Sunday, October 22, 2017

Astros Win the Pennant Links

It happened. Did you think it didn't happen? It did happen. The Houston Astros have won the American League Pennant, vanquishing evil and restoring the hope to all mankind that - sometimes - life isn't so predictable. Charlie Morton was excellent, Lance McCullers was heroic in relief, and the offensive woes of the past were discarded like a clingy girlfriend.

Morton threw 5IP, 2H/0ER, 5K:1BB, 37 of his 54 pitches thrown for strikes. McCullers threw 4IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:1BB, 38 of his 54 pitches thrown for strikes. Morton:
There was a lot of faith from the organization to bring me in here. It wasn't just, 'Hey we're signing a guy and hoping he does good.' No, it was, 'We're signing a guy for a lot of money that gets hurt a lot, has a lot of ups and downs.'

*For the first time this postseason, every player in the lineup got a hit. Brian McCann was 1x2 with 2BB and a 2-run double. And the Yankees are paying the Astros $5.5m this season and next season. Thanks, Yankees.

*New York Daily News:
The Bronx Bombers got their Astros kicked in Houston Saturday night...

I love our personality. We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable.

*Joe Girardi to A.J. Hinch: "Go win it all."

*Alex Bregman's throw home in the 5th inning was the defensive play of the game. Bregman:
Ten games before the end of the regular season, we had a similar play, and I tried to turn a double play and we didn't get the guy at first base. I told myself, and I talked to [Hinch and Cora], we thought in the playoffs in a close game, it would be smart to try and get the lead runner. We were fortunate enough to put it on the cash, and McCann made a great tag.

I will now spend all day wondering what "put it on the cash" means. Grant Brisbee wrote about the throw:
The Astros are going to the World Series for a lot of reasons. George Springer lasting 11 picks in the draft. Marwin Gonzalez developing into a secret-not-secret weapon. The Blue Jays drafting Egan Smith a pick ahead of Dallas Keuchel. Bregman's throw was one of those reasons, except it happened after all those other dominos dell. It was a perfectly awful decision unless it was a perfect throw, which it was. It was baseball perfection, for all the right and wrong reasons.

We've earned it. I think our team has been singularly focused from the very beginning. In Spring Training, we felt we had this caliber team, and at that point, we stopped talking about it. There's two teams left standing, and I don't care what cities they're from - one of them is from Houston.

As a team, since Spring Training, we set the tone on doing things right. We got together and we created an environment in the clubhouse, a fun environment, and I'm proud. I'm proud of the whole team. Everybody has gone out there and [done] their job. We have gone through ups and downs, but we have been able to overcome the tough situations.

I honestly didn't know after the 2012-13 seasons if I'd ever be a part of something like this. That's the human element. You doubt when there's no light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of us hung in there. There's not a lot of us left from those years, but the guys who are left showed some grit, showed some determination. Man, we had some quality, quality ballplayers in those years who are still here. It means the world to myself to be in this situation with these guys, going to the World Series.

Correa, on Altuve:
We love each other so much, and we embrace each other and try to get better together. For us to accomplish something like this as teammates and double-play partners, it's extremely special.

You don't get to experience moments like this a whole lot. There are guys who played a long time - great players - who never got to experience it. And here I am, experiencing this with this group.

*Nolan Ryan, on Lance McCullers:
He's got as good a curveball as we've seen in the game this year. He has a lot of confidence in it, and it's special to watch.

McCullers got his tenacity from his father:
It comes from how I grew up, man. My dad taught me to be a bulldog. This game was, in a way, kind of stolen from him. He got hurt a lot toward the end of his career, and he had a lot left to give.

*FanGraphs' Travis Sawchik: McCullers' curveball tandemed the Astros to the World Series.

*McCullers threw 24 straight curveballs:

*Read Jeff Passan's inside story on how the Astros won the Pennant. Bregman:
When you're playing Game 7 of the ALCS, you need to play aggressive. I was playing to win. I wasn't playing not to lose. That's the difference since we got home. And I guarantee you one thing. When we go to L.A., we're playing to f****ing win.

*Justin Verlander: ALCS MVP.

*If you only buy one shirt, make sure it's "I literally love Justin Verlander."

*Check that locker room celebration.

*Sports on Earth's Cliff Corcoran has the four lessons the Astros learned.

*Collin McHugh takes his slider seriously.

*The World Series will feature two teams (one of them is the Astros, did you know that? Crazy, huh?) who won 100 games in the regular season for the first time since 1970. David Schoenfield writes that the series will come down to depth.

*SB Nation: Astros/Dodgers is the matchup we deserve.

*Tuesday night will be Kershaw vs. Keuchel. Justin Verlander will pitch G2. Keuchel:
We know MLB wanted the Yankees and Dodgers. There was no bones about it. We kind of spoiled the party for them. We're happy to do that.

*The Dodgers are Vegas' favorites to win the World Series.
FanGraphs gives the Astros the World Series in 56.9% of their simulations.
FiveThirtyEight gives the Dodgers the World Series in 56% of their simulations.