On the surface, one may not want to list the Houston Astros' Cristian Javier as one of the all-time great pitchers in postseason history and frankly, that is fair. When you try to make a list of the best pitchers in playoffs, one thinks of Mariano Rivera, Madison Bumgarner, Curt Schilling, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax....the list is long and illustrious.
However, Cristian Javier just did something in the Astros' Game Three win over the Twins that none of those guys achieved even once....and it wasn't his first time doing it.
Astros take Game Three of ALDS behind Cristian Javier's record-breaking start
There was a lot to like about Game Three if you are a Houston fan. Jose Abreu and Alex Bregman had the big games that the Astros sorely needed from them while Yordan Alvarez keeps doing Yordan Alvarez things. However, Cristian Javier was the star of the show and with good reason.
Javier was basically cruise control throughout the game despite finding himself in a bit of trouble in the first inning after a walk and a double. However, after two straight strikeouts, he was out of the jam and he would go on to give Houston five innings scoreless innings. Jose Abreu's three run blast gave Houston the early lead in the first inning, Alex Bregman would add a solo shot in the 5th, and it was smooth sailing after that with homers from Yordan and Abreu (again) putting a bow on Game Two.
Astros fans will of course remember the combined no-hitter that Javier was a part of in last year's World Series with delight. However, with Tuesday's dominant performance under his belt, Cristian became the first pitcher in postseason history to strike out nine or more batters while giving up one hit or less TWICE. Doing so once was already an exclusive club (just look at Catania's list again...that is literally all the guys to have done it at all), but Javier went ahead and created a club all his own.
With the Astros now leading 2-1, they are in great shape to advance to the ALCS yet again, although the Twins certainly aren't going to go down easy with Joe Ryan on the mound.