ALCS 2021: Red Sox vs. Astros Discussion Thread

BaseballJones

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Updated playoff numbers (including last night):

Schwarber: 8 r, 3 hr, 6 rbi, .281/.361/.594/.955
Kiké: 9 r, 5 hr, 9 rbi, .500/.513/1.028/1.541
Devers: 9 r, 4 hr, 11 rbi, .303/.410/.667/1.077
Bogaerts: 6 r, 2 hr, 4 rbi, .303/.395/.515/.910
Verdugo: 5 r, 1 hr, 6 rbi, .353/.405/.529/.935
Martinez: 4 r, 3 hr, 10 rbi, .423/.464/.846/1.310
- - -
Renfroe: 4 r, 1 hr, 5 rbi, .241/.353/.310/.663
Vazquez: 5 r, 1 hr, 6 rbi, .320/.320/.440/.760
Arroyo: 4 r, 1 hr, 3 rbi, .267/.267/.400/.667

So the bottom three obviously haven't done the kind of damage that the top six have. But even the bottom three have contributed significantly, either with offense or defense (or both). None of them have been black holes, that's for sure. So far, just an unbelievable offensive performance in the playoffs. They've averaged 7.1 runs a game, and in their victories, they've averaged 8.8 runs a game.
 

SouthernBoSox

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The line up is just incredible right now.

We’ve got a guy who had basically a 30/100/.815OPS season hitting 7th, and it’s an accurate reflection of current talent and production level.

Hernandez and Verdugo’s approach seem much more engaged. Really grinding things out.

For some reason, we forgot JDM is one of the best right handed bats of the past decade.

It is a joy to watch.
 

StuckOnYouk

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I’d imagine they will use Javier, Graveman, and Pressly for 5 or 6 innings tonight if need be. I don’t think we will have a big window of facing a crap pitcher so we have to maximize the exposure to one…and pitch well on our end.
 

Yo La Tengo

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Love to see how far the Sox have gotten in to the Astros' heads. Here is their pitching coach, suggesting that every pitcher on the Astros could be tipping his pitches?

“This is a very good hitting team, and they’re very adept at picking up little things, much more so than most teams,” Strom said. “We need to be very cognizant of the little things, tipping-type things, things like that, that they’re very astute at. We’ve just gotten behind hitters. We have to re-evaluate and see if they’re seeing things that are maybe tipping the scales a little bit in their favor. These are veteran (hitters). And of course, they have the ultimate guy (Alex Cora) as their manager, who … he’s just very good at it. We just have to do a better job of watching what our pitchers do and getting ahead in the count.”
 

BaseballJones

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Tonight is huge, especially since they're starting Pivetta. I'm very very unsure of Sale tomorrow, and using Pivetta tonight eliminates him for tomorrow. I don't consider tomorrow a lost cause, but unless the Sox keep bashing (which is possible), I think that tomorrow will be a struggle. So tonight is enormous. So the key question is: if Pivetta struggles, or just has a high pitch count and can't go too deep, who's next? Houck? He's been shaky lately. His last three outings, he's allowed a homer in each.

Last two outings:

vs. TB: 1.0 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 k
vs. Hou: 1.0 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 k

So suddenly the dominant Houck seems to have found some shaky ground. But I imagine he's still the first guy out of the pen tonight in the middle innings.

Which is fine.

Except that it leaves tomorrow a little up in the air, since probably at BEST Sale will give them, what, 4-5 innings? That's best-case scenario. I guess Perez can be the long guy tomorrow since he only pitched an inning yesterday.

I know Cora goes for the throat and tends to go for the game today but he still needs to at least think about tomorrow.
 

joe dokes

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Tonight is huge, especially since they're starting Pivetta. I'm very very unsure of Sale tomorrow, and using Pivetta tonight eliminates him for tomorrow. I don't consider tomorrow a lost cause, but unless the Sox keep bashing (which is possible), I think that tomorrow will be a struggle. So tonight is enormous. So the key question is: if Pivetta struggles, or just has a high pitch count and can't go too deep, who's next? Houck? He's been shaky lately. His last three outings, he's allowed a homer in each.

Last two outings:

vs. TB: 1.0 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 k
vs. Hou: 1.0 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 k

So suddenly the dominant Houck seems to have found some shaky ground. But I imagine he's still the first guy out of the pen tonight in the middle innings.

Which is fine.

