This was originally going to be a post entitled “Now It Gets Hard” that was supposed to come out on the travel day between the Astros’ Game Two 3-2 win over the Yankees and their Game Three game against Gerrit Cole. But that post never got past one paragraph, and finally, this post occurs after a Wowser sweep of the Yankees by the hometown good guys.
Some thoughts about the just completed ALCS:
- My friend Justin from work passed this ditty from Jon Heyman of the New York Post to me after Game Three. Astros are lucky … to be this good (nypost.com)
The tongue-in-cheek here is wonderful, but it emphasizes what fans of both teams should know. The
The Astros are the better team. Period. Yes, there was some luck that went the Astros’ way, especially
with the bad timing of their fielding booboos leading to big innings by the Astros, but that is one way
wildly missing on a short toss to the SS that voids a possible double play. It’s Yordan Alvarez and
Alex Bregman took advantage of that miscue with solid hits to take back the lead. The Astros have
dominated the Yanks this season and sent them home in 2015, 2017, 2019, and now 2022. They are
the better team and have earned their spot in the World Series.
- My son, Thomas pointed out that both the ALDS and ALCS ended with the Mariners’ and the Yankees’ best players, Julio Rodriguez and Aaron Judge, respectively, at the plate. This is as it should be. But the last-gasp rally that both the M’s and the Pin Stripes (and the announcers) hoped for did not occur.
- Normally home plate umpiring, in the end, evens out. But the rotten ball/strike calls, especially in the last two games, seemed to be gouging the Astros a lot more than the Yanks. But the Astros shrugged it off and ran a sword through the mid-section of the Yankees.
- While just a notch below the magnificence of their performance in the ALDS, the bullpen was still excellent as they put in 12.2 IP with 19 Ks, and gave up 5 hits and 2 runs. In comparison, the Yankees bullpen, which was being used more than the Astros due to shorter stints by their starters went 17.1 IP with 10 Ks, while allowing 14 hits and 5 runs.
- The Astros offense….this is the old question. “If I told you that Jose Altuve would bat .188 BA with a miniscule .528 OPS with 2 runs scored and no RBIs, Kyle Tucker would bat .154 BA with a minisculer? .466 OPS with 1 run scored and 0 RBIs, and Yordan Alvarez would bat .214 BA with 2 runs scored and 1 RBI. You would be rightfully wondering whether the Astros could win the series, much less sweep?” But the Astros rode the bats of ALCS MVP Jeremy Pena (.353 BA/1.176 OPS/3 runs, 2 HRs, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs), Alex Bregman (.333 BA/.975 OPS/ 2 runs/ 1 HR/1 double/ 4 RBIs), Chas McCormick (.231 BA/ 1.026 OPS) and the under the radar catching combo of Martin Maldonado and Christian Vazquez (.300 BA/.500 OBP/ .900 OPS/ 3 runs/ 3 RBIs combined) to a series sweep.
- The strength of this sweep (for the first three games at least) was the starting pitching. Justin Verlander, Framber Valdez, and Cristian Javier combined for 18.1 IP, 0.50 ERA (with two unearned runs thanks to Framber’s collapsing pitcher play), 8 hits, and 25 of the record 50 Ks in this series. McCullers after the rain delay struggled mightily through most of his outing, but after giving up 3 runs early toughed it out through 5 innings and kept the team within range for their mid-game heroics. If the Astros can roll out this type of starting pitching in the World Series, they may well be able to stone the Phillies and their bombs-away offense.
- This was mentioned on the radio this morning and I have to say, I can’t argue about it. Please, point out all the things Dusty Baker did right in this series as loudly as you normally point out what he does wrong. It was a great job of managing and the team backed up their manager all along the way. I can’t find a lot of fault with Aaron Boone’s management. I think he did the right thing in moving Harrison Bader to the leadoff. Maybe he should have put someone else at third base for Josh Donaldson, who was a huge rally killer in the lineup, but it might have been the same as the Astros pulling Altuve or Tucker from the lineup. My biggest complaint, and something that we’ve seen Dusty handles a different way….the manager and his trainer headed to the mound in the third inning when they saw starter Nestor Cortes struggling and his velocity down. They let him stay in and he coughed up the lead. We have seen Dusty go out many a time based on a reduced velocity seen by the bench or the catcher and bring back his pitcher to the bench. Sometimes you have to tell your pitcher, “I know you want to tough it out, but there is something wrong and you can help your team by leaving now instead of 3 runs from now.”
Next post will be on the matchup with the Phillies, but for now, we should be celebrating a truly remarkable sweep of a 99-win team.