The Houston Astros are one win away from getting back to the American League Championship Series (ALCS) after they took down the Cleveland Indians 3-1 in game two on Saturday.
Gerrit Cole tossed a gem, delivering seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball with 12 strikeouts and no walks. He is just the second pitcher in MLB history – after Tom Seaver – to record 12 strikeouts without walking a batter in a playoff game.
Marwin Gonzalez delivered the big hit with a two-run double in the sixth inning off of Andrew Miller and Alex Bregman added insurance with a solo shot off Trevor Bauer in the eighth.
Game three is scheduled for Monday in Cleveland.
Strength v strength
Coming into the American League Division Series (ALDS), two things were very clear, the Astros strike out a lot of batters and the Indians do not strike out very much. No-one struck out less than Cleveland in MLB this season (1,189 Ks) and no-one struck out more batters than Houston's rotation (1,687 Ks).
Something had to give in this series. So far what has failed is Cleveland's ability to avoid the K. For a team that struck out a little more than seven times a game during the season (7.33), the Indians have been rung up 22 times through the first two games of the ALDS. Against Cole, they struck out swinging 12 times.
Houston were the best team in MLB at missing bats in the strike zone this year, so that makes sense, but one would have thought the Indians would have been a little bit better than they were through the first two games.
Here is a statement you will not hear a lot in MLB postseason play: the Astros will probably be happy to get out of Houston and head to Cleveland. Yes, Houston played well in the first two games of the series, but the Astros have been a much better team on the road than at home this season.
Houston won 11 more games on the road this year than they did at home (57 to 46), but it is more than about just wins. The Astros were a better hitting team on the road as they scored 51 more runs away from home and they gave up 44 less, as well. Houston's ERA was 2.87 on the road as opposed to 3.34 at home.
Houston know exactly what they are getting into as they have gone on the road in the postseason and won in recent years. Houston won a game at Fenway Park to seal the ALDS last season, another to tie the World Series at one game apiece at Dodger Stadium and then one to clinch it in Chavez Ravine. The Astros are not just a good road team, they are a tested one.
Third time through
There is no denying it, Carlos Carrasco is a fantastic pitcher. The way he mixes his fastball with an assortment of curves, sliders and split-finger fastballs is fantastic. He is one of the most unhittable pitchers in baseball. However, he should never pitch against the Astros the third time through the lineup.
Carrasco is one of the best in MLB the third time through a batting order, holding opponents to a .190 batting average this season in that situation. But in Carrasco's loss to Houston on May 20, he tossed six shut-out innings and then allowed a two-run homer to Brian McCann and was handed a loss. In his May 26 win over Houston he allowed a run-scoring double to Jose Altuve and a two-run homer to Tony Kemp, and then in game two on Saturday he allowed two runners to reach base in the bottom of the sixth. Both would come around to score later.
This does not change the fact that Carrasco has been great overall against Houston in his career, as he has gone 4-2 with a 3.45 ERA with 55 strikeouts, but he probably should not be allowed to face off with the Astros a third time through the lineup.
|Yankees send Sonny Gray to Reds|
|Tebow invited back to Mets´ major league spring training|
|Royals pitcher Skoglund suspended for 80 games after testing positive for PEDs|
|Rangers sign pitcher Shelby Miller|
|Yankees pitcher Sabathia cleared to resume baseball activities|
|Mets acquire OF Broxton from Brewers|
|Pham: Tampa Bay Rays have no fanbase|
|Athletics, Fiers agree to two-year contract|
|Rays sign SP Morton|
|Dodgers trade Puig, Kemp and Wood to Reds for Bailey and prospects|
|Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia underwent heart procedure|
|Kinsler, Padres finalise two-year deal|
|Yankees give Sabathia $500K bonus despite ejection|
|Athletics´ Chapman undergoes procedure on left shoulder|
|Phillies sign McCutchen to three-year deal|
|Blue Jays release five-time All-Star Tulowitzki|
|Yankees interested in Machado, not Harper - Cashman|
|Former MLB players Valbuena, Castillo killed in car crash|
|Eovaldi signs four-year, $68m deal with Red Sox|
|Cardinals, Diamondbacks agree to Goldschmidt deal|
|Red Sox accept Trump´s White House invitation|
|Mets complete deal for Cano, Diaz from Mariners|
|Dodgers extend manager Roberts´ contract through 2022|
|Betts named American League MVP|
|Yelich named National League MVP|
|MLB commissioner Manfred gets five-year extension|
|Betances wants Yankees to sign Machado|
|Rays´ Snell, Mets´ deGrom win Cy Young Awards|
|Red Sox give manager Cora contract extension through at least 2021|
|Melvin, Snitker win manager of the year awards|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|Long-time Twins star Mauer announces retirement|
|Martinez becomes first player to win Silver Slugger at two different positions|
|Yankees re-sign CC Sabathia to one-year deal|
|Giants hire Zaidi as president of baseball operations|
|Mets GM hasn´t ´ruled out´ trading deGrom, Syndergaard|
|Nationals want to re-sign star Bryce Harper|
|Astros starter McCullers will miss 2019 after Tommy John surgery|
|Reds minor-league pitcher Capellan dies in car accident|
|Dodgers re-sign Freese to one-year deal|
|Dodgers extend Kershaw´s deadline to opt out to Friday|
|Price on Red Sox future: I´m not going anywhere!|
|Kershaw unsure over Dodgers future|
|´A dream come true´ - Red Sox´s Pearce reflects on MVP award|
|Red Sox veteran Pearce wins 2018 World Series MVP|
|Price, Pearce lead Red Sox to World Series title|
|BREAKING NEWS: Red Sox win World Series|
|Donald Trump criticises Dodgers manager Roberts|
|Red Sox one win away from claiming World Series|
|Muncy revels in ´pure joy´ of dream 18th-inning walk-off|
|Records tumble as Dodgers win longest game in World Series history|
|Muncy´s walk-off homer sees Dodgers win longest game in World Series history|
|Red Sox´s Martinez battling ankle injury|
|Baldelli appointed as Twins manager|
|Red Sox take 2-0 lead over Dodgers in World Series|
|No problems with the belly button - Cora hails Sale´s best postseason showing|
|Red Sox top Dodgers in World Series opener|
|World Series 2018: Three reasons why the Dodgers will win|
|World Series 2018: Three reasons why the Red Sox will win|
|World Series 2018: Three storylines to watch in Red Sox-Dodgers|
|Dodgers to face Red Sox in World Series after beating Brewers|
|Sale: Hospital visit was because of belly button ring|
|Brewers force game seven against Dodgers in NLCS|
|Price leads Red Sox past Astros and into World Series|
|Hinch says Altuve would be out with injury in regular season|
|Bradley homers again, Red Sox take 3-1 lead over Astros|
|Dodgers on cusp of World Series after beating Brewers|
|Brewers remove Miley after one batter against Dodgers|
|MLB investigated alleged Astros sign stealing, found no wrongdoing|
|Red Sox´s Sale won´t start game five of ALCS|