Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

No Astros last night obviously. That happens this afternoon. That means we have a very short list of links to post today, but we might as well get to gettin' on 'em.

Here's a pretty cool article outlining how A.J. Hinch outmanaged Aaron Boone in last Sunday's game.

Gerrit Cole chose UCLA over the Yankees, and now he has another opportunity to make that organization very very sad.

Another fun fact about Gerrit, he hasn't lost a game since May. Here's how the Astros analytics team turned him into the best pitcher on the planet.

Cori Cariota, the wife of the paramedic who was struck by a foul ball, said in a statement that the Astros were not to blame for this unfortunate situation. They are still unsure if the foul ball will cause any long term damage.

Carlos Correa dedicated his walk off home run to a Laredo teen that is currently battling cancer.

Position by Position: who has the better team for the ALCS? ($)

The Nationals are putting on a pitching clinic in D.C. right now, and they are looking incredibly scary as potential World Series opponents.

A Delaware couple won the North American Wife Carrying Championship in Maine over the weekend while we were on watching baseball like losers.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Monday Morning Hot Links

Holy Hannah what a game, what a home run, what a momentum swing. Carlos Correa, who had caught All The Slander over the last few months, goes into Game 3 a hero. The Astros win 3-2 in 11 innings, and tie the ALCS at 1-1. Game Three is Tuesday afternoon in West Connecticut.

*It's the first walk-off home run in the postseason for the Astros since Chris Burke in 2004 NLDS G4. Since 2005 WS G3, Houston is 4-0 in extra-inning playoff games.

*Aaron Boone continued to utilize the Rays' "blueprint" of throwing multiple pitchers, nine of them, to be exact, in an 11-inning game. That vaunted Yankees bullpen? 7.2IP, 3H/2ER, 11K:4BB. Houston's bullpen? 4.2IP, 1H/0ER, 5K:2BB.

The Astros faced nine Yankees pitchers in Game 2, which tied a postseason record. The Astros also faced nine Rays pitchers in the ALDS.

*The Astros took back the lead in the ever-important Projections battle, at least according to one site. FanGraphs has the Astros back to 52-48 of winning the series, with a narrow 51-49 edge in G3. FiveThirtyEight still gives a 52-48 edge to the Yankees, but another 51-49 edge to Gerrit Cole in G3.

It's hard to say what it's like to go through it. We're in the second round of what could be a seven-round fight. Obviously we know what's at stake. The emotions are real out there. The intensit, our fans were incredible these two games. We're going into a crazy environment at Yankee Stadium tied 1-1.

There was no losing this game. We were winning this game. Everybody in this clubhouse believes in each other, and we're looking forward to going up there. 

This was an epic game in the playoffs with everything on the line. So obviously this has only just begun. I'm not drawing any conclusions on anything for [Boone] or for me. We're doing the best to try to put our players in the best position possible.

*Here are some facts and figures from ALCS G2.

*Aaron Judge:
It's tough. Yeah, we had a lot of chances that game, you know, we had them on the ropes basically all game and just weren't able to seal the deal. We're confident going back home, you know, splitting the series, splitting the two games here and now we have three of them in the Bronx.

*Verlander has made seven postseason starts against the Yankees: 45.1IP, 31H/12ER, 48K:13BB, 2.38 ERA / 0.97 WHIP. The home run Verlander allowed to Aaron Judge was the hardest homer he had allowed all year.

Verlander's vs Yankees in the postseason as an Astro: 22.2IP, 15H/3ER, 28K:4BB, 1.19 ERA / 0.84 WHIP.

His teams are 6-1 against the Yankees in the postseason.

Verlander needs 13 strikeouts to set the MLB Postseason record (199, John Smoltz).

Not playing a couple of weeks before the playoffs and then not producing for my team offensively, obviously it's tough, getting hurt and everything. But it's all worth it for moments like this, moments like this where you give your team a chance to win every day, it's worth it, man.

