The Astros have become a monster. It’s not bad enough that they are young and have more talent than they know what to do with. Having experienced victory over last year’s playoff gauntlet of Boston, New York and Los Angeles they now have such confidence that they don’t think they can be stopped. They have become the Godzillas of baseball.
Awesome talent and undoubted self-certainty. Do these guys even imagine losing a playoff series at this point?
They ran over Cleveland like a steamroller. Overwhelmed them like a juggernaut. Pulverized them like a dreadnought. OK, enough.
As in every other game this series the Astros waited to score, this time until the 5th inning. That’s when George Springer hit his first of two homers, a 416 foot shot to left center field to tie the score at one.
At this point in the game we were again tricked into thinking this game was going to be a close pitcher’s duel, and all lamented in Astrosland when Francisco Lindor hit his second home run of the series in the bottom of the fifth to put the Indians up 2-1.
But we’ve seen it over and over again this year, so often the Astros don’t really get started until the seventh inning. In today’s seventh Tony Kemp, batting ninth of course, lead off with a solid single.
Kemp would advance on an errant pickoff throw by Trevor Bauer, just in for Mike Clevinger, and then George Springer would get a swinging bunt single to advance Kemp to third. Jose Altuve then hit a double play grounder to Bauer, except he misfired to second, and everyone was safe, Kemp scored, tying the game
Gurriel would walk, loading the bases, and then Marwin Gonzalez poked his bat at a ball way too high to hit, and deposited a double in opposite field left, scoring Altuve and Springer, and giving the Astros a 4-2 lead.
But the fun had just begun. The eighth inning has been by far the Astros’ most productive all season, scoring 120 runs total, and tonight the eighth inning was for steamrolling, juggernaughting, dreadnought pulverizing.
Springer opened the inning with his second home run of the game, and third of the series. (George, this is just the ALDS, not the World Series. Slow down) Altuve then doubled, followed by Bregman and Gurriel walks to load the bases. Gonzalez got another RBI single, scoring Altuve, and Bregman scored on a wild pitch by Cody Allen, the third run scored in the eighth.
The wild pitch turned out to be inconsequential, because Carlos Correa broke out with his first hit of the series, a three run homer that would have been a grand slam, busting the game, and the series, wide open.
If Correa is finally breaking out of his slump, with all the rest of the lineup hitting the way they are, it truly would be hard to imagine the Astros as anything less than favorites to repeat as World Champions.
Here’s Carlos’ homer.
The Astros and the Indians would add inconsequential runs in the ninth, the run surrendered by Will Harris the only run the Astros bullpen allowed all series.
One reason the Astros were held without scoring in the early innings of this series is, no doubt, due to the quality of the Indians’ starting pitching. Today was no exception, as Mike Clevinger pitched five innings, allowing three hits, three walks, one run, but inducing nine strikeouts.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, as has been the case for much of the season, the bullpen could not hold the lead it inherited. Tonight’s loss went to Trevor Bauer, who allowed four hits, three runs, two earned, in 1.1 innings. Apparently the young man requires some expert training on how to improve his spin rate. His ERA for the series was 6.75, and he allowed seven hits in four innings pitched.
Dallas Keuchel started for the Astros, keeping his team close, allowing two runs in five innings.
The winning pitcher was Collin McHugh, whose two inning performance was extraordinary. He threw 21 pitches, 17 for strikes. He threw first pitch strikes to six out of six batters he faced. Six of his 21 pitches were swinging strikes. He struck out four of the six helpless batters the Indians sent to him.
This was the first post season series the Astros have ever swept. It is their fourth consecutive post season series victory.
The Astros don’t play again until Saturday, awaiting the survivor of the Red Sox Yankees match up.
Here’ the ALDS celebration.
Box Score and videos here.