The Houston Astros won 101 baseball games during the regular season. That doesn’t happen without versatility. It doesn’t happen without a diverse portfolio of skill and determination.
Sure, the Astros sport the deepest and most fearsome lineup in the majors. They led all 30 teams in runs, average, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS while being the most difficult to strike out. But even when the bats are silent on a given night, Houston will find a way to win.
It’s what good teams do more often than not and great teams do with ease. It’s not always easy. It’s not supposed to be.
Friday night was a perfect example. New York’s Masahiro Tanaka and Chad Green tamed the Astros’ potent hitters, allowing only six hits. It didn’t matter. Houston clawed its way to a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the ALCS.
Obviously, ace Dallas Keuchel was brilliant, twirling seven shutout innings and striking out 10. Closer Ken Giles came on for the high-pressure save, fanning four more. Those eye-popping numbers speak for themselves. The winning grit was a bit more subtle.
The Astros’ two-run fourth inning was a study in A-B-C baseball. MVP favorite Jose Altuve rapped a one-out single before stealing second base and coming home to score on a Carlos Correa knock. Correa later scored on Yuli Gurriel’s single up the middle. Three little pokes and aggressive baserunning got the job done.
Altuve also shined with his glove, making a diving play up the middle. His teammate Marwin Gonzalez provided the most important moment in the win by throwing out Greg Bird at home plate in the fifth. Gonzalez, who has played all over the diamond and is a study in that aforementioned versatility, fielded an Aaron Judge single and gunned a 97 mph strike toward home.
The Astros did the little things and found a way to win and take hold of the series — on a night their bats were silent. It’s what they do.