Bill Gilbert: Late Review~Astros’ Series Win

With apologies for the fact that Bill Gilbert’s final report on the World Series was somehow lost in the Internet Digital Post Office for 6 days until this Sunday Evening, 11/12/17.


Astros Defeat Dodgers to Win First World Series

By Bill Gilbert

It took only 56 years, 3 ballparks, eighteen managers, hundreds of players and several ownership and uniform changes to get there but the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4 games to 3 in the 2017 World Series. It wasn’t easy as they had the difficult task of defeating the three largest payroll clubs, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and the Dodgers to reach the prize.

There were numerous twists and turns along the way, especially in the World Series. Game 2 with eight home runs including five in extra innings was acclaimed as a game for the ages but the drama of that game was eclipsed four days later in another extra inning game in which the Astros hit five home runs and overcame 4-0 and 7-4 deficits against Clayton Kershaw to win 13-12 in a game that was expected to be a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Dallas Keuchel. Both teams had 14 hits in the game including eight extra base hits by each team. The game took 5 hours and 17 minutes and was the second longest game in World Series history.

The Series returned to Los Angeles after Game 5 with the Astros leading 3 games to 2. Expectations were high for the Astros with Justin Verlander, undefeated in his nine appearances with the Astros after his acquisition on August 31, scheduled to pitch. Verlander pitched well, allowing only 2 runs in 6 innings but Dodger pitching was better and they prevailed 3-1. This set up Game 7 at Dodger Stadium with Lance McCullers, Jr. facing Yu Darvish of the Dodgers.

The Astros struck early as George Springer led off the first inning with a double leading to 2 runs. They struck again in the second inning when Springer hit a two-run home run for a 5-0 lead, locking up the Series MVP vote with his fifth long drive in the Series after striking out four times in Game 1. McCullers struggled with the control of his fast ball, hitting four batters, but holding the Dodgers scoreless before being removed in the third inning. The Astros used four pitchers in relief with Charlie Morton working the last 4 innings and picking up the win to begin the celebration.

After acquiring Verlander, the Astros were considered a viable contender to go all the way. However, there were concerns. Could the Astros, the best offensive team in the regular season, do the same against stronger pitching that they would face in the playoffs? Also, would the inconsistent relief pitching be able to compete with the stronger bullpens of the other contenders? The answer was no in both cases but the Astros consistently came up with clutch performances at bat, on the mound and in the field to overcome any shortcomings and they prevailed in the two extra-inning games.

The Astros batted .282 in the regular season but only .240 in the post season. However, the other playoff teams also hit below their regular season averages. Jose Altuve (.310) and Yuli Gurriel (.304) were the only two Astros that batted over .300 in the playoffs and Brian McCann, Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick hit below .200. The Astros hit 27 home runs in the post-season including 14 in the World Series, both records. All eight regulars hit at least one except Reddick.

The pitchers ERA of 4.13 in the post-season was essentially the same as the regular season ERA of 4.12. The regular relief pitchers faltered in the post-season requiring the use of starters Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton, Collin McHugh, McCullers and even Verlander in relief roles. They performed better than the regular relievers and Morton picked up wins in both Game 7 vs. the Yankees and Game 7 against the Dodgers. In the 18 post-season games played by the Astros (11-7), there were only four saves, two by Ken Giles (who blew 3 save opportunities) and one each by starters McCullers and Peacock.

What’s ahead for the Astros? All nine of the position players who played regularly in the playoffs are signed for next year and should be back. The top six starting pitchers are also signed for 2018. There are 5 free agents that may or may not be back (Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano and Tyler Clippard). None played major roles in the post-season.

The Astros have several prospects on the verge of being major league ready that could be with the team next year or possibly traded for some pitching help in the bullpen.

The total rebuild of the franchise begun by Tal Smith and Ed Wade in 2011 by drafting Springer, developing Altuve and trading away high salaried players who were nearing the end of their careers has paid off in a big way under the direction of Jeff Luhnow. The team has been built for more than a one-year run and should be a strong contender for several years along with perennial contenders like the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Indians, Nationals and Cubs.

Bill Gilbert




Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle




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