BOSTON – Dusty Baker said Wednesday night that he hasn’t even decided who his starting pitcher will be for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, although his options are actually slim.
The Houston Astros manager is only convinced that the Boston Red Sox are far from being liquidated, despite the fact that the series is already 3-2 in favor of Houston and that the sixth game and a possible seventh are at home.
Baker said he is convinced that the Red Sox are a team that hardly gives up and that they will try until the last out to come back, as has happened during the previous five games.
“I feel good, but I don’t feel great,” acknowledged Baker. “I’m not going to feel great until we meet our goal. I’ve been 3-2 a couple of times. I was up 3-2 once in Chicago and back to Wrigley with Kerry Wood and things didn’t work out. We’ll see; to keep playing baseball. “
The Astros manager said that one of the most optimistic factors, beyond the great work of Framber Valdez during eight complete innings, in which he only allowed three hits with 93 pitches and that perhaps he could go to serve the complete game, is the ability to compete under any circumstance, no matter how complicated or hostile the immediate environment may seem.
“I don’t know. It seems like he left it behind and had Maldi (Martín Maldonado) directing him,” Baker said in reference to Valdez’s great exit in Game 5, compared to the first in the series in which he had problems from the beginning. and it was only two entrances and two thirds in the hill “.
“Maldi spoke to him at the right time and he was throwing strikes,” he added. “He had a good rhythm. He pitched, he didn’t waste time forcing that breaking ball, like he did the last two starts, and then he fell behind. He was attacking the strike zone and, I mean, his pitch count was very, Very low. He only got into trouble a couple of times, and then like I’ve always said, that sinker can get you out of trouble with two outs on one pitch, and I think that happened three or four times tonight. “
Baker is optimistic because he knows that his batters were in full swing, that they have hit when required, regardless of whether there are two outs, against Boston’s starting pitching and that they have punished the opposing relief.
“Tonight (Wednesday) Yordan (Alvarez) joined the party,” Baker said. “He’s a big guy in the middle (of the lineup) and he was attacking. He was ready to swing. If you have a guy in the lineup who shows up at the right time, it makes a world-size difference.”
Alvarez homered, single, doubled and produced three runs against left-hander Chris Sale, who didn’t allow a left-handed hitter to hit him three touchdowns in a single game since 2015.
“Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers and has been for years,” added the manager. “He was throwing 95 to 97 miles per hour. He shot better than the last time I saw him.”
Outfielder Michael Brantley refused to be surprised because when the Astros seemed finished, with poor pitching and muted bats, they resurfaced and are one win away from reaching their second World Series since 2017.
The superstars step forward at the right time, “he said.” It has been an honor to play with players like Carlos Correa and José Altuve, who are superstars; also with people like Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, Yordan Álvarez, who you know will show up when needed. “
“They prepare like no one every day and in the worst moments they always stay afloat and continue to compete at a high level. They are special companions and I appreciate that they have made me a better player.”
Rookie Luis Garcia was the starter in the Game 2 loss and it didn’t go well. In just one inning he allowed five earned runs before leaving with a knee injury. But Baker has reiterated that the Venezuelan is ready to return to the mound, although he has not specified whether he will start again.
But with the injury problem the Astros have in their rotation, which includes Lance McCullers Jr., who is out for the entire series, Baker likely has no choice but to get Garcia on the mound.
Another option could be Cristian Javier, who has experience as a starter. However, he pitched three full innings as a reliever Tuesday that required 57 pitches.
“It’s a team game,” reliever Ryan Pressly said. “Whether it’s the starters throwing seven innings when the bullpen is in trouble or vice versa, everyone lifts everyone else up in this organization.”
Game 6, which could be final, will be played Friday night in Houston.