Except that it leaves tomorrow a little up in the air, since probably at BEST Sale will give them, what, 4-5 innings? That's best-case scenario. I guess Perez can be the long guy tomorrow since he only pitched an inning yesterday.

I know Cora goes for the throat and tends to go for the game today but he still needs to at least think about tomorrow.
The way things have gone, pivetta gets rocked, panic ensues and then Sale throws 6 shutout innings in a game 5 romp.
 

JimD

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Tonight is huge, especially since they're starting Pivetta. I'm very very unsure of Sale tomorrow, and using Pivetta tonight eliminates him for tomorrow. I don't consider tomorrow a lost cause, but unless the Sox keep bashing (which is possible), I think that tomorrow will be a struggle. So tonight is enormous. So the key question is: if Pivetta struggles, or just has a high pitch count and can't go too deep, who's next? Houck? He's been shaky lately. His last three outings, he's allowed a homer in each.

Last two outings:

vs. TB: 1.0 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 k
vs. Hou: 1.0 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 k

So suddenly the dominant Houck seems to have found some shaky ground. But I imagine he's still the first guy out of the pen tonight in the middle innings.

Which is fine.

Except that it leaves tomorrow a little up in the air, since probably at BEST Sale will give them, what, 4-5 innings? That's best-case scenario. I guess Perez can be the long guy tomorrow since he only pitched an inning yesterday.

I know Cora goes for the throat and tends to go for the game today but he still needs to at least think about tomorrow.
I have to think that Eovaldi is available tonight for a high-leverage inning or two if necessary.
 

BaseballJones

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I have to think that Eovaldi is available tonight for a high-leverage inning or two if necessary.
Yes he probably is, per Cora's pitching usage pattern in the playoffs. I mean, tonight isn't the concern. They have plenty of high-leverage arms available tonight: Pivetta, then Houck, Whitlock, Robles, Taylor, Brasier, Eovaldi. All are totally good to go.
 

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Tonight is huge, especially since they're starting Pivetta. I'm very very unsure of Sale tomorrow, and using Pivetta tonight eliminates him for tomorrow. I don't consider tomorrow a lost cause, but unless the Sox keep bashing (which is possible), I think that tomorrow will be a struggle. So tonight is enormous. So the key question is: if Pivetta struggles, or just has a high pitch count and can't go too deep, who's next? Houck? He's been shaky lately. His last three outings, he's allowed a homer in each.

Last two outings:

vs. TB: 1.0 ip, 1 h, 1 r, 1 er, 0 bb, 1 k
vs. Hou: 1.0 ip, 2 h, 2 r, 2 er, 0 bb, 1 k

So suddenly the dominant Houck seems to have found some shaky ground. But I imagine he's still the first guy out of the pen tonight in the middle innings.

Which is fine.

Except that it leaves tomorrow a little up in the air, since probably at BEST Sale will give them, what, 4-5 innings? That's best-case scenario. I guess Perez can be the long guy tomorrow since he only pitched an inning yesterday.

I know Cora goes for the throat and tends to go for the game today but he still needs to at least think about tomorrow.
Houston has to be looking at tonight as a must win, and if they pull it off, all the pressure suddenly shifts to the Sox tomorrow. I think Cora pushes all the chips in tonight, and Eovaldi is 100% available for an inning or two unless he'll be starting tomorrow on short rest.
 

RedOctober3829

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Yes he probably is, per Cora's pitching usage pattern in the playoffs. I mean, tonight isn't the concern. They have plenty of high-leverage arms available tonight: Pivetta, then Houck, Whitlock, Robles, Taylor, Brasier, Eovaldi. All are totally good to go.
Yes, the pitching advantage is so far and away to the Red Sox at this point. Key phrase is at this point. I respect Houston's lineup way too much to just go ahead and get cocky about this. Pivetta has to bring it tonight and give them at least 4-5 innings of good, quality baseball.
 

m0ckduck

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The line up is just incredible right now.

We’ve got a guy who had basically a 30/100/.815OPS season hitting 7th, and it’s an accurate reflection of current talent and production level.

Hernandez and Verdugo’s approach seem much more engaged. Really grinding things out.

For some reason, we forgot JDM is one of the best right handed bats of the past decade.

It is a joy to watch.
It’s starting to feel very 2003-ish with this team. Other than the manager, where thankfully the parallels abruptly end.
 

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I have to think that Eovaldi is available tonight for a high-leverage inning or two if necessary.
I don't think so. They may not have shown it on TV, but he was doing some work with his sweatshirt on in the pen for the last couple innings of the game. They must have decided to let him do his throwing in between starts there and not to use him for the next two games.
 

