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.
- 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?