Power Hitting Houston Takes On Yankees In Wild-Card Game


Three Day Rest Period Could Affect The Beard

By John Ventola

Tonight, Houston will depend on Dallas, big time.

It does not happen often, but when it does something large is generally at stake. Texas style!  Nothing will be exchanged between the two Texas metropolises. Neither one of


Lefthander Dallas Keuchel And Power Bats Lead Astros

the cities will have their infrastructure changed in any way. However, Houston will trot out their 20-game winner Dallas Kuechel to face the New York Yankees in the American League wild-card matchup tonight at Yankees Stadium.

Keuchel, “The Beard”,  who has shut down the Yankees on two occasions this season (route going shutout in Houston on June 25th, and seven innings of shutout ball in New York on August 25th), will be pitching with only three days rest for the first time this season. An Astros victory will advance the team into a five-game series against AL Central Division winner Kansas City.

New York, playing in their first playoff since 2012, will counter with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, a righthander who fashioned a 12-7 record for the Yankees. New York manager Joe Girardi hopes Tanaka can cool down a potent Astros batting attack that revolves around home runs. Eleven Astros players have hit over 10 home runs this season, two more hit nine homers.

Keuchel keeps his pitches low, and changes speeds effectively. Girardi will pack his lineup with righthand hitters to try and get to Keuchel early, but will need some production from the lefties he does use. Lefthand hitting veterans Jacoby Ellsbury and


Keuchel Will Go To Same Formula As Last Two Yankees Stints

Brett Gardner have been in recent slumps, while Alex Rodriquez’s production has also tapered off of late. First baseman Mark Teixeira is out with an injury, and the entire lineup has slumped since late August. Keuchel will have to be careful with switch-hitter Carlos Beltran who has a history of solid performances in postseason play. Rodriquez is always dangerous. He hit 33 home runs in his comeback to baseball this season.

The Astros raced out to an early lead in the AL West Division by using the outstanding pitching of Keuchel and Collin McHugh, and long-ball hitting. The call up of rookie shortstop Carlos Correa early in the season stabilized the infield and gave the team another hitting threat. (Correa set a rookie shortstop record with 22 home runs and was magnificent in the field). Using an unusual baseball approach, the Astros depended almost exclusively on timely power hitting for most of their victories. Tonight’s action marks the franchise’s first appearance in postseason play since 2005.

This blogger posted in early July that it was highly improbable that Houston could keep up their winning ways with two dominant starting pitchers and a heavy reliance on the home run. Keuchel and McHugh were consistent throughout the season, Keuchel


Hinch Managing Job Compensated For Lack Of Depth In Pitching

winning 20 games in 33 starts, and McHugh 19 in 32 starts. Astros manager A.J. Hinch did a masterful job of patching together enough pitching to edge the Angels by one game for the final wild card spot.

The home runs bats kept connecting, Evan Gattis (27), Colby Rasmus (25), Luis Valbuena (25), Chris Carter (24), Correa (22), George Springer (16), Jose Altuve (15), Preston Tucker (13), Marwin Gonzalez (12), Jason Castro (11), Hank Conger (11), Jake Marisnick (9), and Jed Lowrie (9).

Only one player, Altuve, hit over .300 for the season. The diminutive second baseman had 200 hits for the second consecutive season, and formed an outstanding double-play combo with Correa.

Tonight’s game should be interesting. Old power against an up-and comer. Present day power bats against power bats of yesteryear. While this time of year usually lends itself to a “New York State of Mind”, this blogger is hoping Houston does, indeed, get some help from Dallas tonight.

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