Astros Hammer White Sox, Take 2-0 Lead in ALDS: Four Thoughts

Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa embrace after winning Game 2.
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa embrace after winning Game 2. Photo by Jack Gorman
After a slow start, the Astros found their footing and crushed the White Sox 9-2 to take a two-game lead in the best-of-five ALDS. The teams head to Chicago for Game 3 on Sunday. Starter Framber Valdez only made it four-and-a-third innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.

It took until the fifth inning for the Astros to even the score 4-4, but it was a seventh inning explosion of five runs that put the game out of reach. Chicago is on the ropes and the Astros would do well to take care of business in on Sunday.

Defense wins championships.

As color commentator Buck Showalter said about 50 times during the broadcast, the Astros defense prevented a number of White Sox runs from scoring, including brilliant defensive plays by Jose Altuve in the sixth and the eighth. It should come as little surprise to those who follow Houston baseball given the fact that they were at the top of the defensive rankings all season long. But, anyone who didn't know figured it out on Friday.

But so does offense.

Speaking of the top of the rankings, the Astros were the best offensive team in baseball this year. As a result, they are rarely out of games even down 4-2 and facing one of the best bullpens in the AL. Kyle Tucker's two-run blast put a lid on their five-run seventh and the White Sox. That's 15 runs in two games against arguably the best staff in the American League. The orange train just keeps rolling.

After Framber Valdez, Astros pitching was outstanding.

Valdez struggled through his four innings-plus, but the combination of great defense and stellar pitching from the pen kept them in the game long enough for the offense to go off. After Valdez's exit, Astros relievers gave up no runs on just four hits with five strikeouts and just one walk over four-and-two-thirds innings. Over that same stretch, the White Sox bullpen gave up five runs on seven hits.

The Astros must drive other teams crazy.

Clearly, there is no more hated team in baseball than your Houston Astros. But, beyond the 2017 sign stealing scandal, this team must absolutely make other teams and their fans nuts with their relentlessness. They make very few mistakes and seem to come up with big play after big play right when the team needs it. They are an absolute heartbreaker of an organization, which must be galling to the haters, while those of us in Houston soak in the hate and love every minute of it.
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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