Thursday, October 5, 2023

Thursday Morning Hot Links

Okay, so we now know who the Astros will welcome to Houston on Saturday at a time to be determined: The Minnesota Correas. Minnesota took the first two games from Toronto to win this ridiculously-short, idea-which-should-immediately-be-abandoned idea of a "postseason series."

Anything can happen in a three-game series (see: A's, Oakland; Royals, Kansas City) but the Twins held the Blue Jays - who had the 5th-highest AVG, 4th-highest OBP, and 6th-highest OPS in the AL to one single, solitary run...but only scored five runs themselves, so who knows. 

Games 1&2 will be in Houston on Saturday and Sunday

Games 3&4 will be in Minneapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday

Game 5 will be in Houston on Friday. 

The Twins won their first postseason series since beating Oakland in the 2002 ALDS before dropping in five games to the eventual World Series winners Anaheim Angels in the ALCS. Prior to this series, the Twins had lost 18 straight postseason games. In fact, from 2003-2023 the Twins went 4-21 in the postseason. Carlos Correa has won 47 postseason games from 2015-2023. 


This is a young, talented group that really wants it. I tell everybody this reminds me a lot of the '15 Astros, when the young talent came up, matched with the veterans that were there already and then they started going off. That's how I feel about this organization or the squad that we have right now. 

In six games against the 2023 Astros, the Twins went 4-2, outscoring Houston 29-25. 

The first time the Twins faced Houston was in Minneapolis from April 7-9. Altuve was injured. Verlander wasn't even a thought. 

April 7: 3-2 Twins in 10 innings. It was 47 degrees at first pitch. Jose Urquidy got the start on the mound, David Hensley started the game at 1B. Ryne Stanek blew the save after Houston took a 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th. 

April 8: 9-6 Twins. Minnesota put up a 4-spot in the 2nd and 8th innings. Yordan hit a grand slam, Jeremy Pena hit 10% of his season home runs. Luis Garcia struggled, Ronel Blanco allowed four hits and two walks in the 8th. 

April 9: 5-1 Astros. Hunter Brown threw 7IP, 2H/0ER. Chas McCormick had 4RBI. 

The second time the Astros and Twins rumbled was Memorial Day Weekend, May 29-31. The series opener was Altuve's 8th game of the 2023 season. 

May 29: 7-5 Twins in 10 innings. Houston had a 5-4 lead going into the top of the 9th, thanks mainly to Altuve's 7th Inning Grand Slam. J.P. France was okay. Abreu and Pressly blew it in the 9th and 10th. 

May 30: 5-1 Astros. Brandon Bielak threw 5.1 solid innings. Bregman and McCormick homered. 

May 31: 8-2 Twins. Altuve did not play. Jake Meyers and Yainer Diaz homered (it was just Diaz's 2nd homer of the season). Hunter Brown and Parker Mushinski allowed 7ER in the first six innings. 

Not much to examine. Altuve didn't play in three of the games. Verlander hadn't shown up yet. Urquidy, Brown, France, and Bielak likely won't get a start in the postseason. Garcia is out until next season. That's all six starters in the season series. 

*Here's Twins fans chanting "We want Houston" as they leave the stadium.

*Old Friend Alert (Twins who used to be with the Astros): Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Christian Vazquez, Hank Conger (1B Coach), Kevin Golstein (Special Assistant to the GM, Player Personnel).

*FanGraphs already has it Houston 56.8 - 43.2 Minnesota. And Six Flags 54.8 - 45.2 Baltimore. Of course, FanGraphs thought Tampa and Toronto to win the Wild Card rounds. 17 of ESPN's MLB Experts picked Toronto over Minnesota. 22 of the 27 picked Tampa over Six Flags. FanGraphs' Playoff Odds missed three of the four Wild Card series, only getting Philadelphia/Miami correct. 

*ESPN: What to know about the eight remaining playoff teams.

*The Astros are 27-11 at Minute Maid Park in the postseason since 2015 (not including 2020 but, sadly, including the 2019 World Series). 

*The most important player to the Astros' October? Cristian Javier. Pitching Coach Josh Miller:

I've said to numerous people the last couple of months he's been close. He's shown glimpses of the 2022 version of himself. It just hasn't been put together. He certainly finished the season strong. He seems to have gotten his fastball shape back in line which is what we've been searching for all year, and that bodes well going into a postseason.

*McTaggart: Can the Astros figure out their home-field blues?

*There's a good shot that the Astros at least have a late-afternoon/evening slot on Saturday, as Game 1 of the Rangers/Orioles series will start at 1pm thanks to a Billy Joel concert at Camden Yards that night. 

*A.J. Blubaugh is the Astros' sleeper prospect in the Arizona Fall League.

*What's it like to be recruited by Deion Sanders?

*A Musical Selection: