October 17, 2017: The Bullpen Game
Fire this date into the sun. Nothing went really went right for Astros pitchers after Lance McCullers had a masterful performance, and there are ways to defend Hinch for pulling him when he did (we'll get to that). But the bullpen should have to stay at a Holiday Inn on Coney Island for that crap yesterday. Yankees tie the series 2-2. The Astros have lost back-to-back games for the first time since the Oakland series, September 8-10. Once again, though, 2017 is not 2015.
*The Yankees are 5-0 at home this postseason and have won 18 of their past 21 games at Yankee Stadium. FanGraphs' simulations have the Astros making the World Series 56.8% of the time. FiveThirtyEight's simulations have it at 56%. FiveThirtyEight also gives Tanaka and the Yankees a 54-46 edge over the Astros in G5 (and 60-40 Astros in G6).
*The Astros have 18 hits through four games. Hunter Atkins notes the Astros' offensive struggles this series. After four ALCS games the Astros are hitting .153/.254/.220.
Astros' hitters other than Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve in the AL Championship Series: 9-for-89 (.101).— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 18, 2017
We're not going to hit the panic button because we lost two games in a row. We got Keuchel going tomorrow.
This series wasn't over after two games. It certainly isn't over after four.
The Yankee gods are watching us. There's no other way to put it.
*The team that won Game 5 in a 2-2 LCS has gone on to win 18 out of 27 times.
*Richard Justice: The Astros are in a good spot with Keuchel and Verlander next up. Justice:
This wasn't just a defeat. This was a punch to the gut. These are losses that baseball people worry will linger in hearts and minds and have a carryover effect. The Astros can't let this happen. They can't lose Game 4 twice.
*Bregman, who is hitting .194/.242/.419 this postseason:
I think today we got punched in the mouth and we're going to show up ready to compete tomorrow. They put together a good comeback and I think tomorrow is a brand new day. We're going to get some sleep, come to the field, go through our same routine we've gone through all year and get ready to go.
*Yahoo's Mike Oz wonders if Hinch pulled McCullers too soon.
*Hinch, on the bullpen that allowed 6H/5ER, 0K:3BB in 3IP:
We were trying to get outs. I don't think there's anybody that's losing their job over this. They're the guys we're going with. These guys are getting outs. They've gotten outs for us all season.
And then his head fell off. Phil Garner told Jerome Solomon that Hinch was over-managing by pulling McCullers, but Hinch pulling McCullers after 80 pitches and a home run to Judge is statistically defensible. It was about to be McCullers' third time through the lineup. Regard:
McCullers, 1st time: .188/.269/.267
McCullers, 2nd time: .239/.306/.358
McCullers, 3rd time: .365/.437/.567
And he had allowed a .368/.446/.540 line after his 75th pitch of the game throughout the season. Taking him out does make statistical sense. But just like 2015, we're talking about the bullpen and defense after a great McCullers start in October. I'll hold off on Hinch Slander and just kindly suggest that Devenski and Giles DO THEIR JOB.
*McCullers, on his fantastic start:
It's the best I've felt in many many months. I've been trying to tell anyone with ears that, but it seemed like it was not being heard all the time. I'm glad I got an opportunity to show the team that I feel good and I'm ready to go moving forward.
I felt fine, I felt calm. I didn't feel overwhelmed. I just didn't really execute pitches that well. Looking back, I threw too many cutters to Headley. I felt like we had the outer half there, but I let it leak too much over the middle, I guess.
*Giles, this postseason: 5IP, 7H/5ER, 6K:2BB. Giles:
There's no panic. This stuff happens. This is the playoffs. Anything can happen. We got to bounce back and be ready to go.
It may look like it was unraveling real quick. But in my eyes, they were just slowly bringing us to the ground.
*Bill Baer notes that the bullpen hasn't exactly been great this entire postseason. FanRag says the bullpen hasn't been as bad as it has seemed.
*Let's not forget that Jose Altuve had a chance to get Chase Headley - who had been caught in a rundown - but was inexplicably standing two feet behind the bag. Headley was safe sliding into 2nd, giving the Yankees runners at 2nd/3rd with no outs in the 8th. Both would go on to score. Hinch:
The key rally in that inning is not turning Headley's ball into an out. We had an out, obviously Carlos was making an athletic play, Yuli makes an athletic play, Jose tries to tag him, it goes to replay and we don't get the out. Looking back, I think that was a big play, because it set up a ton of pressure on us for the rest of the inning with guys all over the place.
Altuve, on his positioning:
He made a really good throw, but I'm 5'5" and Headley is like 6' something. He kind of blocked me, so I decided to take a step back to make sure I catch that ball, because if I don't do it I don't think I would have caught that ball.
*USA Today's Jorge L. Ortiz draws connections between 2017 ALCS G4 and 2015 ALDS G4. Gurriel:
If you start looking back and analyzing this game and you don't clear out your mind and look toward tomorrow's game, it could affect you. We just need to come out determined to win tomorrow and erase this one, take it as if we lost 8-0, not like they came back on us.
*Beltran, offering his wisdom:
I think we're doing what we have to do as a team. If you come here early, we're doing the same routine we were doing during the regular season. I don't think there's a lot to say other than, 'Go get them tomorrow.'
*FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan wants to talk about Todd Frazier's stupid G3 home run.
*FanGraphs' Travis Sawchik says that Charlie Morton has been ridiculously unlucky. And in a separate article, that the Astros are showing the rest of the league how to put the ball in play.