I know Houston Astros fans are pretty down still following the team’s elimination from the playoffs this past Wednesday. Despite the early exit, there is still plenty of buzz around town with this impressive young core of players and the future is still bright. As the Astros front office starts to plan their offseason, the Kansas City Royals are still playing in the American League Championship Series. The Royals are continuing their recent hot streak started in game four of the ALDS against the Astros.
The Astros were a team on a mission, and they took the team that is two games away from a second World Series appearance Royals to a fifth and deciding game. They went into the ALDS on a hot streak after eliminating the Yankees in the Wild Card Game and played well in the first three games of the series despite losing game two. The Astros had the opportunity to control their own destiny with a win in game four or five, but then the Royals woke up after trailing in game four until the eighth inning. The point I am trying to make is that the Astros were good enough to make the playoffs and were in a position to advance to the next round.
What have the Royals done so far versus the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALCS? They are now 2-0 after limiting the potent Blue Jays offense to three runs in the first two games of the series. The reason I am writing about this in an Astros’ blog is the way they won game two last night. They went ‘Game 4’ on the Blue Jays bullpen, coughing up a lead in the late innings of the game.
Through six innings, David Price was dominating the Royals through six innings, striking out seven hitters out and only allowing one hit. Then Price came out to the mound during the seventh inning to continue his dominance on the night. I want to detail what happened after Price took the mound in the ninth, but I want to caution you, these events will sound eerily similar to something that happened against the Astros. Please don’t read this post as you are operating a motorized vehicle as you may have bad memories flash in your mind.
Game 2 – ALCS. The seventh inning with David Price on the mound.
- Batter 1: Ben Zobrist singles on a soft fly ball that drops in front of Jose Bautista.
- Batter 2: Lorenzo Cain singles on a line drive to right.
- Batter 3: Eric Hosmer singles to center field, Zobrist scores, and Cain goes to third. (3-1)
- Batter 4: Kendrys Morales grounds out to shortstop allowing Cain to score. (3-2)
- Batter 5: Mike Moustakas singles to right field scoring Hosmer. (3-3)
- Batter 6: Salvador Perez strikes out.
- Batter 7: Alex Gordon hits a double that scores Moustakas. (3-4)
- Pitching change, Aaron Sanchez replaces Price.
- Batter 8: Alex Rios singles scoring Gordon. (3-5)
- Batter 9: Alcides Escobar grounds out.
That is exactly the same thing the Royals did against the Astros in game four that took the air out of their tires for game 5. The Royals singled the Astros to death and pulled off the same feat versus the Blue Jays last night. This brings up a question that Astros fans have had all year, is it better to have a team that looks for contact or the one waiting for the long ball?
This question is something that Jeff Luhnow has tried to answer with the 2015 ‘Crush City’ Astros team. Can a team that strikes out a lot but have an ability to drive the ball when contact is made, win in the MLB? Let’s compare the type of hits the Astros and Royals had during the 2015 season. (Stats from ESPN Team Batting Stats).
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The Astros did prove you can win during the regular season, but you could be susceptible to losing streaks when contact is not being made. I am not a professional baseball player, but I think it would be easier to get a single versus muscling up to hit a homer. The Astros appear to prefer to have mastered the long ball, and the Royals can get a clutch single when needed. The Astros did score more runs, but the Royals finished with the best record in the American League.
Crush City can win some games, but for more consistent winning, the Astros need to add a few more Royal type hitters to the lineup. With a power arm for the bullpen, a first baseman, and a contact hitter or two, the Astros and Royals could meet in the playoffs again, but it will be the Royals going home and watching the Astros. This team gives us great anticipation for the future. Keep up with CTH all offseason for the latest Astros news from a fans’ perspective.