Division Series AL3a: KC vs. HOU, AL3b: TOR vs. TEX — A Texas 2-step

Well, there is definitely going to be a Game 4 for both of the ALDS matches with both series sitting at a 2-1 standing, the leaders needing just one game to go onto the ALCS, while the losers facing a single game elimination reality. And in the end, there really could be an ALCS that flits about the state of Texas.

Game 1: ALDS 3a — Royals at Astros

Sometimes, the Royals just can’t catch a break. Sometimes, the Astros show why they’ve been a powerhouse in the standings all season long. The Astros rookie starter Keuchel continued to prove why he’s certainly on everyone’s list this year (including mine, I might add). In 7 innings, Keuchel’s 124 pitches gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 run, striking out 7 Kansas City batters. Not that the Royals’ starter Volquez was terrible. In fact, he fairly matched Keuchel in many stats, but in a compressed setting — 87 pitches through just 5.2 innings, 5 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, with a nice 8 strikeouts.

It’s been said that the Astros do hit a lot of runs, but they also strikeout a lot. But then only one of those really matter when it comes to winning games. Like they did tonight in Houston. The Royals struck first with a solo home run to lead-off the 4th inning, but that slim lead didn’t last long for the visiting Kansas City team.

In the bottom of the 5th, with 1 out and runners in scoring position, a nice single scored 2 runs for the Astros pushing them into the lead. And they didn’t look back. In the 6th, a lead-off double scored on a 2-out single for an Astros insurance run before a lead-off solo home run in the 7th added just the bit of cushion needed when the Royals hit their own lead-off solo home run in the 9th inning.

Both bullpens came up rather strong in the latter part of the game as well. It seems this may be the only part of these two teams that is actually well-matched.

Final score: 4-2 Astros, Astros leads series 2-1.

Game 2: ALDS 3b — Blue Jays at Rangers

Okay, truthfully, the Blue Jays’ starter Estrada was rather good tonight, decisive and strong from start to finish. Not that the Rangers’ starter Perez was terrible, but Estrada just really stands out when I think about tonight’s game. Estrada’s efficient 89 pitches into the 7th inning, gave up 5 hits, no walks, and just 1 run, striking out just 4 batters.

Estrada’s lone earned run came at the end of his outing, when in fact he didn’t give up the run but was instead responsible for it. He put runners in scoring position with consecutive singles and a fielding error which saw the end of his night. His reliever prompted a 3-pitch ground out to score that lone run for the Rangers before another reliever got out of the inning in 7 pitches. I should note that the 8th and 9th inning Toronto relievers were just stellar. It’s really ridiculous, this kind of pitching, but Toronto did their job on that front rather well tonight.

Texas pitchers on the other hand just couldn’t really control most of the game (until the last couple of innings, that is), and the Blue Jays just pounced. In the 3rd inning, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a single and then scored during a double play. And then in the 4th with bases loaded, the next run was walked in. And then in the 6th inning, with runners on the corners, the Rangers went to their bullpen to shut down the advancing offense. A walk promptly loaded the bases but then a nifty double play squelched the Blue Jays’ hopes temporarily. All that changed with a single swing of the bat and a 3-run home run rather clinched the win for Toronto.

Final score: 5-1 Blue Jays, Rangers lead series 2-1. {Video coming shortly.}

Follow-up from yesterday’s “incident”: tonight, MLB announced its conclusions based on the investigation into the play at 2nd made by the runner Chase Utley and the infielder Ruben Tejada at the Dodgers-Mets game last night, in which Tejada was ultimately carted off the field with a broken leg. As a result of their inquiry, baseball operations determined Utley’s slide was illegal and thus suspended for the next 2 games, Monday and Tuesday’s games at CitiField. This is probably a very good idea all around in the call for “justice” for the injury incurred and for the safety of the recently acquired Dodger in the face of such a tempered fan base.

You can read the entire statement by Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre here, which he also promises to continue to look into ways to keep the fielders safe in the course of what can be a very rough game sometimes. Utley has decided to appeal the suspension, but his actual game-playing time is yet to be determined as he is considered a bench player with the Dodgers.

Go Yankees!

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