BOSTON – Dusty Baker prefers to focus on all the positives rather than the negatives before his Houston Astros travel to Boston this Sunday for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Red Sox.
The Astros manager acknowledged that being eight runs down before getting even two outs in the second inning and with the starting pitcher injured before reaching the third inning, it will never be the start of the game that someone imagined and less in a scenario like the prelude to the World Series.
But that there is too much in his Astros to establish the foundation that they can compete in all respects against the Red Sox.
“I think we’re pretty even,” Baker said. “That is why we are here. That is why we are both teams in the Final Four. These are two teams that are not going to give up. They took the lead earlier today. But we are still competing and this is far from over.”
Among the optimism is the way in which the Astros closed the game, despite the disadvantage and always battling from behind, such as the two homers they hit in the last inning: the first by Yuli Gurriel and the second by Jason Castro. .
“We have to go to Boston and push our foot forward and try to do everything we can to win games there,” said Gurriel, who produced three runs Saturday. “We know that we are in a somewhat complicated period due to the injuries we have suffered in the pitching staff, but we have to do our job.”
“We have to go out onto the pitch and try to put in all the runs we can,” he added. “And this team can hit under any circumstance.”
The Astros were already down 9-0 in the fourth inning and still managed to keep hitting without ducking their heads. They had eight hits, a number that could have been enough against most teams, including the Red Sox, except when the deficit was so great.
“They never showed mental weakness,” said Houston relief pitcher Jake Odorizzi. “The boys kept their heads up, motivated and competing at all times. This is the way this team is. It has been through everything and has endured everything on and off the pitch.”
Odorizzi was the first of four relievers to get 24 outs, as starter Luis Garcia barely completed one inning before hurting his knee. It is unknown if he will be able to continue in the series.
Only Odorizzi allowed runs; four with seven hits in the four innings he relieved. Blake Taylor, Yimi Garcia and Ryne Stanek combined to pitch two-hitters in the final four innings.
But after they had to use seven relievers in the first of the series, when starter Framber Valdez barely had two 2/3 innings, and all-star Lance McCullers Jr. is out with a forearm injury for at least the rest of the season. In the Championship Series, the Astros will have to start getting creative.
They will open Game 3 on Monday with Jose Urquidy, who hasn’t pitched the entire postseason. And from him they will have to begin to imagine their best combinations for the fourth and fifth games.
“We had tried to avoid using Odorizzi the first couple of games,” Baker explained. “That’s why we used everyone in Game 1. We had planned for him to be the starter for Game 4. But every time we have a plan, something happens …”.
“We will find ways to get ahead,” he guaranteed. “For now, we have a formidable group of guys that we will depend on and trust on Monday, Urquidy. And from there we will go.”