December 4, 2023


Houston will host in-state rival Texas in Sport 1 of the ALCS on Sunday, when Justin Verlander is scheduled to make his thirty sixth profession postseason begin.

Houston Astros’ Jose Abreu reacts after a two-run house run throughout the fourth inning of Sport 4 of a baseball AL Division Sequence towards the Minnesota Twins. AP Picture/Stacy Bengs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Houston Astros gathered within the clubhouse with their bottles and goggles to toast one other postseason victory, when supervisor Dusty Baker known as Justin Verlander ahead to steer the celebration.

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“I’m doing the World Sequence!” Baker mentioned. “You do that one!”

Verlander, after a profanity-punctuated speech that had teammates roaring with laughter, began the cork-popping countdown at seven — one for every consecutive AL Championship Sequence look.

José Abreu homered for the third time in two video games, a two-run rocket within the fourth inning that launched the Astros to their seventh straight ALCS with a 3-2 win that eradicated the Minnesota Twins in Sport 4 of their Division Sequence on Wednesday night time.

“We wouldn’t be right here if it wasn’t for the bond that we now have and the relationships that we now have on this locker room, and we maintain one another accountable in a great way,” mentioned Verlander, who returned to the Astros in August through commerce from the New York Mets. “Clearly, this crew is constructed completely different. These guys are constructed completely different. When it’s time to step up, we play our greatest baseball.”

José Urquidy gave the defending World Sequence champion Astros one other stable postseason begin, withstanding house runs by Royce Lewis within the first and Edouard Julien within the sixth earlier than handing the ball to the bullpen.

Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu mixed for 5 strikeouts over 2 1/3 hitless innings. Ryan Pressly, who pitched five-plus years for the Twins earlier than a commerce to Houston in 2018, struck out the facet within the ninth for the save. He froze Max Kepler with a full-count fastball to finish it, leaving former Astros star Carlos Correa on deck.

“Oh yeah, we knew, and I used to be attempting to not have nightmares, as a result of I bear in mind when Carlos was with us he hit that ball up within the right-center area seats up there,” Baker mentioned, referring to Correa’s homer at Minnesota in a 2020 Wild Card Sequence. “However we by no means acquired to Carlos, in order that was a terrific, nice victory.”

Correa hit .409 with three doubles and 4 RBIs within the sequence.

“I wished that at-bat so unhealthy. I do know Pressly very effectively, and it might’ve been a enjoyable matchup,” Correa mentioned. “It didn’t get there, however it’s the way in which it was imagined to be.”

Houston will host in-state rival Texas in Sport 1 of the ALCS on Sunday, when Verlander is scheduled to make his thirty sixth profession postseason begin.

“They know us, and we all know them,” Baker mentioned, “and it’s going to be a heck of a sequence.”

The Astros, who’re 56-34 within the playoffs since 2017, hit 10 homers within the sequence. Abreu had eight RBIs.

“They by no means quit, they usually perceive that that is the time the place the greats must be good,” Abreu mentioned by means of an interpreter.

Urquidy, very similar to Sport 3 starter Cristian Javier, had an October observe report to depend on after a forgettable common season. The best-hander, who has logged 42 postseason innings and made his seventh begin within the playoffs, missed three months with shoulder bother this yr.

Michael Brantley acquired the Astros began with a solo shot within the second towards Twins starter Joe Ryan, who was pulled after that inning in supervisor Rocco Baldelli’s all-out try to increase the sequence.

Caleb Thielbar, the one left-hander on the roster, gave up a leadoff single within the fourth to Yordan Alvarez, a win for the Twins contemplating he had two doubles and 4 homers within the sequence. With one out, Abreu hit a 1-0 fastball to the alternative area for a 3-1 lead.

The remainder of the relievers gave the Twins some power again from the gang, notably when Chris Paddack pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings with 4 strikeouts. However the house crew simply didn’t have sufficient hits to beat all these swings and misses.

Lewis gave the Twins one other big-moment house run, a smash to left area with the same trajectory to the one he hit in his first postseason at-bat in Sport 1 of the Wild Card Sequence sweep over Toronto.

Dangerous luck price them a important additional run. Julien led off the sport with a double, however Jorge Polanco adopted with a line drive straight at Jeremy Peña that was sharp sufficient to provide the shortstop time to make a diving tag on Julien for the double play.

“We didn’t get it executed on this sequence,” Baldelli mentioned. “We acquired beat, however I couldn’t be happier with what I noticed from so a lot of our guys, and I advised them that.”

Going deep

The Astros hit 4 homers of their 9-1 win in Sport 3, even taking Sonny Grey — the runaway main league chief in fewest house runs allowed per 9 innings this yr — deep twice.

Their endurance, confidence and energy made Ryan a susceptible opponent, contemplating the right-hander was making his first profession postseason begin after permitting 24 homers over his final 14 turns. Corridor of Fame member Bert Blyleven was the one different Twins pitcher to surrender that many lengthy balls in a 14-start span.

Twins batters set the all-time report with 1,654 strikeouts this yr, a whopping 413 extra whiffs than the Astros had with the third-fewest in baseball.

Sequence streaks

The one membership with extra consecutive league championship sequence appearances than Houston was Atlanta with eight NLCS journeys from 1991-99. There have been no playoffs in 1994 as a result of gamers’ strike.

Energy firm

In simply his sixth playoff recreation, Lewis tied Greg Gagne with 4 postseason house runs for the second-most in Twins historical past, one behind Corridor of Fame member Kirby Puckett. Gagne and Puckett every performed 24 postseason video games on their approach to profitable World Sequence titles in 1987 and 1991.

Up subsequent

Houston went 9-4 towards the wild-card Rangers this season, giving the Astros the tiebreaker for the AL West title after each groups completed 90-72. Texas led the division for many of the yr, however the Astros beat Arizona on the ultimate day of the common season and the Rangers misplaced at Seattle.