I’m glad Ryan Tepera accused the Astros of cheating.
What a fool.
Maybe Carlos Correa should have saved his famous quote, “What are they going to say now?” for this year. For this day.
If you want to get pounded into the ground, accuse the Astros of cheating. Go ahead Boston, if you’re hypocritical enough. The Astros welcome it.
Ten runs. Fourteen hits, and a ninth-inning three-run Altuve homer silencing the Chicago boo-birds.
Boo all you want Boston fans. Your hate only makes the Astros stronger.
And how about the other side of the plate. Astros starter Lance McCullers again proved his tenacious playoff competitiveness. Although he was only allowed four innings, he gave up but one run.
Or how about the much-maligned bullpen? Five innings combined. No runs, only two hits allowed. Including trade deadline acquisitions Yimi Garcia, Phil Maton, and Kendall Graveman. Has this group jelled just in time, ala Washington Nats, circa late 2019?
If so, the Astros are definitely in it to win it in the final series of the year.
But I get ahead of myself.
Bring on Bawston. Because the Astros have the momentum.
Considering the outcome, strangely the White Sox struck first in this game, continuing the momentum they had from Game 3. The culprit was Gavin Sheets, whose second-inning homer was the only scoring by the Sox all game.
From here on out the story is all about the Astros.
The Astros took the lead on Chicago starter Carlos Rodon with a Carlos (pay him) Correa two-run, 0-2 double down the left-field line.
The Astros added three runs in the fourth, starting with a lead-off Kyle Tucker single. After Mr. Five-Tool-Ted stole second and third, he scored with one out on a Martin Maldonado single, his only hit of the series.
After a Jose Altuve single, Alex Bregman knocked in both Maldonado and Altuve with a two-out gapper to left-center field on a 3-0 count, giving the Astros a 5-1 lead.
The Astros stretched the lead with another run in the sixth. It started with a Chas McCormick single (in for the injured Jake Meyers). He advanced on a Maldonado sacrifice bunt. And with two-outs Michael Brantley hit a single up the middle to score McCormick.
Although the hit by Brantley was off Aaron Bummer, the run was charged to the Astros’ favorite Soxer, Ryan Tepera.
The rest of the story of today’s win belongs to unsung bullpen heroes.
Surprisingly, Dusty Baker removed Lance McCullers after four innings and only 73 pitchers. His replacement was even more surprising. Yimi Garcia, who replace Framber Valdez in Game 3 and promptly allowed a three-run homer, was sent in yet again to face the meat of the tough Chicago lineup.
Three up, three down in the fifth.
Then, another surprise, Phil Maton in the sixth. And the seventh. No runs. Five outs. Two Ks. Twenty-six pitches and nineteen strikes.
Ryne Stanek finished off the Sox in the seventh.
The Astros added another insurance run in the eighth when Jose Altuve reached first and took second on a throwing error by the shortstop. Altuve took third with an aggressive advance on a wild pitch not far from catcher Yasmani Grandal. Altuve scored on yet another Brantley single, like his first one, a grounder up the middle.
Top of the ninth.
With two runners on base.
The fans howling their hate shrieks like rabid animals.
Baker went conventional in his bullpen moves in the eighth and ninth innings, bringing on his closer tandem, Kendall Graveman, and Ryan Pressly, respectively.
Graveman shut down the Sox in the eighth, although after he hit Jose Abreu with a pitch, Sox manager Tony La Russo made an ass of himself arguing that the Astros were trying to put Sox runners on base in an elimination playoff game.
After the Altuve homer, Ryan Pressly closed out the Sox, as he has been doing to MLB opponents throughout this All-Star season of his.
Shout out to Manager Dusty Baker. The buttons he pulled today were magical, sprinkled with fairy dust from a unicorn’s horn.
The improbable pitching moves all worked to perfection. Advancing McCormick with a Maldonado bunt, leading to the Brantley RBI, was another effective move while the game was still within reach for the Sox.
Did this play to end the game look anything like any other plays you’ve seen in Astros history. I think it’s an omen.
(Update: McCullers was removed because of arm soreness. NOt good news. Sorry for the downer)