Sean Pendergast

Astros' Postseason on the Brink After 3-2 Loss To Braves: Four Thoughts

Jose Altuve and the Astros are in a must win situation now after Game 4.
Jose Altuve and the Astros are in a must win situation now after Game 4. Photo by Jack Gorman
When you make it to the League Championship Series in five straight postseasons, you face all sorts of different scenarios in keeping your season alive, whether it's in the LCS round, or in the World Series. Now, for only the second time in their recent run of dominance and for the first time in the World Seres, the Houston Astros are staring at a 3-1 deficit.

The goal for Sunday night will be simple — win a game and bring it back to Houston for Games 6 and 7, and hope for the best, but for now, the Astros got into this situation because they were deficient in certain areas where we'd come to expect success. Here are four thoughts on Saturday night's 3-2  Braves win over the Astros:

The Astros missed out early in Game 4
The Astros came into Saturday night down 2-1 in the series, but feeling pretty good about where they were situationally, given the fact that the Braves were on the cusp of bullpen games for both Games 4 and 5. The Astros ended up knocking out Braves opener Dylan Lee after a third of an inning, which might have actually been the worst thing that could have happened to them. Kyle Wright came in and put together a performance that included the Astros leaving seven runners on base in the first three innings. The Astros had chances to blow the game open early and didn't do so.

Cristian Javier's regression to the mean was stark and painful
Dusty Baker has, by and large, done a masterful job of managing the bullpen in the 2-21 postseason. Saturday night, though, was not a great night for Big Dust. First, he brought in Brooks Raley to start the sixth inning, and ended up giving up a run, to cut the Astros' lead for 2-0 to 2-1. Then, he brought in Cristian Javier in the 7th inning, and he gave up back to back home runs for the running margin. In retrospect it would have mad much more sense for Javier to relieve Greinke in the fifth, pitch two or three innings, and hand to over to Ryne Stank and Ryan Pressly. Dusty showed his ass on Saturday night.

Alex Bregman might need to sit down
Let me be very clear about this — I think there is zero chance that Dusty Baker benches Alex Bregman, or vine moves him down in the lineup. Baker is as loyal as the day is long, and I fully expect, when lineups are announced on Sunday afternoon, that Bregman will be in the three hole. That said, Baker considering an alternate approach is totally in play, and totally reasonable. Right now, Bregman is hitting .071 for the series, with a slugging percentage also at .071. This is your THREE HOLE HITTER! The choices are simple — leave Bregman where he is, move him down in the lineup, or replace him in the lineup. To be clear, I fully expect Bregman to be in the lineup in the three hole tonight. However, if Dusy Baker decided to either move Bregman down to, say, the sixth hole, or replace him for a night with Aledmys Diaz, it wuold be totally justified  Bregman stinks right now.

Where do we go from here?
This was all supposed to be so easy. even after a Game 3 loss, the Astros were going to be facing, by and large, relievers for the Atlanta  Braves. Then, the Astros failed miserablly in early innings on Saturday, and Kyle Wright went out and gave the Braves 4.2 innings of incredible relief. Now, the Astros are fighting for their lives on Sunday night. From a matchup standpoint, the Astros couldn't be set up much better to extend the series, as they will see a wave of Braves relievers. The key here will be Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez dialing in, and giving the Astros a performance like he gave them in Game 5 of the ALCE.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast