Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

The Astros beat Oakland 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the Best-of-Five series. They've won four straight playoff games on the road. The 2019 Astros won five straight road games from September 13-25, and three straight playoff games at Dodger Stadium. Oakland leads the season series 7-5 now. I would be perfectly fine with this season series ending 7-6 in Oakland's favor. It's the second time the Astros have won four straight postseason games - the last time being the sweep of the 2018 Cleveland Indians and Game 1 of the 2018 ALCS against Boston. Houston needs to go 1-2 to go to their 4th straight ALCS. Game 3 is today at 3:30pm Central. 

As McTaggart notes, teams that go up 2-0 in a Best-of-Five seal the deal 88% of the time. FiveThirtyEight has it 91-9 Astros in the series, and 58-42 Astros in Game 3. I made a mistake yesterday, and since my body is all, "Get up, punk" at 4:30am now, I checked FanGraphs before they had updated their Playoff Odds. FanGraphs currently has it 90-10 Astros in the series.

Dusty Baker:

I've been up 2-0 before. You got to put 'em away when you got a chance. It's not complete and it's not done.

More Dusty:

With every victory, the energy and the confidence grows. We're expecting good things to happen.

*Jesus Luzardo will pitch today for Oakland. It's going to be Game 4 Hero Jose Urquidy for the Astros, as Zack Greinke apparently has arm soreness, and recently saw a team doctor. Shoutout to the 2020 World Series Champion the Buies Creek Astros. Dusty:

Greinke is ailing some. He didn't say much about it, but it's been pretty evident the last three or four starts that he wasn't himself. Urquidy has been dealing, so it was kind of an easy choice. 

Martin Maldonado said he found out about Greinke's arm soreness on Twitter after yesterday's game, so these events seem to be some sort of a surprise.

Luzardo pitched in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series against the White Sox and allowed 6H/3ER, 5K:0BB, 2HR in 3.1IP. 

*The Astros only needed 2IP from the bullpen. The A's needed 4.2IP from their bullpen. 

ALDS Bullpen Tally:

Astros: 7IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:1BB

A's: 9.2IP, 8H/8R (4ER), 7K:2BB

The A's have two hits in the 5th Inning or later in the first two games of this ALDS.

*A's Game 2 SP Sean Manaea, who allowed four runs in 4.1IP:

It's my job to go out there and pitch, and I just didn't do that today. It sucks, but I know this team is going to figure this thing out and turn it around.

*Framber Valdez Frambushed the A's lineup: 7IP, 5H/2ER, 4K:1BB. He was nasty, and everyone knows it. He had a Gerrit Cole Special - the only two runs he allowed came on solo shots. The A's did not have a plate appearance with runners in scoring position all day. FanGraphs' Ben Clemens:

Valdez threw 103 pitches...and faced 24 batters. Exactly six of those batters hit a ball in the air, which I'll define here as a ball hit with a 10 degree or higher launch angle. Two were hit hard; those became home runs. He simply didn't give the A's many chances to leave the yard.

Framber Valdez, postseason 2020: 12IP, 7H/2ER, 9K:3BB. 

ESPN's Alden Gonzalez:

Here's something that should scare what remains of the postseason field: The Astros' offense looks locked in, and in Framber Valdez...the Astros have what appears to be the equivalent of a top-of-the-rotation starter.

*The funny thing is that Dusty said Enoli Paredes was unavailable. Then he handled the 8th on ten pitches.

*Houston went back-to-back in the 5th inning with Maldonado and Springer. Maldonado's home run led to this hilarious sentence from the Associated Press:

Maldonado's solo shot in the fifth chased loser Sean Manaea in his first appearance of this postseason.

Just devastating.

It was George Springer's 2nd home run of the game and the 16th and 17th postseason home runs of his career. A full and complete list of MLB players with 17+ postseason home runs:

1. Manny Ramirez - 29

2. Bernie Williams - 22

3. Derek Jeter - 20

4. Albert Pujols - 19

5. Reggie Jackson / Mickey Mantle - 18

7. David Ortiz / Jim Thome / Nelson Cruz / George Springer - 17

Only Albert Pujols is an active player, and "active" is a generous qualifier. It was Springer's 2nd 2HR postseason game (2018 ALDS Game 3). Thanks to Stats by STATS, we find that the only other player to have a 4-hit game and a 2HR game in back-to-back postseason games was Mickey Mantle in the 1960 World Series (which the Yankees lost and I'm going to stop this sentence right n). He passed Babe Ruth and [squints] Jayson Werth on the all-time postseason HR list.

The most postseason home runs at Dodger Stadium:

1. Reggie Jackson: 6

2. George Springer: 5

This could be broken this afternoon. Springer:

I don't really pay attention to that stuff. I'd rather win. I'd much rather us win.

Richard Justice: The impact of George Springer on the Astros is hard to overstate.

The San Francisco Chronicle: George Springer will be a free agent. Giants, anyone?

*Josh Reddick got his 2nd hit of the post-season! Truly the End Times are upon us. Now: Josh Reddick's last postseason extra-base hit was 2019 ALCS Game 3, a span of 38 PAs. 

*Yuli Gurriel's 9th Inning GIDP was just the 2nd GIDP in his 187 career postseason PAs. 

*Where's Mike Fiers? Not one of their four best starters, according to Susan Slusser - the A's beat writer.

*SI's Emma Baccellieri: Vindication or Nightmare: What to make of the Astros' postseason success.

*Yahoo's Tim Brown: Relegated to the shadows by scandal, the Astros are playing their way back into the spotlight.

*NY Times' David Waldstein: Ok, you despise the Astros, but you gotta love Dusty. There are a lot of great quotes and one including, for some reason, the Asterisk Tour guy.

*Yuli, on Yordan:

He wants to get back. He wants to get back with the team. He says it almost every game. So we tell him, 'All right, show up.' It doesn't matter if you're injured, show up.

*Check out the 52 guys showing up in West Palm Beach for instructional workouts and notice that not a single one of them is named "Forrest Whitley."

*The Yankees struck out 18 times in a 9-inning game, a postseason record. That series is tied 1-1. 

*ESPN's Sam Miller: The six types of MLB postseason games.

*Globe Life Field is not going to require temperature checks for fans.

*The Ringer: Can "Am I The Asshole?" actually help make people better?

*The Economist: How do Nobel Prize winners find out they won?

*The senator who stood up to Joseph McCarthy when no one else would.

*A Musical Selection: RIP Eddie Van Halen.