March 22, 2018

Major League Baseball playoffs: AJ Hinch feels Keuchel, Verlander give Astros 'huge advantage'

13 October 2017, 07:05 | Sandy Nunez

Jose Altuve's 3-HR Game Gives Astros 1-0 2017 ALDS Lead vs. Red Sox

Astros starting Keuchel in Game 1, Verlander in Game 2 the best team in baseball. They also will hand a series lead to ace Justin Verlander in Game 2. Los Angeles seemingly flipped a switch at the end of the season and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS with no problem. Indeed, the Yankees are a better-than-usual Wild Card team by most measures. The Yankees are hardly a one-man band, but they will have a hard time advancing if Houston is able to keep Judge from leaving the yard.

Will that translate to a championship? "So getting the lead is always important in the playoffs", Hinch said.

Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer held the Cubs hitless for 6 1/3 innings before surrendering a double to Ben Zobrist in the seventh. The Astros took five of those matchups, including a comeback victory at home on July 1.

Jose Altuve smashed three home runs and propelled the Houston Astros to an 8-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park. The Astros led all of baseball with 896 runs, and their hitting has remained hot in the postseason with a.333 team batting average.

Game 7 @ Houston, Saturday, Oct. 21, Time TBD. Keuchel is 4-2 with a 1.41 ERA in six career starts against the Bombers - and that doesn't include the lefty's six scoreless innings in the 2015 wild-card playoff game at Yankee Stadium, a start that he calls "one of the most magical times that I'll have in my career". Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton both struggled in their ALDS starts.

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Game 3, at NY. "I mean, especially now seeing me and Bregman having so much success they are going to be more blocks of scouts going down there to find some talent", said Giles.

This is somewhat surprising as McHugh was left off the team's ALDS roster.

These pitchers will face two of the best hitters in the majors in Houston's Jose Altuve and NY rookie Aaron Judge. They knocked around the eventual AL Cy Young victor twice, homering 10 times in the series. "And there's a lot of times that he really gets on a roll and he puts a bunch of them together and we're going to need a good one from him tomorrow".

NY has the weakest rotation of the four remaining teams. They won that too. He's 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA in the postseason. The likes of David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman can shorten games unlike any other bullpen. He's only reached the World Series once.

"For that win in the wild-card game, it wasn't just special for me and the validation, it was special for everybody to go into NY and play that well", he said. But the arrow is pointing upward for both franchises, which are here in large part because of a core of young players that is controllable for the next few seasons. Reigning MVP Kris Bryant hit.325, and Anthony Rizzo totaled 53 RBI and a.906 OPS. The Astros hit.333 with a.974 OPS against Boston, slamming eight homers and scoring 24 runs. That lineup did damage against the Dodgers a year ago, and it could do it again. The question is whether or not they can have repeat performances during a season in which just about the entire staff had a down year.

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