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Solomon: Astros are Team October

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 10/18/2019 By Jerome Solomon, Staff writer

Martín Maldonado, Carlos Correa are posing for a picture: Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run against New York Yankees relief pitcher Chad Green during the sixth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York. © Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) celebrates with teammates after hitting a three-run home run against New York Yankees relief pitcher Chad Green during the sixth inning of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in New York.

NEW YORK — In the pregame hype video at venerable Yankee Stadium, a broadcaster’s call blared throughout the stadium as a highlight reel ran on the video screen, stating that the “dream season continues.”

Well, it is continuing. But perhaps for just one more day, thanks to the Houston Astros.

BOX SCORE: ASTROS 8, YANKEES 3

On Thursday, the Astros once again flexed their muscle against the Yankees, taking an 8-3 win to move within a victory of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three years.

This was another all-around team effort with flashes of brilliance from a host of players for the club that sports a roster of Mr. Octobers.

There is a lot of baseball left — the Astros are still five wins from winning a World Series, and the rested Washington Nationals will provide a challenge if and when Houston gets past the Yankees — but Team October is a fitting moniker.

One player can carry a team. That player plays for the Astros. He is an infielder, an outfielder, a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher.

Seriously, nobody is even hot; the team is just that good. Granted, you can get scorched just walking past Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander, but otherwise the Astros have methodically pressured the Yankees, who can’t match their depth.

The Astros’ team MVP and should-be AL MVP Alex Bregman had only one single in 10 at-bats in the series before picking up a double in the eighth inning Thursday. He eventually scored an insurance run.

Yeah, that’s how much in control of this series the Astros are. Bregman is scoring insurance runs with the team already ahead 6-3. In all, seven Astros scored Thursday night.

“We have a team offense,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We have a lot of big names; we have a lot of guys that have some star appeal. We do have guys that any given day … can bust out and have that big monster night, but our team is at its best when everybody is doing something.

“We put a lot of pressure on the opponent every day.”

For all the talk of the first run on the board changing the game, the Astros fell behind 1-0 and didn’t flinch.

The Astros got the lead on the swings of George Springer and Carlos Correa, who hit matching three-run homers.

Springer and Correa, who were drafted a year apart and debuted in the majors a year apart, now have hit homers in the same game six times in the playoffs, including in Game 2 of this series.

Incredibly, that is more than any other teammates in MLB history, according to STATS LLC.

As you might imagine, the Astros have won all six of those games.

Springer has more postseason home runs than any Astros player in history with 13 (just one ahead of Jose Altuve). Correa has more playoff RBIs than anyone who has ever played for the franchise. And according to ESPN, at 25, he is the youngest player in MLB history to hit 10 career postseason homers.

The three-headed monster the Astros have hoped for at the top of their pitching rotation hasn’t quite materialized, because the drop-off from Cole and Verlander to Zack Greinke has been pronounced.

Not because Greinke is terrible, but because Cole and Verlander are so far off the charts.

It took Greinke six pitches to throw a strike Thursday. He walked two batters in the inning on four pitches, including Brett Gardner with the bases loaded to put the Yankees on top.

But he grinded his way through the inning, and that was all the damage he allowed as he gave way to the bullpen after 41/3 innings.

Every out is significant in the playoffs. Hinch called on five relievers to close out the AL East champions.

Ryan Pressly (2/3 of an inning), Will Harris (one inning), Joe Smith (2/3 of an inning) and Roberto Osuna (11/3 innings) did not even allow a hit.

Josh James gave up a walk and a home run to the first two hitters he faced in the sixth inning, giving the Yankees one of their few highlights of the evening, but he made it through the rest of the frame unscathed.

And New York supposedly has the edge in the bullpen.

The Yankees are so shaken that they committed four errors in the game. The Astros have only three errors in the entire playoffs.

Better pitching, better hitting, better defense. Better team.

This highly anticipated series was in the works for several months, as the Astros and Yankees battled for the best record in the American League throughout the summer. The Astros proved to be the better team, posting an MLB-best 107 wins.

After a weird 7-0 loss in the opener, the Astros won an extra-inning thriller at home in Game 2, then came to Yankee Stadium facing the real possibility that the series would not return to Houston.

If you read that previous sentence and gave any consideration that the Astros thought it was in any way realistic that they could lose all three games at Yankee Stadium, you don’t know this team.

They came here thinking a sweep was possible, all right. The Astros will go for it Friday with Verlander on the mound.

Team October’s equipment manager should have packed brooms.

Jerome.Solomon@chron.com

twitter.com/jeromesolomon

Related Slideshow: Best of the 2019 MLB postseason (provided by imagn)


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