*Correa, who went 2x5 with 2RBI, on his walkoff:
Going into that last inning, I thought, 'I got this.' I felt like I got this. And I had the right approach against [Former Astros Great J.A. Happ]. I've been successful against him going the other way. And that's what I tried to do. I saw a good pitch down the middle, and I drove the other way.

As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going over the fence. The adrenaline started pumping like crazy. I don't even know what I did. I've got to go watch the video. But I know I was hyped.

Bregman, on Correa:
I mean, he knew he was gonna end it when the pitching change came in. He told us. Then he did it.

Correa is the 7th player in MLB history to have multiple walk-offs in the postseason, though Correa's home run in G2 was his 1st walk-off home run in his MLB career. The last time Correa had a walkoff hit? 2017 ALCS G2 vs. New York.

On the play in the 6th that nailed DJ LeMahieu at the plate, Correa:
When it hit [Altuve], and I saw the ball go my way, I just went after it. And I grabbed it, and when I looked up and I saw he was sending the runner, I thought, 'Oh, I got this guy.' So I threw him out. I don't know why he sent him, but thank you.

*Jenny Dial Creech: Correa's swing is back. Hinch:
We've got these guys' back when they don't play well. When they do play well, we celebrate. Carlos being right in the middle of it having had the roller-coaster year, health-wise, is big for him moving forward.

*Houston was 1x10 w/RISP in Game 2. Bregman and Gurriel were each 0x2, Yordan was 0x3. In seven postseason games the Astros are 10x45 w/RISP, but they're 4-3 in October.

*George Springer hit his 12th career postseason home run. Ten of them have come from the leadoff spot, most in MLB history.

*Giancarlo Stanton was not in the lineup last night after suffering a quad strain in G1. He's day-to-day.

*There is currently a 100% chance of rain in New York on Wednesday. A rainout of Game 4 to move it to Thursday would allow the Astros to throw Greinke on normal rest, instead of Urquidy/Bullpen.

*The support person in the dugout who got hit with a Michael Brantley line drive is in the hospital in stable condition.

*Matt Young has a cool story with Jose Lima, Jr. and where the Astros fit in to his life.

*Evan Drellich, in The Athletic: MLB has lost the trust of the public over the baseballs.

*A Musical Selection:

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

Not ideal! The Astros had a golden opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS before Verlander and Cole even pitch and...waved it that opportunity like they waved at all 21 pitches Tanaka needed to get through six innings. Bad Astros offense is bad. Gleyber Torres 5, Houston 0. New York is up 1-0 in the series.

*The Astros had a 55-45 edge in G1 according to FanGraphs. It's 54-46 today with Verlander and Paxton - more on him in a bit. The Yankees now have a 53-47 shot, again, according to FanGraphs. FiveThirtyEight was extremely unimpressed with how Game 1 shook out. They had the Astros at 54-46 going in, but now it's 65-35 Yankees.

*The team that wins G1 of the ALCS has gone on to win in 30 of 49 series.

*Speaking of unimpressive: the Astros' offense! The Astros have played 54 innings. They have scored a run in ten of those innings. They have scored 2+ runs in a single inning five times in five games. This is, obviously, not the Astros that we know and love. It's the Astros we knew and loved back in the day. But not this. Fifteen of the Astros' 43 hits have gone for extra-bases. It doesn't matter what Greinke allows when the offense is getting minimum-ed through six innings on 68 pitches, which is what Tanaka did.

Lindsey Adler notes that Tanaka is the first pitcher to throw 68 pitches through six full innings in the postseason since Greg Maddux did it in 67 pitches in the 2002 NLDS. Zack Greinke threw 83 pitches through six innings, and I bet if you just looked at the pitching line and saw Greinke threw 83 pitches through 6IP, 7H/3ER, 6K:0BB you would imagine the Astros won.

*The last time the Astros were shutout in the postseason was 2017 ALCS Game 5 against the Yankees.

