Here we are - Game 5. The Astros are packed and ready to go...somewhere: Toronto, Arlington, or...less desirably, back to Houston. This may be the only time in the history of Ever that I would rather be in Arlington than in Houston.
I'm sure other blogs have already discussed this, but where does Monday's loss rank as far as Most Gut-Wrenching? The most recent loss as painful as Monday's was the Pujols/Lidge knockout, but there are similarities between the two: there were still games to be played after both, but the Pujols game was to go to the World Series, not the ALCS.
You'll have to forgive me because for this entire series I was at a wedding (it wasn't a week-long wedding, that was just the most affordable option), staying with friends who didn't have cable, and not in a socially-acceptable position to just yell and scream about baseball. I also wasn't in a position to just bust out the computer and angrily blog for hours and hours. My wife and daughter and I were driving from Nashville to Atlanta, listening (sporadically, through the mountains of southern Tennessee, anyway) on the At-Bat app. We went from Elated in Monteagle to Despondent in Chattanooga. I haven't been that mad at an Astros game in...ten years. Luke Gregerson walked Drew Butera? I almost broke the windshield throwing my hat. Anyhow. Dink hits from the bullpen and a dumb Correa error: that might be the story on what ended up killing the Astros' 2015 season. But it might not.
Of course the Narrative is how the Astros bounce back from being six outs away from a ticket to the ALCS before BABIPzebub killed Game 4. Game 5 is tonight at 7pm Central on FS1.
*The Royals are favored by 1.5 runs with an over/under at 7.5.
*In what is perhaps the most obvious Take of 2015, USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz says that the bullpens give Kansas City an advantage in Game 5:
The (Royals') grinding was indeed commendable, but it also exposed a flaw in the Astros' bullpen that is especially costly in October - the inability to put away hitters.
*The Kansas City Star reported that the Astros' clubhouse after yesterday's workout was loose and loud. Hinch:
We had a belief about this team as a group inside the clubhouse before anyone else did, so there's great confidence for us. We didn't make the playoffs by mistake. We're in Game 5 of the division series (and) control our own destiny. It can't get any better than that.
*Jerry Crasnick wrote that the Astros are keeping their cool despite Game 4. And in the way that only a national writer who only halfway pays attention can, said that the Astros' collapse on Monday was "stunning." No, it was unbelievable in a "how can this be happening again" kind of way. That the bullpen faltered was not stunning, what was stunning was how spectacularly they faltered. And now Hinch is playing coy about the possibility of Dallas Keuchel pitching in relief...
...which is something that I had a problem with on Monday. The Astros had a chance to go play for a pennant and save McHugh for a few days, and Hinch managed the bullpen like he still had a couple of months of baseball left. Harris gives up a single? Okay. Two singles? I am - with the benefit of hindsight and the smell of blood still in my nostrils - going to Mike Fiers, or...someone else. Yes, this is petty and moderately unreasonable, but this series is going to a Game 5 precisely because of the bullpen. I don't trust a single person in it, and I think that's justifiable.
*There's a link to the article above, but Evan Drellich covers the bullpen options for tonight thoroughly.
*The Astros could, uh, really use Jose Altuve's bat any minute now.
*Here is a fantastic profile on Colby Rasmus by the New York Times' Billy Witz. On offering advice to the rest of the team after Monday's loss, Rasmus told Witz he is careful what to say:
People try to get you to do what they want you to do instead of what you feel is good for you to do. That's the nature of the beat. For us as baseball players, it's up to us to decipher what goes into our minds.
Rasmus is a damn national treasure and, according to Witz, "Luhnow acknowledges that Rasmus may be playing himself into a contract above what the Astros would be willing to pay."
*Bun B wrote a song for the Astros called "Crush City."
*In the ESPN Franchise Index, the Astros made the 3rd-biggest jump in MLB.
*Oh yeah, the Arizona Fall League started yesterday.
*I'm going to be a nervous wreck for the next 12.5 hours.