The Houston Astros were, without a doubt, one of the best teams in the American League during the 2021 regular season.
They won their division by five games and reached 95 wins.
In the first round of the MLB playoffs, the Division Series, they defeated the Chicago White Sox, 3-1.
However, their weaknesses are being exposed by the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the ALCS is still wide open despite the fact that Boston holds a 2-1 advantage with Monday night’s blowout victory.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that the Astros’ pitching corps are failing to keep the offense in the game.
Everything Went Wrong After Game 1
The Astros took Game 1 with a 5-4 score, but after that, the pitching has fallen completely apart.
Game 2 resulted in a 9-5 win for Boston, one that helped them take away home-field advantage.
Houston was out of the game by the second inning, a result of allowing grand slams in the first and second inning.
Rookie Luis Garcia, who impressed during the regular season, was unable to silence the Red Sox’s potent offense, conceding five earned runs on two hits and three walks.
Game 3 was more of the same: after a scoreless first inning, the Red Sox scored six runs in the second frame and three in the third, and they were winning 9-0 by the time the fourth inning rolled around.
Astros Pitching pic.twitter.com/1lEVh9QOjf
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 19, 2021
It’s evident that Houston’s starters aren’t doing their job.
Not even Framber Valdez was particularly impressive in the Game 1 victory, as he surrendered three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks over 2.2 frames.
The rotation has been a major problem area for manager Dusty Baker.
The Astros offense is extremely good, but no offense is good enough to consistently overcome eight or nine-run deficits with ease.
And the Red Sox’s pitching staff also deserves credit, as they have held Houston to 13 runs in three games, a little over four per game (lower than their 5.3 average in the regular season).
The Astros relief corps did a wonderful job in Game 1, silencing the Red Sox to just a single run in 6.1 innings.
After that, everything has gone downhill, as they have conceded 10 runs in two games.
What’s Next For The Astros?
To come back in the series, the Astros’ pitchers need to do a better job.
Of course, it’s considerably easier said than done: not everybody has the talent to consistently retire the likes of Kike Hernandez, Rafael Devers, JD Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Xander Bogaerts, and the rest of the tough Red Sox’s lineup.
It also hasn’t helped that Lance McCullers Jr., the Astros’ best pitcher, is out for the series.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 14, 2021
But it doesn’t matter how many runs the talented lineup scores: the pitching needs to be better.
Zack Greinke, who has had his fair share of postseason moments, will take the ball in Game 4 and try to stop the bleeding.
Winning Tuesday is crucial for the Astros: a 3-1 hole would be a crushing blow, one that very few teams have been able to get out of.
The time is now for Houston’s pitchers to shine.