*Carlos Correa, this postseason, is 3x22 with 10K:0BB, "hitting" .136/.136/.182. He hasn't had a hit since he got two in Game 2 of the ALDS, going 0x14 with 6K:0BB in the four games since. He went hitless in five of the 2017 postseason's 18 games total. Since August 13 - a span of exactly two months - Correa is 8x56 with 18 strikeouts.

*The Astros aren't terribly concerned. Altuve:
We've been in this situation before. [Sunday] we have Justin and we all know how confident and good we feel about him. It's just one game. It's a seven-game series. We still have a lot of baseball to play.

I thought Zack did a good job giving us a chance to win and we just didn't do anything offensively.

Springer, who is "hitting" .120/.154/.120 in six games this postseason:
When you're facing really good pitching, it makes hitting even harder. Hitting's hard. But that being said, we're a good team and we understand that, so we've got to grind and string together some at-bats and we'll see what happens.

*More Springer:
[Tanaka is] one of the best in the game. He threw his slider a little bit off the plate. The split was good all night. He controlled the zone. You tip your cap and you move on.

Springer has gone hitless in four of six postseason games in 2019. His 0x4 in ALDS G1 broke a 14-game postseason hit streak. Springer had eight hitless games in his previous 32 postseason games coming into 2019.

*Yordan's line drive that resulted in Bregman getting doubled up had an expected-batting average of .740.

*Ryan Pressly:
I mixed up a lot of things today, but they went the other way with a lot of stuff. I got singled to death, and now I've got to hang with them and come out [Sunday].

*Our own Brian Arbour has a piece on why the Astros are better than the Yankees, and why it might not matter.

*MLB.com's Mandy Bell: How will Verlander and Cole cool off Gleyber Torres?

*The New York Post's Ken Davidoff says the Rays gave the Yankees a plan on how to beat the Astros. I don't think this is the bombshell it seems like, more like a, "if the Yankees watched the ALDS, they would know how to pitch to the Astros" plan.

*Outside the Lines' T.J. Quinn has a bombshell report on the death of Tyler Skaggs, in which the Angels' longtime director of communications Eric Kay (who himself overdosed in April) was Skaggs' supplier of oxycodone, which Skaggs would snort. The report says then-VP of communications Tim Mead was made aware. This is somewhat of a sticky situation for Mead, as he was announced as the President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum the week after Kay's overdose. Mead denied knowledge of any of the situation.

*The Atlantic's Andrew Exum: David Pocock, the best athlete Americans have never heard of.

*Yesterday, 34-year old Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles 17 minutes faster than I ran 13.1 miles last March. Kipchoge:
I wanted to run under two hours and show human beings can do a good job and lead a good life. It shows the positivity of sport. I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all the human beings can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.

*A Musical Selection:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Why the Astros are Better than the Yankees, and Why It Might Not Matter

As frustrating and annoying as Monday afternoon and Tuesday night were, Thursday was cathartic.  Astros bats came alive in the first inning due to sussing out Tyler Glasnow’s “tells” to know what pitch was coming. Gerrit Cole proved even better in the playoffs than he was in his remarkable regular season. And back-to-back homers from Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve sealed the 6-1 victory.

The Astros reward for their ALDS victory is a matchup against the New York Yankees. The consensus is that this is a matchup between two evenly matched, or nearly evenly matched teams. This preview described the series as a “Goliath vs. Goliath showdown.” While the consensus is that the Astros have a slight edge, most commentators I have read over the last 36 hours have emphasized the slight part of that phrase.

I’m writing to emphasize the edge part of that phrase. The Astros enter the ALCS with a clear edge over the Yankees. They should win the series, and, if the Astros and Yankees played 1000 games, the Astros would win a clear majority of them. 

