No one wants to think it, let alone say it, but the truth is being told anyway. In annihilating the Indians 11-3 Monday at Progressive Field in Cleveland, the Houston Astros demonstrated something that TBS, FS1 and every other network can no longer deny, try as they may: the evening teams may be getting all the attention, but the matinees are where you’ll find true excellence in baseball.
On three afternoons over the past week, the Astros didn’t just demonstrate what it means to be a pitching-hitting-fielding juggernaut. They didn’t just prove that the 2017 Astros had nothing on the 2018 Astros. They made a persuasive case for the uncanny, historic specialness of this team. There were moments yesterday when you simply had to stop and marvel at our ’Stros. And with any luck, there’ll be lots more moments just like them in the days ahead.
No team owns an eighth inning, arguably, like Houston. But even longtime fans were likely shaking their heads in disbelief at Monday’s six-run fusillade. The Indians fans certainly were. And Monday’s eighth was just part of a devastating onslaught that saw the Astros score an eye-popping 10 runs in the final three innings, even as they executed the team’s first postseason sweep in franchise history. Home run records fell (courtesy George Springer), a struggling superstar regained his footing (Carlos Correa), a middle-order standby staked his own claim to stardom (Marwin Gonzalez) and another cemented his (Alex Bregman).
The post-game pandemonium, as Houston celebrated its second straight return to the American League Championship Series, was rather dignified by comparison to last year’s. That was to be expected, as the ’Stros are no longer last year’s ragtag group of scrappy upstarts but an imposing squad both formidable and ferocious, one that most of the greatest teams in baseball history would face with trepidation.
“They beat us in every area of the game,” said Trevor Bauer, the Indians reliever whose fielding errors helped hasten his team’s demise. “You gotta have talent,” chimed in the Indians’ skipper, Terry Francona, offering his own explanation for Houston’s phenoms, “but when you have talent and you play the game the right way….so that’s why they have a lot of ways to come at you.”
The Indians are not one of baseball’s all-time greatest teams, but they have often shown a surprising grit when it mattered. Not this week, though. This week, the Indians were relegated to bit player status in a matinee full of idols, one that will soon at last be visible in primetime for the world to see.
The American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and either the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees will begin on October 13 at Minute Maid Park (if the Yankees are the opponents) or Fenway Park (the Sox), and will be televised by TBS. Start time not yet announced.