The Houston Astros have done a lot of celebrating this week, but on Tuesday night in the Bronx, they actually got to do some of it on the field.
“It’s their second celebration in three days because they clinched a spot in the Wild Card in Arizona on Sunday – and that was by virtue of a loss,” Houston Chronicle Astros writer Evan Drellich said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was also kind of awkward because when you lose, you don’t get to celebrate on the field, so this is the first time they got to celebrate on the field.”
And celebrate they did.
The Astros beat the Yankees, 3-0, in a one-game playoff to secure a spot in the ALDS. They play the Royals in Kansas City in Game 1 on Friday.
“The feeling around the team is one of the unexpected and prove people wrong,” Drellich said. “It’s a young bunch. You could argue the youth adds a certain positive naivete that maybe act as blinders. They walk into Yankee Stadium energized, Colby Rasmus’ home run gets them on the board, loosens them up, Dallas Keuchel pitches well on short rest and Carlos Gomez, who hasn’t played in five days, homers. They add an insurance run later. It was a great all-around game. That’s the way they’re playing right now. It’s an ideal time to be hot.”
Many analysts thought the Astros were a year or two away from contending, but now that they are, who’s to say they can’t win it all this season?
“The talk going into the year was about getting to .500,” Drellich said. “Jim Crane, the owner, had put forth the idea of getting in the playoffs, but that really was looked at as pie in the sky. It wasn’t looked at as impossible, but it certainly wasn’t a likelihood. And in the end, it ended up being something they did only by scratching and clawing and kind of just barely getting into the second Wild Card spot. But these opportunities aren’t there every year. To think that next year only gets better, maybe that’s true and sometimes it plays out like that. But Dallas Keuchel might (win the) Cy Young, Carlos Correa has been fantastic. I think the notion of ‘Why not now?’ is fair.”
That said, the Astros have some holes.
“We’ll see now in the (ALDS) how the starting pitching holds up,” Drellich said. “They’re only going to get one start from Keuchel and it’ll be the third game if my math holds up properly there. We’ll see if Mike Fiers can do it, see if Collin McHugh can do it in Game 1, see if the offense can kind of keep it up.”
They’ll have to keep it up against the best team in the American League, a team that last year came within one run of a World Series championship.
“You’re playing a team that’s been through it,” Drellich said. “If the Royals were Cinderella last year, I guess the Astros are Cinderella this year, but we’ll see, right?”