Here’s why:

3rd order wins

The metric of 3rd order wins shows that the Astros are a substantially better team than the Yankees. So what's a 3rd order win?  Baseball Prospectus calculates these numbers, based on each player's "underlying statistics and adjusted for quality of opponents." It is a number that is designed to reduce the amount of "luck" that goes into the standings and tell you how good each team really is.  

According to this measure, the Astros "should" have won 116.5 games this year, and the Yankees 95.5. The Astros were 21 games better by this measure. That's not a small margin. 

So how did the Yankees win 7.5 more games than they "should" have, and the Astros 9.5 wins less?  The answer is "cluster luck." Teams that cluster their hits together score more runs. If a team gets 4 base hits over 4 innings, they will likely score 2 runs if they get them all in the same inning, and 0 runs if they get one per inning. 

But this is described as "luck" because teams can't choose to cluster their hits.  It's basically a random process. The Yankees have gained 65.1 runs this season by cluster luck, the largest in baseball by 13 runs. The Astros have lost 37.7 runs through cluster luck, fourth worst in the majors. These numbers help to explain how the Yankees scored more runs than the Astros (943 to 920) despite having worse number in all three slash line categories (.274/.352/.495 for the Astros to .267/.339/.490 for the Yankees). 

And even before one accounts for cluster luck, the Astros pitchers gave up 99 fewer runs than the Yankees this year (640 to 739).   


Examining 3rd order wins and cluster luck shows that the Astros have a better offense and pitching staff than the Yankees.  But we don't need to go into detailed Sabr-metric theory to show the Astros are better.

The chart below shows the projected lineup for each team for tonight's matchup of right handed pitchers. It shows that the Astros have a higher OPS and OPS+ for 7 of the 9 spots in the order. In short, the Astros have a better lineup than the Yankees.



The Yankees have an advantage at the #2 spot in the order (Judge over Altuve), and in the #9 spot (Urshela over Reddick).  Another way to show the Astros advantage: they boast the 4 best OPSs and wRC+s in the series (Alvarez, Bregman, Springer, and Correa).  The Yankees will add Aaron Hicks to their ALCS roster, and he may take a start from somebody in their lineup. But his .768 OPS and 102 wRC+ does not change the results. 

The Astros advantage in hitting--which is the Yankees strength--is clear. 


We can do the same thing for the rotation.  We know who will start Games 1-3, and I projected Jose Urquidy and J.A. Happ as the Game 4 starters.  Again, the Astros have an advantage. Their starter has a lower ERA and higher ERA+ in three of the four spots in the rotation.


Of course, the one advantage for the Yankees is Luis Severino over Gerrit Cole.  Severino pitched only 12 innings in the regular season, and Cole has earned Pedro Martinez comparisons for his run over the last 4 months.  So Astros fans many not think that advantage is truly with the Yankees there.

This analysis shows how big the Astros edge is in the rotation.

Why it Might Not Matter

The numbers above show that the Astros have  big advantage among the players who will play the most in the series. They have better hitters and better starting pitchers.

Yet despite these advantages,  there are substantial reasons why those advantages might not play out in the series.

  1. That's a really impressive Yankee lineup. As mentioned,  they led the league in runs, and 8 of their batters have a wRC+ greater than league average.  They can score runs, especially if the Astros have some bad starts.
  2. The heart of their bullpen is excellent.  Closer Aroldis Chapman had a 2.21 ERA during the season, and his set-up men were better. Adam Ottavino had a 1 90 ERA and Zack Britton's was 1.91.  Yankee manager Aaron Boone has proven aggressive in using his bullpen--Yankee starters went 4 2/3, 4, and 5 innings in the ALDS. 
  3. In a short series, anything can happen. The depth chart based odds at Fangraphs give the Astros a 65% chance of winning. In context of playing an excellent team like the Yankees, that's a massive edge (and other metrics have a smaller but still clear edge for the Astros). But that still says the Astros lose 35% of the time. That's the equivalent of rolling one die and getting s 5 or a 6. It would not surprise you to see a die come up that way.

