Earlier this year, the Houston Astros were dubbed as “Crush City” for their ability to hit home runs. The team is currently ranked 2nd in Major League Baseball behind the Toronto Blue Jays in team home runs. The Astros also recently set an MLB record with 11 players hitting double-digit home runs. They can even extend that record in these last six games of the season with Jake Marisnick and Jed Lowrie currently sitting at nine home runs each. The Astros also have five players with at least 20 home runs in rookie sensation Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena, and Chris Carter. While the Astros have a large first place lead in MLB strikeouts, they have proven they can crush homers for wins.
As exciting as the Astros unexpected success has been this year, these next six games will be most important games the Astros have played since their devastating sweep from the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 World Series. This week, the Astros have to be more than Crush City. This week, the Astros need to add on Houston’s other well-known nickname Clutch City.
Houston’s NBA Rockets were originally labeled as “Choke City” by the Houston Chronicle after blowing back to back large leads against the Phoenix Suns in the 1994 playoffs. The Rockets then surprised the leagues and even their own fans to come back and beat the Suns in a seven game series that later lead to their first of two NBA championships.
This week the Astros will travel for their final road series of the year facing the Mariners and Diamondbacks each for a three-game series. The Astros are an AL-worst 29-46 on the road this season. Only the three last place teams in MLB (Reds, Braves, and Phillies) rank worst in standings on the road.
With the Angels only 0.5 games back, Twins 1.5 games back, and even the Indians 4 games back for the second wild-card spot in the AL, the Astros have to go on a six-game road series to close the season. The Astros have always been considered a leader in the metrics mindset. Well, the metrics show Astros fans have a lot to be nervous about over the course of the next week. Even if the Astros successfully win the second wild card playoff spot, they will likely have to travel on the road to face either the Yankees or Blue Jays for a one game duel. But, we will discuss scenarios later.
The Astros faithful are hoping the team can pull a little bit of magic from the 1994 and 1995 Rockets. In fact, the Astros technically still have a shot to win the division now only 2.5 games back from the Rangers after taking two of three games this past weekend. Below is a breakdown of possible playoff scenarios:
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Astros win a wild card spot and face either the Yankees, Blue Jays, Twins, Angels, or Indians depending on who wins the other wild card spot. However, the Astros will likely face either the Yankees or Blue Jays. This depends on who beats out the other in the AL East or if one of them have an absolute collapse to allow one of the other previous teams listed to sneak in. If the Astros win the one-game duel, they will then proceed to face the winner of the AL. This will likely come down to the Blue Jays or Royals.
The Rangers fall a part of the next few days, and the Astros win division. They would then likely face the second place AL team (the Royals or Blue Jays).
My Ultimate Prediction
The Astros win the second wild card playoff spot and face the Yankees in a one-game duel in New York. They then proceed to beat the Royals in the AL division series. The Astros then beat the Rangers in a historic seven-game AL championship series to advance to the World Series to take their former NL rival St. Louis Cardinals. They beat the Cardinals in a seven-game series to win the franchise’s first World Series. It’s the perfect ending right? Astros beating the Rangers in the ALCS and then the Cardinals in the World Series? You can’t draw it up better than that! Let’s see if the Astros can add some Clutch City this week and the weeks to follow!