-2/3 innings. After the problems Verlander had, they did not need a short outing from Framber, and he stuck in their tough to get them almost six innings.
  • Just an observation, but after watching how the Yankees lack of defense hurt them in their Game 2 loss to the Guard(Indians), we are spoiled. It feels like the Astros’ defense, especially infield defense, is a critical cog to their team’s success. All four of the infielder’s made critical plays, and the three guys who throw it have one of the great scoopers ever over at first base in Yuli Gurriel. Heading off so many outs certainly gives this team’s pitchers the confidence to throw hittable (groundable?) balls.

Your turn…what has caught your eye in the first two games?


38 comments on “Playoff talk and you know who

  1. Stanek pitched on the 2nd and 5th. If I had to guess, based on comments Bregman made on Monday, there was/has been a bit of a flu bug making its way through the clubhouse. I hope that’s the issue and he’s the end of it.

    You’d think the pen might be the most impacted group after six days off. We had some walks yesterday, but those guys played a huge role in the two wins. Abreu was given a big job on Tuesday. He set the tone. If Seattle had come close to producing what our pen guys have, it’s 1-1 right now.

    It’s a good thing that Altuve is holding out on us. We’ll need him and a couple of other guys to wake up in Seattle in order to close this thing out. The M’s will be playing with reckless abandon in front of a crazy crowd if we let them.

    Pena has so impressed me. But will the M’s give him anything on the plate going forward? They also might just try to throw to Yordan’s fists. They don’t want him to be at all comfortable. Bregman’s big game in this series might be on the way. And Tucker? He’s also hit the ball better than 2 hits would indicate. Diaz finished the regular season 1 for 19. If we play long enough he’ll wake up.

    Even having misplaced his curveball, if Framber makes the play at the plate in the 4th, we might have gotten a clean 6 innings from him. But we need a dominant start from McCullers.

    The defense has been great. I’ll bet Yordan would say he should have caught Crawford’s ball off the Crawford wall. But his throw in game one saved a run and ended an inning that might have become a blow out. It was close.


  2. Thoughts?
    Didn’t notice Stanek’s absence. I consider his year as a good one, but not as good as it’s made out to be. He is still wild as hell.
    I have talked about how Pena is a clutch hitter and it has shown up in the playoffs.
    Framber is gassed. They rode him hard and it is showing up now.
    How many slumps has Altuve broken with a 3 or 4 hit game?
    I don’t see the advantage of platooning CFers. Pick one and go with him. Continuous chances at the plate will result in that player’s average results vs the 0 for 4 we see with alternating them.
    The Astros look the same in the playoffs as they did in their 106-56 regular season. Like a very good baseball team.
    The last time the Astros went to Seattle there were huge, loud crowds and a hot Mariners team. The Astros swept them and we talked about it. It was right after we beat the Yankees in a home DH and then flew overnight to the west coast, if I ‘m not mistaken. My point is that we have been there and know how to play well there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am concerned about Framber being toast. I wish he had blown that darn quality start pursuit in July.

      1OP, do you think there is really a chance that Dusty goes with one centerfielder?

      Our guys will not be freaked out playing in that arena.

      We get Mancini again today. When does his slump end?

      It’s going to be beautiful baseball playing weather in Seattle today.


  3. The commissioners office must worried by now. The Dodgers are a game away from extinction, Atlanta has the same dilemma and the Yankees, heaven forbid don’t have much of a bullpen to take to Cleveland. I’m rooting for the underdogs, well, except for the M’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ll go out on a limb here – Mancini will do something important for us in the playoffs. He has been a very solid (not great) hitter throughout his career. His BABIP with the Astros was only .191 (though that was backed up by lower hard hit and line drive numbers), but he is reminding me of George Springer when he looked so bad in 2017. At some point he will get it clicking again.


    • Yeah, I have the same feeling about Henry Mancini. I’m looking for the Boom Boom version again. But on the flipside, he’s always been an everyday player when healthy. I think part time play has been his problem.


  5. Don’t get me wrong, I very much want the Phils to win their division series, but it’s a shame two of our favourite Astros pitchers are getting pounded.

    Charlie Morton, 2017, was a total star. I even bought a Morton jersey.

    An inside the park HR off Collin McHugh. Very harsh.


  6. The Amazing Astros!
    They went to Seattle and held the Mariners scoreless for 18 consecutive innings in front of over 47,000 starving, screaming, booing fans. Their rookie SS hits a home run in the 18th to get the Astros their run and they head home with a sweep of the ALDS.
    Those Amazing Astros!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What a day in Major League Baseball!

    Bill Plaschke called it “the biggest disappointment in Dodger history”. Will heads roll in LA? Andrew Friedman and Dave Roberts are getting roasted in the LA papers this morning.

    The Braves got manhandled and sent packing by the suddenly scary Phillies. That should be a heck of a series against the Padres.

    And today Aaron Boone is taking heat for trying to finish last night’s game with a rookie named 86. What a huge turnaround from going up 2-1 in the series, instead giving up 3 runs in the 9th and facing elimination this evening. With no reliable pen, can Cole go long and force game 5 in New York? Boone and Cashman could be on the ropes too!

    And then you have the last of the 4 highest seeds resting until Wednesday after a ho-hum 3 game sweep of the Mariners. I’m hoping Jose goes and sees Frambers physiatrist Monday morning.


    • It’s pretty amazing that all those 100-win teams are out of it except the Astros. The Dodgers roster decisions this offseason will be interesting. Will they double down on spending? The Braves are in a similar boat. They extended a number of young guys, but will have to make some decisions on others. The Mets, well, their annual collapse was predictable. I wonder how Scherzer feels.


