By Connor Lambert, Staff Writer
After a scandalous off-season, the Houston Astros made it to the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Despite injuries across the whole team, losing star pitcher Gerrit Cole in the offseason and finishing the regular season with a losing record of 29-31, the Astros made it to the ALCS.
After getting healthy and getting going in the playoffs, Astros shortstop, Carlos Correa talks about the usual difficulties of a full season. “when you play 162, you usually have one or two bad months, and then you recover with the three or four more that are solid,” he said. After the shortened season and making it this far, Correa mentions how right we’reis equivalent to going on a hot streak in the middle of the season. “Right now, we’re in the third month of the season, and we’re getting hot at the plate.”
This past offseason was all about the Houston Astros cheating scandal and the ramifications it has had on all of baseball ever since the 2017 MLB season. The Astros fired general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for their involvement in the scandal, and they were both suspended for one year. Other punishments towards the Astros include getting fined $5 million, losing their first and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021. Also fired amidst the scandal was Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the bench coach during the time of the Astros cheating scandal when he was also suspected of stealing signs as the Red Sox manager in 2018.
In spring training, when the MLB season was getting underway, the spotlight was still on the Astros and how fans, teams and more would react once the regular season started. Once the coronavirus pandemic hit and closed down the season, the spotlight turned elsewhere for a moment. Once they came back for the shortened regular season, they had a lot to prove to those rooting against them. It wouldn’t come easy as the Astros had to deal with injuries to multiple players throughout the season, including closer Roberto Osuna, starter Justin Verlander, DH Yordan Alvarez, 2nd baseman Jose Altuve, 3rd baseman Alex Bregman, and outfielder Michael Brantley. Even after these injuries and the regular season’s mediocre results, the Astros came into the playoffs as the sixth seed with an eye on another trip to the world series.
Going into the wild card round of the playoffs, the Astros swept the Minnesota Twins 2-0 in a best of three series as the bats started to come alive. Next, in the division series, the Astros defeated the rival Oakland Athletics 3-1 in a best of five series as each game saw both teams exchanging home runs one after another. After the big division series win, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa praised the Astros’ bullpen for the team’s success.
“Our bullpen did such a great job keeping us in games, I think they are the reason why we won the series,” he said. After all, they had been through, and the adversity they faced, the Houston Astros, to many Yankees fans disliking, were in the American League championship series once again.
Despite having so much momentum going into the series, the Astros didn’t fare as well against the Tampa Bay Rays, losing the first three games to be down 3-0 with some critical errors by 2nd baseman Jose Altuve. With their backs against the wall, the Astros wouldn’t back down as star Carlos Correa helped lead the team back after three straight wins to force a game seven. In a decisive game seven, Rays ace Charlie Morton was lights out, allowing only two hits in 5.2 innings and six strikeouts. ALCS MVP Randy Arozarena hit another home run to end the Astros playoff run and lead the Rays to the World Series for the first time since 2008. The Rays won’t have it easy, though, as they will be taking on the National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
Ryan Kaim, a freshman adolescent education major and big Mets fan, details his thoughts on how the playoffs are going so far. “Both championship series were intense with both games going into game seven it gave every baseball fan something they wanted to see, as many intense games played as possible,” he said.
Fans are eager to see how this series of the two top-seeded teams play out. “Despite wanting the Rays to win, I ultimately feel that the Dodgers are stacked, and their bats will ultimately outdo the Rays great pitching staff,” Kaim said. “Along with the Dodgers solid pitching staff of Walker Buehler and relief arms like Blake Treinen, who will hold the Rays at bay. I predict the Dodgers in six games.” With an exciting series on the way, baseball fans have more to look forward to before the season comes to a close.