ASTROS MUST WIN WORLD SERIES AT HOME
The 2019 World Series started off unlike most other fall classics—with the home team losing all five games.
Hopefully for our Houston Astros this trend didn’t continue in last night’s Game 6. Or if it did, today’s Game 7 needs to end this strange phenomenon. The times the visitors won all five games were in 1906 and 1996.
This World Series has been a wacky one from the get-go during the first five games. In the opening two games at Minute Maid Park last week the hosting Houston Astros were outscored by the Washington Nationals 17-7, losing Game One 5-4 and being completely outclasses 12-3 in Game Two.
But when the action switched to the Nation’s Capital, everything else changed, too. With the Astros powerful one-two punch on the mound—Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander—both hung with losses, the mound scene was focused on Houston’s No. 3 pitcher Zack Greinke and some talented arms in the bullpen.
This group of hurlers limited the Nationals to single runs in all three games while the Astros found their hitting shoes and performed like they did while posting 107 wins during the regular season.
None of their wins were blowouts like Game 2, but the Astros’ pitchers did a beautiful job for those 27 innings while the offense outscored the Nats 19-3 and came home Monday leading the World Series 3 games to 2 after winning Game Three 4-1, Game Four 8-1 and Game Five 7-1.
All three victories at Washington could be attributed to the stellar performances of Greinke, rookie Jose Urquidy and Cole plus the clutch pitching of the Houston bullpen who stopped the National’s hitters cold.
Washington never led in any of the three games in the home stadium, a feat matched only by the 1949 Brooklyn Dodgers, who lost the series 4-1.
With the series tied at 2-2 on Sunday and everyone hyped up over the re-match of Game One starters Cole and Max Scherzer, the pendulum quickly swung in favor of Houston when Scherzer was scratched due to stiffness in his neck.
Right-hander Joe Ross was Scherzer’s replacement, finding out only three hours before game time that he was starting Game 5. Ross had a 5.48 ERA in 27 regular season appearances. He worked 64 innings and walked nearly five batters per nine innings.
The big bats of the Astros put them ahead 4-0 after four innings thanks to two-run homers by Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa. George Springer topped the scoring when he slugged his 15th career post-season home run—seven in the World Series—in the top of the ninth inning.
Cole’s mound win Sunday could very well be the last time he pitches in an Astros’ uniform because he will most likely opt for free agency and is a member of Team (Scott) Boras, the same agent who persuaded former Houston ace Dallas Keuchel to sit out half of the 2019 season waiting for the right money.
Cole is worth top dollar as a free agent and may eliminate the Astros’ attempt to keep him on their roster. But he has a chance to help Houston become a dynasty after them getting to the World Series twice in three years because of their pitching.
Astros’ owner Jim Crane is still hopeful Cole will re-sign with his team. “Certainly, we’re going to keep a close eye on it, and if there’s a deal that’s reasonable, we’d certainly like to have him back,” he told the Houston Chronicle during the AL Championship Series.
“I’m not saying we’re going to be able to do it,” Crane continued. “It just depends where it ends up and what he wants to do.”
I think it boils down to what his greedy agent Scott Boras wants to do.
KWICKIES…Despite the fact the Texas Longhorns were slight favorites against TCU Saturday, their porous defense led to a 37-27 victory by the Horned Frogs. Texas now stands at 5-3 and must meet Kansas State—a team that upset previously undefeated Oklahoma 48-41—Saturday in Austin.
Tiger Woods won the Zozo Championship at Inzai City, Japan by firing a 67 on the final day to defeat local favorite Hideki Matsuyama by three strokes. The victory was Tiger’s 82nd, tying Sam Snead’s record of PGA Tour victories. Tiger had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee two months ago, his fifth on the same problem joint.
Thanks to LSU’s 23-20 victory over Auburn Saturday, the Tigers moved two points ahead of Alabama in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Football poll despite the Crimson Tide’s convincing 48-7 win over Arkansas. Ohio State and Clemson retained their No. 3 and No. 4 positions while No. 5 Penn State and No. 6 Florida each moved up one notch. Oregon jumped four places to No. 7, Georgia moved up two to No. 8, Utah moved three places to No. 9 while Oklahoma slid five notches to No. 10. Baylor came in at No. 12 and SMU is at No. 15.
The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers remained undefeated while Miami and Cincinnati stayed winless after last week’s NFL action. The Patriots defeated the Cleveland Browns 27-13 for their 20th straight home victory while the 49ers really put it on the Carolina Panthers 51-13.
JUST BETWEEN US…Houston’s star quarterback Deshaun Watson took the team on his back that culminated in two fourth period drives with touchdown passes enabling the Texans to overcome a 21-13 deficit and come back for an impressive 27-24 victory over the visiting Oakland Raiders Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston. Every other team in the AFC South Division won their games Sunday, so Watson made sure his team kept pace, one-half game behind the front-running Indianapolis Colts. The bad news is that three-time MVP J.J. Watt was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.