So there is good news for us Astros fans. We are cheering for the team with the better offense and the better pitching staff. Heck, our boys are better defensively and on the base paths than the Yankees.  We should be as confident as any fan base can be. And we can be nervous as hell at the same time. 

Saturday Morning Hot Links

*It's ALCS Game 1 Day! The Astros are 2-0 in Game 1 of the ALCS in franchise history. Any narrative you read about this series that tries to put this series in context of the seven games they played in 2019 is a stupid narrative. The South Yonkers Yankees were super-banged up in April, the Astros were super-banged up in June. It doesn't matter. But if the Astros can win Game 1 with Verlander and Cole coming up, it puts them in the absolute driver's seat.


*After they played their last game against each other (before G1, not including the postseason) on June 23:
Houston: 58-23
New York: 54-31

*It's Masahiro Tanaka going for the Yankees tonight. Some numbers:

-In seven career appearances against the Astros, Tanaka is 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA / 1.42 WHIP, allowed a .283/.333/.566 slash line, with 25K:9BB and eleven home runs allowed. The .899 OPS he's allowed to the Astros is the highest of any team he has faced.
-Four of those appearances were at Minute Maid Park, where he's 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA / 1.27 WHIP, with 17K:6BB in 22IP.
-Most of the damage done to Tanaka's career line vs Houston came on May 14, 2017 when the Astros tagged him up for 7H/8ER, 4K:3BB in 1.2IP.
-At Minute Maid on April 8, he threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:2BB in a 4-3 New York loss. Must have been that dreaded Jankee bullpen what let him down. He faced Houston at Yankee Stadium again on June 22 and allowed 8H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 6IP. The Yankees won 7-5.
-Sarah Langs: There have been six instances of two 100-win teams meeting in the postseason prior to the World Series. The team with the better regular season record has won five of those series.

*Basic Game Info:
Game 1: Tanaka vs. Greinke, 7:08pm Central Saturday
Game 2: Paxton vs Verlander, 7:08pm Central Sunday
Game 3: Severino vs Cole, 3:08pm Central Tuesday
Game 4: 7:08pm Central Wednesday
Game 5: 7:08pm Central Thursday
Game 6: 3:08pm or 7:08pm Central Saturday
Game 7: 6:38pm Central Sunday

*Hinch, on the Yankees:
This is a rivalry that's been created over the last few years, and everybody will think back to the 2017 epic seven-game series and expect this to top it. I hope it does. And I hope it's the same result.

*J.R. Richard will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Hampton prior to Game 1. Dub.

*The New York Post's Joel Sherman says the "relentless" Astros have one weakness the Yankees can exploit: the bullpen.

*Hunter Atkins: The Astros' bullpen is ready to be aggressive.

*Richard Justice: Seven bold predictions for the 2019 ALCS, in which he maps out how the Astros win in seven games.

*The Maven Presents Sports Illustrated's Matt Martell: Three questions will define the 2019 ALCS. Game 4 could be pivotal.

*Jerome Solomon writes that these Astros are not the previous Astros incarnations: they deliver under pressure. Jim Crane:
It never gets old. There is a lot of championship chemistry here. And this team is experienced, and you'll see them play well under pressure, and that's what it takes to win...Clutch players deliver in pressure situations.

Put this in the Hot Links yesterday morning, but I thought it was worth digging a little deeper:

Postseason Career:
Craig Biggio: 2HR in 185 PAs. .234/.295/.323, 30K:13BB.
Jeff Bagwell: 2HR in 129 PAs. .226/.364/.321, 25K:19BB.

George Springer: 11HR in 169 PAs, .285/.361/.570, 42K:18BB
Jose Altuve: 11HR in 165 PAs, .278/.339/.536, 26K:14BB

*Brian T. Smith: Minute Maid in October truly is Home Sweet Home.

