You shouldn't make the Astros angry.
Astros Pose In Celebration
(c) USA Today
With another round of cheating allegations to dispel, the Astros showed they are a darned good road team too. Carlos Correa's two-run double, followed by a pair of RBI hits by Michael Brantley, a two-run double by Alex Bregman and a "take THAT!" three-run homer by little Jose Altuve sent the Chicago White Sox out the door Tuesday in a 10-1 rout.
Houston-born reliever Ryan Tepera of the ChiSox claimed without evidence that he thought the Astros were still cheating as was found back in 2017. Both Dusty Baker and Correa came back hard with the facts. Houston's offensive stats on the road are roughly equal to their stats at home.
"Disrespectful words with no facts with nothing to say," scoffed Correa. "He needs to know the facts."
Whether those words stung in their ears after a season full of booing on the road, the Astros took out their pain on Chicago pitching. They were challenged by starter Carlos Rodon but Correa's double chased the White Sox ace in the third inning. Six relievers, including Tepera, followed and all allowed hits as Houston methodically built the lead from four to six and finally nine.
Altuve scored four times and, although he started the game with a double into the left field corner, a hit-by-pitch in the third where the Southside fans celebrated with loud cheers probably elevated his competitive fires even higher.
Brantley and Altuve both had three hits to lead the 14-hit assault. In the eighth, Kendall Graveman plunked ChiSox star Jose Abreu, causing a tirade from Chicago skipper Tony LaRussa. No way to know if it was retaliation for hitting Altuve earlier in the game, but LaRussa wanted punishment. Maybe he'll get it from the league office but I doubt MLB will take it seriously after they hit Altuve first.
Center fielder Jake Meyers was the only casualty. He crashed into the wall chasing down Gavin Sheets' second-inning home run. Meyers will need to be evaluated the next two days before it is decided whether he will be available for the A.L.C.S. His left shoulder was hurt reaching over the fence for the ball.
Lance McCullers lasted four innings and gave up Chicago's only run. The Astros' bullpen was stellar, allowing just two hits over the final five innings.
With Chicago eliminated, the Astros turn their attention to the surprising Boston Red Sox, who upset the Tampa Bay Rays to set up a repeat of the 2018 A.L.C.S. That was the year Boston won it all in easy fashion with Alex Cora running the team after being Houston's bench coach the year before.
The best-of-seven series begins Friday night in Houston at 7:07 p.m. Central time. Starting pitchers are not yet named. The Fox network will be carrying this series throughout.
Houston is spending their fifth year in around one step from the World Series. To review:
2017: Defeated New York. Defeated Los Angeles in the World Series.
2018: Lost to Boston in the ALCS.
2019: Defeated New York. Lost to Washington in the World Series.
2020: Lost to Tampa Bay in the ALCS.
This will be Houston's second trip to the A.L.C.S. with Baker at the helm. The first three were with A.J. Hinch in charge.
- Bob Hulsey