Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|MON Sep 25th||HOU 11||TEX 2||McHugh v. Cashner|
|TUE Sep 26th||HOU 14||TEX 3||Keuchel v. Hamels|
|WED Sep 27th||HOU 12||TEX 2||Verlander v. Martinez|
|THU Sep 28th||HOU 12||BOS 2||Peacock v. Rodriguez|
|FRI Sep 29th||HOU 3||BOS 2||Morton v. Fister|
|SAT Sep 30th||HOU 3||BOS 6||McCullers v. Pomeranz|
|SUN Oct 1st||HOU 4||BOS 3||McHugh v. Velazquez|
The Astros started their strong last week of the season by thumping the Rangers 11-2 in the first of three games in Arlington (yes, those three games the Rangers didn’t want to give up during Harvey). The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead off of McHugh on a solo homer from Gallo in the second and RBI single from Beltre in the third, but were unable to add any more runs in the game. McHugh went five innings giving up those two runs on seven hits while striking out six. He was followed by four scoreless innings by Hoyt, Sipp, Clippard, and Feliz. Offensively the Astros’ big inning was the fourth where they put up an eight spot, two of which came on errors and one via a bases-loaded walk. Bregman had a sac fly in the inning along with RBI hits by Gonzalez and Gattis. Gonzalez also hit a solo home run in the sixth, followed by RBIs from White and Fisher in the seventh to get them to their eleven run total and put the game out of reach.
The bats were hot again on Tuesday night and jumped all over Hamels early to take a 4-0 lead in the first on a two-RBI double from Correa and RBIs from Gonzalez and McCann. Keuchel worked well with the lead in his last regular season start, going six strong innings giving up just one run on five hits while striking out eight in his six innings of work. The Astros put up ten more runs between the fourth and sixth innings including a two-run homer from McCann and a three-run homer by Maybin, extending their lead to 14-1 at the time. DeShields ran for a rare inside-the-park home run in the sixth and Robinson hit a garbage-time solo home run in the ninth, but the Rangers still fell 14-3. The win for the Astros secured home-field advantage in the ALDS with home-field throughout the playoffs still within reach. Oh, and the Rangers were also eliminated from the playoffs on Tuesday, so there’s that too.
The Astros put a hurting on the Rangers yet again on Wednesday, finishing the sweep of what I will from here on call the “Houston Strong Tour”. The Astros won 12-2 as Verlander also made his last start of the regular season. Verlander had his worst start as an Astro, which in reality still was really strong, giving up two runs on six hits but still striking out eleven in his six innings. The offense scored runs throughout the game including two home runs from Correa and a grand slam Springer Dinger as the duo would go on to account for eight of the team’s twelve runs to finish the season series against the Rangers with a 12-7 advantage.
In the first game of what we now know to be an ALDS preview, the Astros beat the Red Sox 12-2, making it their fourth straight game with double-digit runs. They scored five runs early off of Rodriguez on a bases-clearing double by Gonzalez in the first then a two-run homer over the green monster by Bregman in the second. Boston’s two runs came off of Peacock in the second on a solo home run from Moreland and RBI single from Bogaerts, but they would be unable to get any closer than 5-2. The Astros went on to score seven more runs including home runs from McCann and Correa. After Peacock’s five innings of work the bullpen combination of Martes, Musgrove, Clippard, and Giles combined for the final four innings to seal up the win.
The Astros held on to an early lead to win Friday night’s game 3-2 thanks to more solid bullpen work to earn their 100th win of the year. Bregman accounted for all of the Astros’ three runs by way of a RBI single in the third followed by a two-run home run in the fifth, making it 3-0 Astros at the time. Morton was another pitcher making his last start of the year before presumably fitting into the playoff rotation, and was cruising early before running into trouble later in his day. In the fifth Devers hit a RBI double to make it 3-1 before Morton got a strikeout to end the inning, but in the sixth gave up a single followed by a double to put runners on second and third with no outs. Pedroia grounded out which scored a run, and also ended Morton’s day as Hinch went to Liriano against some of Boston’s lefties. Liriano was able to get one out before Devenski came in to finish the inning, allowing the Astros to cling to their lead. Devenski came back out for a shutout seventh, followed by a strong eighth by Harris, which set up Giles to come in for the ninth and get his thirty-fourth save of the year.
The Astros’ one loss on the week came Saturday as the Red Sox got their one win needed to clinch the AL East and also set up a rematch for the two teams in the ALDS. McCullers was given the nod to start in order to rest Keuchel for the playoffs and continued to struggle. He looked great early, giving up just one hit in the first three innings, but struggled through the fourth and fifth, giving up three hits for runs before Sipp came in and allowed two more of the runners McCullers was responsible for, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 lead in the fifth. The Astros got two back in the seventh on RBIs from Gattis and Gurriel, but the Red Sox answered back with a solo homer from Betts off of Gregerson in the seventh. McCann homered in the top of the ninth to make it 6-3, but the Astros were unable to mount any more offense, losing the game 6-3.
The Astros won game 162 4-3 for their 101st win in a strong comeback performance in a game where both the Astros and Red Sox rested their key players. Mchugh made the final start for the Astros and allowed all three of the Red Sox runs in the fourth inning on a two-RBI double by Devers who then scored on a passed ball. The Astros’ comeback took place in the seventh inning where Centeno, Moran, and Kemp hit RBI singles to tie the game followed by a sac fly by Gurriel to give the Astros the 4-3 lead which they held on to with bullpen work from Harris, Martes, and Clippard.
The Astros finished the regular season with a 6-1 week including an absolute beatdown of the Rangers in Arlington and a 3-1 series win over the Red Sox who they will square off against later this week in the ALDS. They finished the season in about the best way possible; the offense is firing on all cylinders including Correa who is on absolute fire showing full recovery from his injury. Keuchel and Verlander looked good to finish the year, meaning the first two games of any playoff series is going to be tough on the Astros’ opponent. Morton looks to be the third starter, and in his recent games has been very efficient, something that will be a great asset in the playoffs to save the bullpen as much as possible. Speaking of the bullpen, they’ve had their ups and downs during the season but the key pieces look to be rested and focused for the playoffs too. Even taking my obvious bias out of the way, I give the Astros a legitimate shot in a series against any of the playoff teams. This is going to be a fun few weeks as an Astros fan.
MVP of the Week – Jose Altuve: This is more of my MVP of the regular season. What can I say about Altuve that hasn’t already been said? He got his 200th hit this week to make it four straight seasons with at least 200 hits and locked up the batting title for the third time in four years. Short of an absolute robbery, Altuve is a lock for AL MVP, and in my opinion, there’s no discussion he has earned it.
This Week’s Schedule
- ALDS Game 1: Red Sox @ Astros – 3PM Thursday 10/5
- ALDS Game 2: Red Sox @ Astros – 1PM Friday 10/6
- ALDS Game 3: Astros @ Red Sox – Time TBD Sunday 10/8
The powers that be have put the first two ALDS games in the afternoon slots, but no matter, Minute Maid Park will be rocking and the Astros will look to take the momentum they ended the season on into the post-season. They’ll go up against Chris Sale in game one with Kuechel or Verlander taking the mound for Houston, setting up a likely pitcher’s duel. Be on the lookout for my recaps after each playoff game.