*Tom Verducci: Gerrit Cole is trying to become 2019's Madison Bumgarner and Bob Gibson.

*The Yankees last played on Monday, the Astros on Thursday. So here's The Athletic's Cliff Corcoran on whether there's anything behind the Better-Rested Narrative in the postseason. (Short version: not really).

*Well HERE's some bullcrap: The qualifying offer price is actually going down this offseason (mainly thanks to the 2019 salaries - not including signing bonuses - of Harper/Machado/Trout). And speaking of shifting the goalposts for MLB owners, Josh Reddick - who gives as good a quote as anyone on the team - had this to say about Jim Crane's ability to pay Gerrit Cole:
I think given what our front-office and what Jim wants to do, and if they wanted to make that move and get over the fact of paying the luxury tax fee, then I think it's no problem for them. 

And it's not! Jim Crane is worth $2.5 billion and do remember that there's a group of people that bought the Astros with him, he's the majority owner, but there are others in that group. Yes, the Astros would go over the luxury tax in 2020, but they get back under it in 2021. How? The Astros have $37.4m coming off the books after the 2020 season just in Gurriel, Brantley, and Reddick. 

*Forrest Whitley is DEALING in...the Arizona Fall League. Last month I took a look at how Forrest Whitley's season unfolded and how he basically cost himself a shot with Houston in 2019. It'd be pretty nice of Whitley to have developed according to the Astros' timeline and not his own and be the Josh James of the 2019 postseason but here we are...tweeting about spin rate in Arizona.

*Remember Jacob Nix? He was the 5th Round pick in the 2014 Astros draft who thought he had worked out a sort-of tandem deal with the Astros and Brady Aiken, before Aiken's UCL proved to be very small. The Astros didn't sign Aiken OR Nix. It looked very bad. Anyway, Nix was arrested last week for trying to break into someone's house through the doggie-door, got kicked in the face, then got tased in the chest through the doggie-door. Nix was drafted by the Padres but missed most of 2019 thanks to a damaged right UCL. Weird.

*The Athletic's Evan Drellich: Rob Manfred is Doing The Data on how to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed.

*Stephanie Apstein: On Clayton Kershaw.

*Curt Schilling really wants to manage the Phillies. Related, with an equal chance of success: I really want to switch abilities with Alex Bregman.

*The New Yorker: Amazon pits us against ourselves.

*Popular Mechanics: After 500 years, we now know that Da Vinci's bridge design works.

*Two Muslim Israeli plumbers didn't charge a Haifa-based Holocaust survivor to work on her house.


*A Musical Selection, courtesy of My Friend US Cocksman:

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

The Astros beat the Rays, just as we all knew in our hearts would happen and bowels definitely was not loose heading into Game 5. Houston is 15-4 at home under A.J. Hinch in the postseason, and Jim Crane should give Gerrit Cole whatever he wants. ALCS Game 1 is tomorrow night against the Westchester Yankees, 7:08pm Central on Fox. Great. Houston is the first team since the Verlander-led 2011-2013 Tigers to reach the Championship Series three years in a row.

Some series stats stuff before getting into G5:

-FiveThirtyEight gives the Astros a 54-46 edge in the ALCS, and a 36% chance of winning the World Series. FanGraphs has just about the same projection for the ALCS: 53.6% for the Astros, with the highest-probability scenario of Astros in 6. FanGraphs also has the Astros at 49.7% to win the World Series, highest of the four remaining teams by far.

Game 5

*Gerrit Cole:
Really, honestly, now that we've won it, it was good to get hit in the mouth twice.

This was a grinder of a series, obviously, and we get to Game 5, and we get to have it at our home field, and we get to have Gerrit Cole. A lot of that is lined up well for us, and we respond with a really good game. Big moments, big atmosphere today and big-time performances by big-time players. 

*The Astros held the Rays to two hits - one of them a solo home run from Eric Sogard. Gerrit Cole was unbelievable, again: 8IP, 2H/1ER, 10K:2BB.

