The Houston Astros won a World Series in 2017 and that was before they traded for Gerrit Cole. Just how good are the Astros with Cole? We saw it in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, as the Astros took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-1 win.
Cole turned in the most dominant start we’ve seen so far this postseason — striking out 12 Indians batters, popping as high as 100 mph on the radar gun and getting deep enough into the game that the Astros offense could overcome his lone mistake.
Francisco Lindor took Cole deep for a solo homer in the third inning, but a 1-0 lead wasn’t enough to beat the Astros and Cole wasn’t giving up anything else. Houston went ahead when Marwin González delivered a two-run double in the sixth and added some insurance when Alex Bregman hit a solo homer in the seventh.
Now, the Indians have their backs against the wall as the series shifts back to Cleveland.
As they so quickly can, the Astros put the pressure on the Indians in the sixth inning, getting to starter Carlos Carrasco and then ace reliever Andrew Miller, whose 2018 struggles came into focus in Game 2.
The inning started with Jose Altuve reaching on an infield single and Alex Bregman working a walk. Yuli Gurriel hit a sharp liner to left for the first out, which is when Indians manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen. Marwin González was the first batter to face Miller and it wasn’t exactly Miller Time, Circa 2016:
Altuve scored easily from second base, but Bregman chugged around to score from first base just before the throw to the plate. If Melky Cabrera hadn’t misplayed the ball in right field, the outcome might have been different.
What made the difference in ALDS Game 2
The Astros decision to trade for Gerrit Cole looks even more brilliant after Game 2, if that’s possible. Cole was spectacular for Houston, proving on an even bigger stage how he’s finally delivered on his potential now that he’s in Houston.
Cole surrendered only three hits and the one run. The rest of the time, he was blowing away Indians batters. Edwin Encarnacion, José Ramírez, Josh Donaldson and Jason Kipnis each struck out twice against Cole.
Part of it was that Cole was getting a lot of whiffs. His 23 swinging strikes tied a season-high and he threw 13 first-pitch strikes. With all that, Cole joined some pretty good company in Astros history:
Most strikeouts by an Astros pitcher in a postseason game
Mike Scott – 14 in Game 1 of the 1986 NLCS
Justin Verlander – 13 in Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS
Nolan Ryan – 12 in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS
Gerrit Cole – 12 in Game 2 of the 2018 ALDS
— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) October 6, 2018
What’s next for Indians and Astros
The series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 on Monday as the Indians look to stay alive. The Indians will call on Mike Clevinger to save their season. He was 13-8 with a 3.02 ERA in the regular season. Even though Clevinger pitched in the postseason for the Indians in 2016 and 2017, this will be his first playoff start.
The Astros counter with Dallas Keuchel, the former Cy Young winner who was their ace until Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole came to town. Keuchel was 12-11 this season with a 3.74 ERA. For his career, Keuchel is 4-2 with a 3.58 ERA.
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