The Houston Astros will compete in the AL Championship Series for the fifth consecutive year. Their stars tested in October led the way.
Altuve hit a three-run homerun and scored four times, and Houston knocked out the Chicago White Sox with a 10-1 win in Game 4 of their AL Division series on Tuesday.
“We never tire of this moment,” Correa said. “They are special and we are doing our best in October. “
Correa and Bregman each netted a two-point brace as the Astros rebounded from Sunday night’s 12-6 loss with their usual relentless baseball mark. Michael Brantley had three hits and two RBIs.
Next up for Altuve and Co. is ALCS Game 1 against former Astros bench coach Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox on Friday in Houston. The Red Sox eliminated Tampa Bay with a 6-5 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.
“We are playing against another good team,” said Altuve.
This is Houston’s second ALCS under 72-year-old manager Dusty Baker, whose club had the best over 77-year-old Chicago skipper Tony La Russa. Baker replaced AJ Hinch, who was fired following the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, which also resulted in a one-year ban for Cora.
A La Russa tester got into an argument with referee Tom Hallion after feeling Houston reliever Kendall Graveman intentionally punching reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu with two strikeouts in the eighth. Abreu has been planted 22 times during the regular season.
“There’s a choice of character they should answer for,” La Russa said. “Stupid too.
“I’ll be interested to see if they admit it. If they don’t admit it, then they’re very dishonest. “
Baker, who has trained with La Russa in the past, said his team had not intentionally pitched on Abreu.
“We had no reason to hit Abreu,” Baker said. “He hadn’t done anything to us.
Gavin Sheets connected for Chicago, becoming the third rookie in franchise history to score a homer in a postseason game. But Carlos Rodon was knocked out in the third set of his first start since September 29, and the AL Central champions left eight runners on base.
The White Sox also lost in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, losing two of three to Oakland. Prior to this year, the franchise had never made consecutive playoff appearances.
“It was a fun race. Ended a bit short, ”said Rodon.
The Astros are on the hunt for the franchise’s second championship after winning it all in 2017, a title that still evokes a strong backlash around the game after the team were punished for using electronics to steal signs.
The crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field chanted “Cheater! Cheater! Sometimes during both games in Chicago, and White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera hinted late Sunday night that Houston may have stolen signs in Games 1 and 2.
But the Astros, used to dealing with boos since fans returned to the stands this season, have swept it all away.
“We were constantly bombarded with negatives, especially on the road,” Baker said. “But these guys, they come to play and they love each other. “
Correa gave Houston the lead to hold on to their brace with two outs in the third, shooting Rodon’s 0-2 quickball to the left. The Astros charged up the goals on two walks and one fastpitch that hit Altuve, drawing a salute of cheers from the crowd of 40,170.
Correa pointed his left wrist, then hit his chest and shouted “It’s my time!” When he was in second after the big hit in his 67th career playoff game.
“You know what time it is, baby. It’s October, ”Correa said after the victory. “So yeah, I was happy with that. “
That was it for Rodon, who was limited on the stretch due to shoulder pain and fatigue. Passing his fastball again in the upper 90s after another extended hiatus, the southpaw was charged with two runs and three hits in his first career playoff start.
“He gave us everything he had,” La Russa said.
Houston added three more in the fourth for a 5-1 lead. Kyle Tucker hit a single and slid the second and third – the latter without a pitch – before coming home on the first hit of Martin Maldonado’s series.
Bregman led Maldonado and Altuve with his brace on a 3-0 pitch from Garrett Hook. The left-handed reliever then struck out left-handed batter Yordan Alvarez, ending the inning.
Big hits from Correa and Bregman provided more than enough attack for Lance McCullers Jr., who left with tight forearm tightness after four effective innings. Yimi Garcia got three strikeouts for the win.
McCullers also pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Houston’s 6-1 win in Game 1 on Thursday. If he can’t make it into the ALCS, that would be a big blow to the Astros.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with my ligament,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how I feel tomorrow and if we’re going to do any imagery, things like that.” “
Altuve punctuated Houston’s big day with his 19th career homerun in the playoffs, a three-point shot against closest all-star Liam Hendriks in the ninth.
“We have been here five times,” said Altuve. “And we’re just trying to pass it on to the guys who are coming here for the first time. “
Sheets reader in the second bounced off the top of the wall and over. Astros center fielder Jake Meyers crashed into the wall trying to make a bounding hold, then left with discomfort in his left shoulder.
The White Sox lost their center fielder when Luis Robert left with tightness in his right leg before the Astros struck in the seventh.