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Astros best the A’s 5-2, take commanding 2-0 series lead

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They must’ve flipped a switch or something.

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros should really find a way to pay George Springer in the offseason. Yes, I know about the risk of decline as Springer ages, but it’s hard to envision him in another uniform. It’ll be an interesting offseason debate. That said, let’s save that conversation for November.

Game 2 itself was another encouraging performance by the Astros against a very good A’s team. Today’s starter, Framber Valdez, kept Oakland’s bats in check nearly all day, allowing two runs in five hits across seven superb innings. Only solo home runs by Khris Davis and Chad Pinder were the only blemishes of the day for Houston’s southpaw. Valdez also struck out four while walking just one batter.

The lack of walks is actually the key force in Valdez’s improvement in 2020. Only two pitchers (Nathan Eovaldi and Dillon Peters) saw their year-to-year walk rate decline more than Valdez, who was at 13.4 percent in 2019. This year, that walk rate dropped to 5.6 percent.

The bullpen was again strong, with Enoli Paredes and Ryan Pressly tossing a combined two scoreless innings. All in all, the pitching performance was about the best one can hope for, especially when considering how the ball is flying out of Dodger Stadium right now.

On the flip side, the lineup was driven by George Springer, who blasted two home runs in Game 2. Not only did the star outfielder pad the lead on the club’s all-time postseason home run list (17), he also found himself in second place in postseason home runs hit at Dodger Stadium.

Martin Maldonado also hit a solo shot, shortly following Springer’s second home run in the fifth inning. While it wasn’t the offensive explosion displayed in Game 1, the Astros lineup did enough to earn a Game 2 victory. To be honest, I didn’t see this kind of performance happening.

Interestingly enough, the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as the starter in Game 3 tomorrow afternoon. According to Dusty Baker following the game, Zack Greinke has experienced some arm problems lately.

Let’s see if Houston can complete the sweep, even without Greinke. If they don’t, the team is in fine position for the rest of the ALDS. But losing Greinke only hurts an already thin pitching staff more.