      • He probably feels like he is a part of the blame. He stunk in his one playoff appearance, and he stunk against the Braves during the series that put them where they were. He is just as responsible for the how ending of a good season went bad as anyone else.

        It’s a funny game. The Mets were outstanding for almost 6 months. They were not for a week. They picked the wrong week to let the wheels fall off. Does Showalter survive it?


  8. Having spent some of my life in the golf world and having spent a lot of my life in Houston, I thought I might infringe on our baseball world for a minute.
    Yesterday U of H golfing great Fred Couples did something remarkable for any golfer. He shot a 12 under par 60 in the final round of the SAS Championship to win the tournament in a romp.
    His 12 birdies came on his final 14 holes in a bogey free round.
    Couples is now 63 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No problem OP – as I recall Couples and famed announcer Jim Nantz were both college teammates on the golf team, but also roommates at U of H (which is my alma mater). They were at UH the last couple years I was there – but truth be told I wasn’t following our college golf team in those days.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Random thoughts:

    What was with all that smoke in Seattle? Did they defund the Fire Dept too?

    Seriously, that wildfire smoke probably made it harder for the hitters to see the ball, especially in the daytime.

    I wonder why Abraham Toro did not play. His career OPS is .621 but against the Astros it is .841.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The really wish the game had started on time tonight. Whatever happens at this point, tonight or tomorrow, if the Yankees lose they’ll blame the new playoff system. If they win, they’ll complain about the new playoff system anyway.


  11. Just so y’all know I would have posted another post by now ….if I knew who the Astros were playing in the ALCS. But Noooooooooo. They have to go the whole 5 games and add a rainout to boot, and I’m not going to analyze both opponents. I don’t get paid enough (or at all) for that.
    As a fan though, it doesn’t hurt my feelings that the Yanks or Guard(indians) have no off days and have to travel over night to Houston to play tomorrow night. I say – play 18 innings.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can’t blame Dusty for Stanek. He had what was in terms of ERA a historic season. He still also walked 5 batters per 9. You send him out there and its going left, right, up, or down, he sees 3 batters. What if he walks 2? Oof. Even in the marathon game he got 1 inning, which was surprising in one regard (he was fresh as a daisy) but not really that surprising when you know that Garcia and Urquidy were back there haven’t not pitched at all.

    How clutch was Luis Garcia. He looked confident, dare I say even stoked, to be out there. He was spotting 97, and when you can do that, good things usually happen.

    One of the better pitched games I’ve ever seen. 17 innings, no one gave a hitter a quarter. It finally came down a back end of the BP reliever making a mistake to Pena. I usually spend my time watching a game in the pitchers head not the batters head, thinking what he should throw where in that spot, and I usually keep count of the mistake pitches (even the ones not hit), and there was not a lot, all night, from either side. I think the shadows and conditions definitely helped the pitchers. And all of that happened with the home plate umpire doing one of the worst jobs I’ve ever seen in calling balls and strikes.

    You are not alone in the Pressly heart attack every time he leaves one a little flat. He looks more hittable now than in previous years.

    Its awesome that game 1 happens tomorrow. Both teams are likely to exhaust it all tonight. I don’t fear either team, I think we win against both, but seeing the Yankees lose anytime brings a bit of joy to my heart.


    • One of the weird things was that most of the home plate umps mistakes (and there were a ton of them) were in the hitters favor – squeezing the pitcher. Strikes around all the edges were not called, but the pitchers bit the bullet and trudged on ward (though McCullers looked like he wanted to trudge on the umps face).

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Good morning,

    I’m sure Dan will put up his ALCS post shortly. But for my first cup of coffee I will note two things.

    1. We really should not lose a series to the Yankees at this point because our pitching staff is fully intact, rested and to the best of our knowledge they are all healthy. Historically, at least on paper, it’s one of the best groups ever.

    2. Jose Altuve will hit, won’t he?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hoping for the Cy Young quality JV we saw during the season to return to action tonight; that guy that wore his uniform in the opener vs. Seattle was a train wreck.

    Offensively, I have given up trying to predict what these guys will do. They are Jekyl and Hyde. Altuve was absolutely atrocious in the ALDS, popping up, rolling over, and striking out like a starstruck amateur; Alvarez, on the other hand, was delightfully superhuman in the first two games. Bregman and Pena were consistently dialed in and clutch; Tucker and Gurriel had some moments. McCormick performed well enough to earn the starting nod in CF throughout the NLCS [but for Dusty]; but Mancini and Meyers stunk it up so bad we dread seeing either name appear in the line-up. As far as our catching corps, we expected little to no offense from them – and we got exactly that.

    Game 1 could be hard to watch if the Hyde version of JV comes out again.


  15. How about Hensley at DH. I see that Jake has been left off the roster for this series. Both Mancini and Diaz haven’t shown much 0-6 and 1-7. Hensley seems to be pretty adept at plate discipline and he can put the bat on the ball. While Mancini is more prone to K than Diaz, Diaz looked lost at the plate during the two games he played in. Come on Dusty, let Hensley play.
    I will give kudos to Dusty’s BP management in the game but the guys really came through.


  16. Astros in 6. Game 1 can be a trap game. Talieson isn’t really great, and his one start against the Astros this year he gave up 11 line drives and 3 doubles while facing 27 batters.

    Verlander is going to have his work cut out. This is a homerun hitting team. He has historically been a guy that can get got by one swing, especially when no one is in scoring position and he challenges more in the zone. He is a veteran though and a guy that I suspect will shake off that game 1 against Seattle and pitch better. We know the Yankees hitters are going to be amped.

    I don’t think it will go like Seattle. They hit better. They also pitch worse. I think most games in this series are not gonna be barn burners decided in the 9th. I think most of them will be 3-4 run wins when some pitching gets beat up. I like the Astros pitchers to keep the Yankees down enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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