The Astros lost. Wow, that hurts to say.
Don’t you just wish they could’ve been winners forever? How great of a feeling was it for your favorite hometown team to finally be on top of the world? Before the Astros won, the last Houston championship was twenty-one years prior, by the Rockets. Many fans weren’t even breathing the last time Houston tasted gold.
The Astros had their shot to do something that hasn’t been done in 18 years, go back to back. However, they were halted in their history-chasing tracks by a Red-Sox team that frankly was a lot better than the Astros were, in this series. However, you’d think the series should have been a lot more even. On paper the Stros’ were the better team simply due to their pitching, so what happened?
You can say whatever you want to help you cope with getting knocked out of the playoffs, but the fact is, Boston played better. No one will debate that. However, one argument that has been on repeat is, “if Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa had been fully healthy, would the series have gone differently?” It’s not a far-fetched question. Altuve’ and Correa are the two rocks in the middle of the Astros lineup. They’re the anchors, the heavy hitters, the cornerstones, one of the best two-men tandems in the game today, but had they been fully healed from injuries, would it have made a difference?
In the American League Championship series, the Astros batted a measly .219 as a team, while Boston hit .233. Not that much of a difference, right? Let’s dive a little deeper. With runners on, the Astros batted .190. That’s abysmal. The Red-Sox batted .257. With runners on base with two outs, the Astros batted .244. The Red-Sox batted .303. They came up in clutch situations and performed. The Astros did not.
With runners in scoring position and two outs, the Red-Sox batted an astonishing .389. Houston batted .280. The Sox took care of most of their offensive opportunities while the Astros just couldn’t cash in. Would Altuve or Carlos have made a difference? Possibly. However, I doubt it would’ve been enough to overcome an offensive unit that seemed to grab you by the throat and feast, every time they smelled blood in the water.
Going into the series everyone thought the Astros pitching would’ve propelled them past the Sox, but in this crazy world of baseball, it was the exact opposite. The Red-Sox starters had an earned run average of 4.38, and the Astros had an earned run average of 5.53. Neither are great numbers, but let’s dive deeper one more time. The Red-Sox bullpen had an earned run average of 3.54, and the Astros, even in their pen that had been so dominant all season, had an earned run average of 5.79. Could even two phenomenal players like Correa and Altuve being 100% make up that much of a difference in this series?
Carlos Correa seemed to be turning a corner, as he was connecting with the ball for the first time in what seemed like an extremely long time. However, the power numbers still weren’t there, so it didn’t matter much. Altuve, always being the little engine that can, played his heart out even on a bum knee. Who knows? Maybe with the heart of your lineup healthy, it might have energized the entire offense. Momentum is a key factor in any playoff series, and without Altuve and Correa, there just seemed to be none.
Could it have gone differently? Certainly. However, even with Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve at full capacity, the bullpen would have to have been on par. It wasn’t. The starting pitching would have had to have been stellar like it had been all season. It wasn’t. What we’re left with is a lot of questions, and disappointment, and sad memories of how the Astros were shut down in five games. It should have gone better, but baseball has a way of kicking you in your butt. Injuries played a large part, sure. Many of our hometown heroes were beaten up. However, you can’t put all the fault on it and ignore the obvious that Boston was the better team. Congratulations to the Red Sox, and hopefully we see you right back in October, next year.
**All stats courtesy of Astros.com**