Time to Mo Vaughn

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I don't think I've ever felt so good about a 2-1 series lead. I'm walking around feeling like we're up 3-0 yet by midnight this series could be tied with home field flipped back to Houston.

It comes down to a few things that are probably obvious:
  • Sox pen rest and availability compared to Houston going from pitching as a strength to wondering whether position players needed to come in and pitch
  • Sox offense firing on all cylinders. You combine this with the mess of Houston pitching and it just doesn't seem like there's going to be a game where they can't put at least 4 runs together. Even the left on base numbers have not been great.
  • Dismantling of Tampa. I thought Tampa was the team to beat in the AL, so the Sox definitive win really gave me a lot more confidence going into Houston.
 

dynomite

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This reminds me of Farrell abandoning a platoon and benching Nava in the 2013 post season, starting Gomes in all games because of his "intangibles." But if these intangibles are so essential to winning, why the didn't Gomes start every game during the regular season?
One of the mystical things about baseball is the difference between the regular season and the playoffs. When you play 162 games and then all of a sudden your season comes down to a few nationally televised games, some players do seem to thrive while others wilt in ways that are inexplicable. Is it just the nature of such a small sample size? Are there some guys who get overwhelmed by the pressure? Is "momentum" a real thing?

I don't think so. They may not have shown it on TV, but he was doing some work with his sweatshirt on in the pen for the last couple innings of the game. They must have decided to let him do his throwing in between starts there and not to use him for the next two games.
I was just wondering about this, at the risk of getting ahead of ourselves: could they be tentatively hoping to use Eovaldi in Game 5 tomorrow on 3 days rest if they’re up 3-1? It would be pretty tempting to go all out to try to end the series in Boston. Obviously a ton of unknowns here.
 

yecul

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Momentum can turn quickly. I expect Boston to continue scoring runs if not grand slam level. The Astros offense is strong enough to keep pace and high scoring back and forth games can be random.

You have to like what you're seeing, up 2-1, doing so in impressive fashion, and playing at home with a better fresher pitching staff.

Either don't go back to Houston at all or go there up 3-2.
 

BaseballJones

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I want to win the next two, but I really just hope that they're up 3-2 with Eovaldi ready for game 6.
 

Heating up in the bullpen

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Scores of the Sox’ playoff games to date:
W 6-2
L 0-5
W 14-6
W 6-4
W 6-5
L 4-5
W 9-5
W 12-3
When they’ve scored 6 or more, they’ve won. They’ve won two games they’ve given up 5 runs, one each they’ve given up 4 and 6. They gave up 5 runs in each of the two losses. The pitching has been decent, not spectacular. If the offense can keep it up, that’s all they need from the pitching.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Scores of the Sox’ playoff games to date:
W 6-2
L 0-5
W 14-6
W 6-4
W 6-5
L 4-5
W 9-5
W 12-3
When they’ve scored 6 or more, they’ve won. They’ve won two games they’ve given up 5 runs, one each they’ve given up 4 and 6. They gave up 5 runs in each of the two losses. The pitching has been decent, not spectacular. If the offense can keep it up, that’s all they need from the pitching.
It's really been the story of the whole season, and what a lot of us expected back in the spring. They were 82-18 (.820) this year when scoring four or more runs. The only teams with a better win percentage in such games were the White Sox (.839 75-15), the Giants (.833 85-17), and the Dodgers (.831 84-17). To contrast, in games where they scored fewer than four runs, they were 10-52 (.161) which ranks 6th worst in baseball. The only teams worse than them were Arizona, Texas, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Detroit (by contrast, the Giants, Dodgers, Yankees, and Cardinals were the best teams when scoring fewer than four). Very telling that they're among the elite teams when they score and the very worst teams when they don't.

They will go as far as the offense can take them.
 

Pandemonium67

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Because of all the grand slams and big early leads the last two games, it feels like the Sox are cruising and unbeatable. But it's only a 2-1 lead, and an Astros win tonight sends it back to Houston. No time to get cocky or complacent -- gotta win tonight.

Fortunately, I think playoff Cora, like playoff Tito, has a go-for-the-jugular mentality. End this thing in Boston.
 

