Astros Blanked On Final Day
ALDS With Cleveland Awaits Friday

Curtain closes on 2018 season
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Hey, even God rested on the seventh day. Why shouldn't the Astros? Maybe that wasn't their attitude in Baltimore, but you wouldn't know it the way the hitters failed to show up. Outside of a fourth-inning single by Jose Altuve, the Astros were no-hit in a 4-0 shutout by the lowly Orioles to conclude the 2018 regular season.

Give some credit to Jimmy Yacabonis, Paul Fry and Mychal Givens for their combined one-hitter but the tone was set when Altuve got his base hit and was immediately replaced for a pinch-runner. This was all about keeping everyone healthy for the postseason that begins Friday back in Houston with Game One of the A.L.D.S. against Cleveland. More on this later.

Charlie Morton pitched three innings of shutout ball then Brad Peacock was punched for all four runs of the game. With roster spots at a premium for the postseason roster, the bad inning may have cost the veteran a spot for the first round.

It may have also opened a door for Josh James who tossed two shutout innings, allowing one hit and plunking a batter. It may have also opened a spot for Lance McCullers who struck out the only two batters he faced in relief.

The Astros might carry just 11 pitchers into the first round and surely that will include Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Morton, Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Tony Sipp and Collin McHugh. That leaves three spots to choose between Peacock, James, McCullers, Will Harris, Joe Smith, Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon. Lefthanded rookie Flamber Valdez has been sent to Florida and told to stay sharp.

With five days to prepare, both clubs can arrange their pitching rotations however they want so it could be anyone starting Friday's opener but logic would tend to say Verlander (16-9) would get the call against Corey Kluber (20-7). in fact, the Indians have just announced that Kluber and Carlos Corrasco will start the first two games.

I anticipate the first pitch will be a little after 4:00 p.m. Central time because the other series will feature the Red Sox and possibly the Yankees. The networks bend over backwards to put those two teams into prime time whenever possible so the Indians and Astros will get stuffed into the afternoon slots as afterthoughts. Be prepared for the World Champions to get a lot of treatment like second-class citizens compared to almighty Boston and New York.

It should be a good series.

- Bob Hulsey