Wow. What a game and what a series. Losses aren’t fun, especially when your team had the lead in the late innings, so let’s review what just happened over the last few days and I think you’ll see reasons for optimism:
- The Astros played the 2016 AL Champions, who were on the verge of winning the 2016 World Series. This team, the Cleveland Indians, only got better during the off-season with the additions of Edwin Encarnacion and a healthy Michael Brantley.
- Suffice it to say, the Indians were one of the best teams in the AL on paper (if not the best) heading into the 2017 season. Furthermore, this series was played in Cleveland, not Houston.
- Fact: The Astros and Indians scored the same number of runs (13) over the 3-game series, a series in which each team’s ace started
- This was about as close of a series as you could get. The first two games ended with the batter representing the tying run, and tonight’s game ended with the tying run 90 feet away from scoring.
- The Indians were playing at full strength. Jason Kipnis was back after missing time early in the season.
- The Astros were not playing at full strength. George Springer didn’t start any of the 3 games and Jose Altuve didn’t start in the final two games (those being the ones that the Astros lost). This had some obvious defensive impacts on the games as Reddick looked shaky in CF tonight and last night after making a spectacular play Tuesday, robbing Kipnis of a HR.
- Despite missing Springer and Altuve, the Astros offense still found a way to score 6 runs in Game 2, and 3 runs off Corey Kluber tonight. Furthermore, they out-hit the Indians 30-24 in the series.
- Keuchel continued his brilliant start to 2017 with a complete game victory in Game 1
Now, am I happy that the Astros lost this series? No way. However, the Astros are going to lose games, and these are the kind of losses I can live with- hard-fought close games on the road where a team never gives up and is playing short-handed. Yeah, I can live with that.
Now, if you didn’t get to watch or listen to the game and do actually want a recap of what happened tonight, then I’m sorry for making you wait:
- Astros put the pressure on Kluber right away with men on the corners and nobody out in the 1st. Two batters later it was bases loaded with only one out. With two outs, bases loaded, and still no runs scored, Yuli Gurriel hit a screaming line drive to deep right field and Abraham Almonte made a great catch at the wall to end the inning.
- Astros offense got to Kluber throughout the game (8 hits and 4 walks over 7 IP), but were only able to take advantage of a few of their many scoring opportunities. Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo HR in the 2nd and Gattis and Bregman each came through with RBI hits in the 3rd.
- Fiers gave up a pair of solo homers (to Edwin Encarnacion in the 2nd and Abraham Almonte in the 5th) and basically did what a #5 starter does. He didn’t implode, but he needed alot of help from the bullpen.
- Devenski relieved Fiers with a man on 3rd and only one out in the 5th inning. After a line out and a flyout, he had preserved the one-run lead.
- Josh Reddick seemed to lose Encarnacion’s fly ball to center in the night sky, so Encarnacion ended up at 2nd base on the error. That’s how the bottom of the 6th started, but Devo didn’t mind. He struck out the next 3 batters (all swinging) to strand Encarnacion.
- In the 7th, Devo struck out his 4th batter in a row (Abraham Almonte, also swinging) before walking Yan Gomes. He then struck out Carlos Santana (you guessed it, swinging) before giving up a 2-run homer to Francisco Lindor.
- Interesting tidbit: The only runs Devo has allowed this year have been via the long ball- two solo shots prior to tonight plus tonight’s HR by Lindor.
- The Astros got 3 hits off Indians closer Cody Allen in the 9th, but couldn’t score. Jose Altuve got a pinch-hit single to lead off the inning, but was caught stealing. Reddick and Beltran (also pinch-hitting) followed with singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Correa popped out, McCann struck out, and that was the ballgame.
After throwing 7 pitches last night and 44 pitches tonight, how about we let Devo rest for the next 3 games against Oakland? That way he’ll be ready to go when the in-state rivals come down for a visit...