AlNipper49

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There is one key to this game, and it's just what changed last night's game from a pitcher's duel to a one-sided slugfest. Everyone needs to be taking Verdugo at bats. Greinke can't just be hit hard, he needs to be worked harder than the kid who made my iPhone. Greinke may just do us a favor and do that himself, but fortune doesn't favor those who wait for things to come to them. Everyone is feeling pretty good about last night but so were the Yanks after game 3 in 2004. If they come out there trying for good at-bats rather than trying to win the game I'd place pretty good money on Greinke allowing them to do so.
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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Because of all the grand slams and big early leads the last two games, it feels like the Sox are cruising and unbeatable. But it's only a 2-1 lead, and an Astros win tonight sends it back to Houston. No time to get cocky or complacent -- gotta win tonight.

Fortunately, I think playoff Cora, like playoff Tito, has a go-for-the-jugular mentality. End this thing in Boston.
Cora seems even more go-for-the-jugular than Tito ever was. Tito was great at that when he and the team had their backs against the wall (down 3-0 in '04, down 3-1 in '07, down 3-1 in '08). Cora manages like his back is against the wall all the time, and he's never actually had his back against the wall as a result (unless you count the final weekend + wildcard game).
 

BaseballJones

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Cora absolutely has a playoff killer instinct. But it's the players who make that work. So....it's on them to pitch, hit, run, and field well tonight.
 

joe dokes

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There is one key to this game, and it's just what changed last night's game from a pitcher's duel to a one-sided slugfest. Everyone needs to be taking Verdugo at bats. Greinke can't just be hit hard, he needs to be worked harder than the kid who made my iPhone. Greinke may just do us a favor and do that himself, but fortune doesn't favor those who wait for things to come to them. Everyone is feeling pretty good about last night but so were the Yanks after game 3 in 2004. If they come out there trying for good at-bats rather than trying to win the game I'd place pretty good money on Greinke allowing them to do so.
The appropriate axiom here is "make him throw strikes."
 

allmanbro

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Greinke is exactly the kind of guy who could unexpectedly gut out a solid outing despite his recent struggles - even short of a real gem, it would be so huge for the 'stros if he could manage a serviceable 5 IP. That's why I'll really want to see another crooked number in the first couple innings. Perhaps I am getting greedy . . .
 

RG33

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Love to see how far the Sox have gotten in to the Astros' heads. Here is their pitching coach, suggesting that every pitcher on the Astros could be tipping his pitches?

“This is a very good hitting team, and they’re very adept at picking up little things, much more so than most teams,” Strom said. “We need to be very cognizant of the little things, tipping-type things, things like that, that they’re very astute at. We’ve just gotten behind hitters. We have to re-evaluate and see if they’re seeing things that are maybe tipping the scales a little bit in their favor. These are veteran (hitters). And of course, they have the ultimate guy (Alex Cora) as their manager, who … he’s just very good at it. We just have to do a better job of watching what our pitchers do and getting ahead in the count.”
I mean, I don’t really care, but does this not feel like a not-very-sly way of accusing the Red Sox of cheating and hinting that Cora is “at it again” in a way? Projection much and all ?
 

reggiecleveland

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Within all this giddiness needs to be a word of caution, The Six tied a scoring record of the unbeatable, on a roll beyond belief 2004 Yankees.

We have a kd who pitched great in relief last time out but has been it up a few times starting tonight.

the Astros are really a good team and they just need to get through the start of the game with it close to lift the weight sitting on them now. If they score in the first they are back and up and rolling.
 

chrisfont9

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Love to see how far the Sox have gotten in to the Astros' heads. Here is their pitching coach, suggesting that every pitcher on the Astros could be tipping his pitches?

“This is a very good hitting team, and they’re very adept at picking up little things, much more so than most teams,” Strom said. “We need to be very cognizant of the little things, tipping-type things, things like that, that they’re very astute at. We’ve just gotten behind hitters. We have to re-evaluate and see if they’re seeing things that are maybe tipping the scales a little bit in their favor. These are veteran (hitters). And of course, they have the ultimate guy (Alex Cora) as their manager, who … he’s just very good at it. We just have to do a better job of watching what our pitchers do and getting ahead in the count.”
Ha! I suppose the Rays starters were tipping too? I guess that beats looking in the mirror.
 

chrisfont9

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Cora seems even more go-for-the-jugular than Tito ever was. Tito was great at that when he and the team had their backs against the wall (down 3-0 in '04, down 3-1 in '07, down 3-1 in '08). Cora manages like his back is against the wall all the time, and he's never actually had his back against the wall as a result (unless you count the final weekend + wildcard game).
It's a bit riskier, more like "hurry up and go for the jugular" because the fallback plan is... a bit thin. We are still papering over our bullpen issues. It's a bit like 2018, which worked and you had Sale covering for the teetering Kimbrel. Cora is aggressively using his best weapons before he runs out of weapons entirely. The fact that the offense keeps coming through is what makes him look like a genius.
 

