Astros on the Brink, Down 0-3: Four Thoughts

Michael Brantley accounted for one of the Astros two home runs in game three.
Michael Brantley accounted for one of the Astros two home runs in game three. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Astros came within one game of heading home for the offseason after losing to the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 Tuesday night in San Diego. It was yet another frustrating game with unforced errors and difficulty putting runs on the board. Their two runs came on solo home runs from Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley, but a five-run fifth inning from the Rays doused any hopes Houston had of getting back into this series.

Game 4 is Wednesday with a chance for the Rays to complete the sweep and head to the World Series. Here are some thoughts.

Altuve has the yips.

The Astros second baseman has three errors in the postseason, two of which have been devastating. In Game 3, another errant throw resulted in the five-run rally that buried the 'Stros. It's arguable that two games have been lost with Altuve's miscues. No one will be as miserable about it as he will, but it's yet another confounding element of this frustrating series.

Getting runners across the plate remains mystifying. 4-22 stranding 29.

The Astros are 4-24 with runners in scoring position in the ALDS stranding 31. They have managed to get plenty of hits in this series. They just haven't been able to put any runs on the board. It wasn't any different on Tuesday night when the Astros loaded the bases in the eighth inning with only one out and stranded everyone. Just brutal.

Enoli Paredes comes back to earth.

In that big fifth inning, it was Altuve's error that got it started, but Paredes hit two batters and gave up three runs, all earned, while only getting through a third of an inning. The young pitcher has been lights out throughout the postseason, but like so many youngsters, he came crashing back to earth in Game 3 of the ALCS.

The Rays defense has been astonishingly good.

There were multiple instances in Game 3 when runs were wiped off the board by incredible defensive plays, particularly in the Rays outfield by Hunter Renfroe and Kevin Kiermaier. This is in addition to their stifling defense on the infield. If the Astros do indeed go on to lose this series, it will be the Rays defense that bears the responsibility for their success.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke