ALCS Recap – Friday, 10/22

Houston blasts off for the World Series

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall all alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.”

Oh, you thought I wasn’t going to give you some Green Fields Of The Mind? C’mon, you should know me better than that by now, especially when we’re talking about a night where one team’s fanbase has to go face those chill rains all alone together.

 

Astros 5, Red Sox 0

 

In what turned out to be the ALCS clinching game, we got what only the NL seemed to be able to pull off: A good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Well, kind of. In the bottom of the first, Nathan Eovaldi got two quick outs before running into some trouble, when Alex Bregman shot a single through the left side, and then Yordan Alvarez doubled him home on a ball that Enrique Hernández just barely couldn’t get his glove under:

Eo was able to escape the inning without any further damage and held the Houston bats down for another two innings until the bottom of the fourth when another Bregman single and Alvarez double put runners on second and third with no outs. That only made him mad, though, as he proceeded to strike out the next three batters around an intentional walk for Yuli Gurriel. He opened the bottom of the fifth giving up a single to Martín Maldonado, giving him his first hit in the ALCS. He struck out Jose Altuve next, but Alex Cora didn’t want Michael Brantley and the rest to get to see Eovaldi a third time, and to the bullpen he went. It felt like a much better performance than the final 4.1IP, 5H, 1R, 1BB, 4K line makes it appear, but the Astros didn’t get to this point by being easy outs, and they grind down even the best opposing pitchers. I guess things look rosy when you make that lineup look like this while you’re out there:

And speaking of opposing pitchers, Houston wasn’t in the mood to play around either. The game got off to an inauspicious start for Luis Garcia as a strikeout pitch to Kyle Schwarber scooted through Maldonado’s legs and let The Schwarbear reach first safely. He got to second on a hot shot that Altuve somehow snagged:

And then tagged up on a Rafael Devers flyout to reach third with two outs. Instead of an early lead, though, Xander Bogaerts grounded out to end the inning. And Garcia didn’t look back. You may notice that the only baserunner in the first made it on following a strikeout, not a hit. Garcia stood on the mound, rocking his baby, dancing, and just dealing.

I idly wondered if Garcia saw any ill effect from having to give up his full windup, and it turns out he does, in a pretty noticeable way:

Thankfully, it doesn’t matter too much about your windup/stretch split when you don’t give up a hit until the sixth inning. That’s right, Luis Garcia took a no-hitter two outs into the sixth, when Enrique Hernández hit a fly ball off of the LF wall for a triple and Dusty figured he had earned a rest.

How did he do it? Speed. Garcia made a mechanical change to get his back foot more under his body, and the result was 23 pitches above 96mph. Compared to a total of 17 over the course of the entire season. The final 2021 ALCS line for Luis “Amazing Windup” Garcia was a very impressive 5.2IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 7K to go with the win.

Houston put a second run up on the board in the sixth, starting with a checks notes Yordan Alvarez stand-up triple. That’s right. Boston had the standard lefty pull shift on in the infield but moved their outfielders expecting him to go the other way, so when he got an 83mph exit velo line drive over the shift it rolled all the way into the RF corner before anybody got a hand on it.

Alvarez then scored on a rather chaotic unassisted double-play over at first base, when a Kyle Tucker grounder skipped into Schwarber’s mitt fast enough that Correa was caught thinking he had to tag up. The throw probably should have gone home, but as I said, things got a little chaotic and Yordan was able to get across the bag before the ball got there.

In the top of the seventh, it looked like Boston was ready to make a real game out of it, with a J.D. Martinez walk and Alex Verdugo single putting runners on the corner with only one out. Travis Shaw came into pinch hit for Christian Arroyo and ended his six-pitch AB with a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play:

Alvarez singled again in the bottom of the eighth, meaning he now holds a truly remarkable record:

Then with two outs, Kyle Tucker made up for the earlier DP by parking a fly ball out in the Crawford Boxes and putting the Astros up 5-0. Leading to another remarkable statistic:

Boston went down 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, and just like that, Houston is off to the World Series. I can practically hear the cries of joy from the baseball fandom at large from here. At least we can all agree that Dusty Baker is a cool dude.

 

Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Asher Dratel

Asher hails from Brooklyn, wears a 2008 Joba Chamberlain jersey to every Yankees game he attends, and pronounces BABIP funny. Appreciator of Beefy Lad dingers and beers.

  • theKraken says:

    You know what looks incredibly stupid right now? Everything that was written about HOU being a bunch of cheaters. Three was literally an entire offseason of garbage about how all of their success was due to banging trashcans. The “analysis” was even consistent in its inability to quantify any advantage but math and science never get in the way of creative writing. I am not saying that they didn’t bang trash cans – I am just saying, as I always did, that it doesn’t matter. All they have done is be the best team in baseball since being declared frauds. That is debatable, but they are the easy #1 team at the moment and they nearly went all the way last year too. They have all that success despite having zero reliable arms. That is how good the bats are… but yeah they are just a bunch of cheaters that are going to get beaned every AB right? MLB is in such bad shape right now… it has gotten so bad that people don’t even remember the scandal on top of scandal. Banging trash cans, juicing balls, covering up juiced balls, arbitrary investigations and suspensions, slowpitch softball rules, majority of teams tanking… there are so many problems that none of them stand out. It reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Mr Burns has every disease and they all cancel each other out. This WS won’t do anything to help baseball. The Braves without their media-driven superstar is not a good look. Crazy to think that team sports don’t revolve around individuals… which is contrary to the moronic narrative that is pushed so often. Where is that Tatis guy by the way? Not only does the game have too many problems, but the marketing is blatantly stupid. Best case scenario for baseball is Yordan Alvarez becomes a household name, which is not too unlikely, but who really watches MLB games at this point. On an unrelated note, Does Eddie Rosario get signed this offseason to a multi-year deal? While I understand that MLB decisions makers wouldn’t recognize baseball skills if they were being slapped across the face with them, has Rosario doe enough to get anyone’s interest? There was very little interest in him last offseason, but he puts the bat on the ball better than most. He is a pretty frustrating player n many ways but he posses the most undervalued skill in baseball.

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