cantor44

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The way things have gone, pivetta gets rocked, panic ensues and then Sale throws 6 shutout innings in a game 5 romp.
Yes, the baseball gods teach us to expect the unexpected .... Watch Greinke pitch a gem in a swan song inspired performance. Anything can happen!
 

normstalls

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Houston on the other hand, is about to go their third straight opener game. They burned tomorrow's probable starter in Odorizzi (82 pitches) while trying to salvage Game Two. They're walking a tightrope for the next four games. Everyone not named Pressly, Graveman, or Javier must be baked at this point.
Wouldn't there game 5 starter obviously be Valdez? And always planned that way I would assume.
He's a real good pitcher. Sox obviously got to him in game 1, but he has pitched them tough this season.
 

uncannymanny

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Sausage in Section 17

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Because of all the grand slams and big early leads the last two games, it feels like the Sox are cruising and unbeatable. But it's only a 2-1 lead, and an Astros win tonight sends it back to Houston. No time to get cocky or complacent -- gotta win
Not to mention, the whole tenor of that game turned on Altuve‘s inability to get an out, if not a double play on that bouncing ball hit to him. He should’ve been able to get at least one out, and if they turn 2, the inning ends at 1-0.

The Astros haven’t really hit, pitched, or played good defense yet. Just like the Red Sox, if you give them extra outs, and they start getting on a roll, things could turn around very quickly.
 

Archer1979

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Wouldn't there game 5 starter obviously be Valdez? And always planned that way I would assume.
He's a real good pitcher. Sox obviously got to him in game 1, but he has pitched them tough this season.
Yeah. Got my game numbers mixed up. It was speculated that Odorizzi would have been today's starter.
 

soxhop411

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ah. Who doesn’t love the human element in a playoff game?!!!!!

Perhaps now that baseball is embracing gambling they will take the human element out of the game. The last think they want is to piss off their gambling partners on a call that we have had technology for years to fix. Since a blown call can can have humongous implications for our “friends in the desert” as Brent Musburger used to say.
 

canderson

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Houston has a pretty large pitching advantage going into game 5 - Valdez and Garcia are fresh and I imagine Castro can throw 2 innings too.

But Boston had it going into G4 and did nothing to take advantage.
 

bosockboy

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Houston has a pretty large pitching advantage going into game 5 - Valdez and Garcia are fresh and I imagine Castro can throw 2 innings too.

But Boston had it going into G4 and did nothing to take advantage.
Valdez got ran last time. They don’t have a lot left behind him. Garcia, Stanek, they burned the rest tonight. Houck is more valuable than any one of those. I think we’re fine.
 

djbayko

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Houston has a pretty large pitching advantage going into game 5 - Valdez and Garcia are fresh and I imagine Castro can throw 2 innings too.

But Boston had it going into G4 and did nothing to take advantage.
That's why anyone who watches sports knows that we know nothing. Anything can and will happen*. Grienke didn't throw a gem, but that wasn't even necessary. Tomorrow will be fun. Buckle up and win!

* = The obvious exception to this was the 2004 WS where the Cards stood absolutely no chance.
 

Apisith

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That game hurt. But, it's now 2-2 and we have Sale and Houck going in Game 5, and Eovaldi going in Game 6. If you had asked me before the series whether I'd be happy with this, I would definitely say yes. Yes, it sucks to waste a really good Pivetta start, but it is what it is. Even though we only scored two runs, we got a lot of guys on base, but just couldn't get a big hit. I'm sure it'll come in Game 5.
 

grimshaw

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I think they're still fine. They are very unlikely to have a taxed bullpen for the remainder of the series with an off day and at least 9 pitchers available. Whitlock or Rodriguez may even be able to get a batter or two. The Stros pen is worn pretty thin again. The offense needs to keep up the patience vs Houston's starters and keep them under 5 to maintain pressure.

I really feel for Cora. he has worked things out almost perfectly, then his best guys have given up leads.
I was curious about using Perez instead of Hernandez and then realized despite being terrible, he still had a better wOBA against than Darwinzon vs lefties. He rolled the dice on getting one guy, it didn't work out and the 3 batter rule ended the game. I can't find anything to second guess.