Be Careful What You Wish For
Astros finish off the A’s to advance to their fourth consecutive ALCS
Brian Barefield | 10/9/2020, 11:42 a.m.
There is no secret that there has been plenty of bad blood between the Houston Astros and the Oakland A’s this season. By now everyone knows about A’s pitcher Mike Fiers blowing the whistle on the 2017 cheating scandal. Fans are also well aware about the small kerfuffle that occurred earlier this season in Oakland between A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano and Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron that caused both dugouts and bullpens to clear. Both Laureano and Cintron would end up facing disciplinary measures from the MLB.
Most would think that would be enough fuel for each team heading into the playoffs. Yet, one player took it upon himself to fan the flames before the end of the regular season that quickly made its way through the Astros clubhouse.
A’s closer Liam Hendriks had some very interesting things to say to the media before the playoff seedings were set.
“As a vindictive kind of thing, we want to take out the [Houston] Astros, but I don’t care who we play as long as we beat them, that’s our biggest goal,” Hendriks said.
And why not make that statement with confidence if your team had beaten the Astros seven out of the ten times, they faced them. You can stand tall and scream loudly how good you are if the team that is in second place finished the season seven games behind you with a below .500 record at 29-31. Who wouldn’t call that team out and hope to play them for an easy path through the postseason?
Well as a child I was always taught to be careful what I wished for and it seems that no one pulled Hendriks to the side to pass that type of knowledge to him. He got his wish and on Thursday he watched it vanish right before his eyes as the Houston Astros (3-1) defeated the Oakland A’s (1-3) by a score of 11-6 to win the ALDS 3-1 and advance to their fourth consecutive American League Championship Series.
“It’s been a long tough road, but we are halfway there,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker after the game. “I am thankful and happy, but I still got some happiness left to give.”
This series had a lot of “Bang” (no pun intended) as the Astros and A’s combined for 24 homeruns which set an all-time Division Series record that was previously held by the New York Yankees and Seattle Mariners back in 1995. Both clubs hit 12 homeruns apiece in the ALDS which was also a new record for most home runs by one team.
The Astros trailed by three runs after the aforementioned Laureano blasted a homer to left-center field off of starting pitcher Zack Greinke who only lasted 4 2/3 innings after giving up four runs. That lead stood until the bottom of the fourth inning when the “Big Bats” for Houston got hot.
After Jose Altuve drew a walk, Michael Brantley hit a home run on a 3-1 pitch off of A’s starter Frankie Montas to cut the lead to one with no outs. Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker got on base with two singles and Carlos Correa who took this series very personal because of all of the negative chatter amongst the media and players due to the scandal sent a scorching 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give Houston their first lead of the game at 5-3.
Houston would strike again in the fifth inning when Brantley sent another pitch to right field for a solo home run and after Bregman and Tucker reached base again, Correa did what he has done this whole series by driving in another run with an RBI single.
"We're motivated because we want to win and we want to bring another championship to the city of Houston," Correa said after the game. "We know what it feels like and we want to have that feeling again."
One player that is having happy feelings again is the aforementioned Altuve. He finished the season with his lowest batting average in his career at .219 and was struggling through the first two postseason games against the Minnesota Twins by going hitless in seven-at-bats.
All that changed once he got back to warm weather in LA as he finished the ALDS batting .400 with five RBI and two homers. Combine that with some stellar defense in the field and you almost have the former 2017 A.L. MVP back to his old self.
Houston got a huge lift from relievers Blake Taylor, Cristian Javier, Enoli Paredes and Ryan Pressley as they shut down Oakland’s hitters from the sixth to the ninth inning when the A’s scored two runs.
“It had been almost two weeks for me since I had thrown that many pitches in a game,” said Javier who recorded the win after throwing 43 pitches in 2 ½ innings.
Now Houston will await the winner of the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays series as they prepare to head to San Diego for the ALCS. That series will begin on Sunday Oct. 11 at Petco Park.