Since 1962 there have been 31 instances of a pitcher throwing at least 7.2IP in a postseason start, allowing no more than four hits, and striking out 10+ batters. Gerrit Cole has done it in back-to-back starts. The last player to do it before Cole was Matt Moore in 2016 NLDS G4. The only other Astros pitcher to do it was Nolan Ryan in 1986 NLCS G5. The only other time a pitcher did it in back-to-back postseason starts (in the same series): Sandy Koufax in the 1965 World Series. 22 pitchers made at least one start with those parameters in the postseason. Notably, Justin Verlander has three such starts, Zack Greinke has one. Now Cole has two.

Cole's 25 strikeouts in the Division Series broke Stephen Strasburg's record of 22. Elias Sports Bureau noted that, when Cole went through the 2nd Inning, it broke a streak of 73 straight innings dating back to August 1 in which he failed to strike out at least one batter, the longest streak in the expansion era. 1999 Pedro is 2nd, with 40 straight innings. That's insane. Bregman:
This team is special, and the reason that we're special is because different guys step up every single night. Yeah, if one guy goes off we're probably going to win. Gerrit went off twice this series.

Jayson Stark: Gerrit Cole's historic run is almost impossible to put into words.

Cole was so good that I didn't even realize the Astros went 19 batters between hits.

*The Astros got four runs on five hits in the first six batters of the game. Bregman:
The Rays pitching staff was unbelievable to face. I think the only time the ball looked that small was opening weekend of the year when we faced them. So they were really, really good. It was a really good test.

*Springer, who is back:
To get Gerrit a lead, to make them play from behind a little bit, it was obviously huge for us. Playing from behind is not easy. We spent basically Games 3 and 4 playing from behind. It's not easy to do, so for us to have a lead was pretty big.

*Brantley and Altuve hit back-to-back home runs in the 8th, and it was Altuve's 11th home run of the postseason, most ever in the playoffs by a second baseman. It was Michael Brantley's first-ever postseason home run.

Postseason home runs, Biggio/Bagwell: 4
Postseason home runs, Springer/Altuve: 22

*Was Tyler Glasnow tipping pitches? Manager Kevin Cash:
I'm aware that there is speculation about pitch tipping. It's something that we have discussed. It's a little tough to do that, make an adjustment in Game 5 of a division series. But at the end of the day, give the guys the credit that went up to the plate and put the ball in play and hit line drives. I think that's what did us in.

I'm not going to say that was the reason why. I left some pitches that were there to hit over the middle of the plate. They are really good hitters. They can do things [with those]. I don't care how hard you throw, they are good hitters. I don't know if that's what it was, but when I look back, it was pretty obvious.

Hunter Atkins addresses the pitch-tipping (noting that it was the height of Glasnow's glove when he came set). Kevin Kiermaier:
I had a great view from center field. The way they were swinging at certain pitches and taking others, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

*Carlos Correa was 0x4 with 3Ks. His line in the ALDS: 3x19, 9K:0BB. .158/.158/.211. Correa, on the ALCS:
It's the matchup that we wanted. It's the matchup that everybody wants to watch. It's must-see TV right there. So everybody is going to be tuning in. It's going to be fun.

*The only thing that is not ideal is that it would likely take a Game 7 for Cole to pitch twice against the Yankees. If the Astros can finish off the Yankees early, then Cole would be set to start the World Series. I can't believe I'm actually typing these Ifs.

*Josh Reddick, with the line of the night:
We're ready for [the Yankees]. We know it's going to be a good series. We know they're a great ballclub, but we're a better ballclub.

*MLB.com: Astros vs. Yankees, position-by-position.

*Looks like it'll be Greinke and Verlander at home, with Cole starting Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.

*FanGraphs' Jay Jaffe: Did MLB pull a switcheroo with the playoff baseballs?

*A Musical Selection: