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Astros rout Indians, sweep way into ALCS

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The Indians briefly led 1-0 in Game Two of the ALDS on Saturday and they briefly led 1-0 in today’s Game 3 but, really, they were never in this series. Today the Astros bashed the Indians over the head beating them 11-3, sweeping the Division Series and punching their ticket to the ALCS.

George Springer hit two homers in this one. Postseason homers are nothing new for Springer, of course. He now has 10 homers in 27 career postseason games, which works out to a 60 home pace in the regular season. That’s nearly double his actual regular season rate. The guy just rises to the occasion.

Not rising to the occasion was Trevor Bauer, who had something of a meltdown in the seventh inning, which changed the course of what was, until then, a tight game.

With Cleveland leading 2-1 thanks to a sac fly and a Francisco Lindor homer, Tony Kemp led the frame off with a single. He then made it to second base when Bauer threw the ball away while throwing over to first. Springer then reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners and then Kemp came home on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at two.

Bauer once again shot himself in the foot when the next batter up, Alex Bregman, grounded back to the mound. Bauer tried to turn a double play that would’ve ended the inning, but his throw to Francisco Lindor at second was wide of the bag, preventing Lindor from getting the out at second. Lindor’s relay throw to first was late, leaving runners safe at first and second. Bauer, who by this point was visibly angry and rattled, then walked Yuli Gurriel to load the bases. Marwin Gonzalez came up next and looped a double into the left field corner to score two:

I have no idea how he did anything with a pitch so far upstairs, but he did. In any event, that knocked Bauer out of the game. It would take two more Indians pitchers — Andrew Miller and Cody Allen — to retire the final two Houston hitters, with no more damage being done.

At least until the next inning.

After a leadoff Tony Kemp strikeout, Springer hit his second dinger of the ballgame, after which the wheels completely fell off the Indians Express. It went like this:

  • Jose Altuve doubled;
  • Alex Bregman was intentionally walked;
  • A wild pitch sent Bregman and Altuve to second and third;
  • Yuli Gurriel was intentionally walked;
  • Marwin Gonzalez singled to center to score Altuve;
  • Evan Gattis struck out;
  • A Brad Hand wild pitch scored Bregman; and then . . .

Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer. The Indians were already dead before that homer, but it made the score 10-2 and served to drag their corpse down Carnegie Avenue. They’d score another run in the ninth on an Alex Bregman RBI single, and the Indians would score one in the ninth, but by then it was mere details.

With that Houston swept the series 3-0 and will now move on to the ALCS to face the winner of the Yankees-Red Sox series.

The loss ends the Indians season. It also ends the Chief Wahoo Era for the Indians, as they will not wear the logo on the field starting next season. Seeing as though they wore it today and got absolutely embarrassed, Indians fans should be pretty happy to see it go.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”