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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Baseball

Astros graded through two games


Pitcher Chris Devenski earned the win after recording the final four outs of Game 2 of the World Series. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Through 16 innings of the World Series, the Houston Astros were leaning toward an F letter grade. The only ones who were performing well were third baseman Alex Bregman and the two starting pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander.

But the next four innings changed the look of the report cards for every player on the team. Some for the better, and some for the worse.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel: B-

Gurriel’s only hit of the World Series so far came against relief pitcher Josh Fields in the 10th inning of Game 2. Right after, Fields gave up back-to-back home runs. Gurriel has played well at first base but has not done much offensively to earn a better grade than a B-.

Second baseman Jose Altuve: B

For a while, it looked like Altuve hit the game-winning home run in the 10th inning of Game 2, but that does not excuse his previous at-bats. Altuve has struggled to see the ball, let alone hit it, after striking out three times.

The worst came in the third inning of Game 2 when the Astros had two men on base with only one out. Altuve could have busted open the game but failed to hit three fastballs. Altuve’s home run and his defense has to be rewarded, but for the American League batting champion to have only two hits through two games means Altuve gets a B.

Shortstop Carlos Correa: A-

Correa’s bat got hot in Game 2 after going hitless in Game 1. In addition to his infield defense and his home run in the 10th inning, Correa was the first to get a hit off of closer Kenley Jansen. That made Game 2 a one-run game going into the ninth inning. The comeback wasn’t complete, but it showed that the Astros could hit the unhittable.

The Dodgers may have tied the game following Correa’s 10th inning home run, but his performances in the tough situations earn Correa an A-.

Third baseman Alex Bregman: A+

Bregman has been without a doubt the best hitter for the Astros through two games. In Game 1, he was the only Astro to hit an RBI off Clayton Kershaw with a home run in the fourth inning, and in Game 2, he got the Astros on the board first, scoring Josh Reddick in the third inning with an RBI single.

Despite recording an error, Bregman kept his starting pitcher in the game by catching lineouts, getting ground balls and starting double plays. For his overall performance through the two games, Bregman gets an A+.

Left fielder Marwin Gonzalez: A

Gonzalez finally got a hit in the World Series, and it came in the most improbable fashion. With two strikes in the ninth inning, against the best closer in baseball, Gonzalez hit a game-tying home run to keep the game alive for the Astros.

For what that home run meant and how it happened, Gonzalez gets an A.

Center fielder George Springer: A+

After going 0-4 in Game 1, Springer shut up all his doubters in Game 2. Continuing to play great defense in center field, Springer’s bat finally got hot as he went 3-5. Springer was able to get hits on both starting pitcher Rich Hill and closer Kenley Jansen.

Springer’s offensive rejuvenation culminated with his 11th inning, two-run home run. In a moment when Springer had to get a hit, he came in clutch for his team. For the night that he had and scoring the game-winning run, Springer gets an A+.

Right fielder Josh Reddick: B

Reddick got his second straight hit in as many games in Game 2. This time he got some support from the hitters behind him. Although it did not last long, Reddick’s run in the third inning gave the Astros their first lead in the World Series since Oct. 25, 2005.

But apart from that, Reddick still struggled with runners in scoring position and was never tested defensively. For that, Reddick gets a B.

Pinch-hitter Cameron Maybin: A

In only one inning played, Maybin made the most of his appearance, pinch-hitting for Reddick in the 11th inning. Maybin singled, stole a base and scored a run on Springer’s two-run home run. Maybin did everything right, so he gets an A despite only playing one inning.

Starting Pitcher Dallas Keuchel: B

Keuchel had a rough welcome in his first World Series game, giving up a lead-off home run to Chris Taylor with the first pitch of Game 1. But after that, Keuchel was solid. Despite the lead-off man getting on base each inning, Keuchel kept pitching out of bad innings.

The one inning Keuchel lost control, however, the Dodgers pounced. A two-out walk to Taylor followed by a Justin Turner home run put the Dodgers ahead and saw the end of Keuchel’s night. From there, the Dodger’s rode the score to a Game 1 win.

Overall, it was a much better performance than Keuchel’s last road game, which was a shutout loss to the New York Yankees. But Keuchel’s failure to avoid the long ball earns him a B grade in what would otherwise have been a stellar performance.

Starting Pitcher Justin Verlander: B+

Verlander played up to his reputation in Game 2. Through six innings pitched, he struck out five and allowed only two hits. The problem, however, is that those two hits were both home runs. In a repeat of the previous night, the Dodgers lead 3-1 after the sixth inning.

Verlander played like the ace on the staff but could not avoid the same mistakes Keuchel made, so his grade is only slightly better at a B+.

Pitcher Chris Devenski: A

Devenski may have given up a home run in the bottom of the 11th inning, but he looked more like a closer than Ken Giles did. With the Astros up by two, Devenski faced three of the toughest pitchers in the Dodgers’ lineup, getting Corey Seager and Justin Turner to line out and striking out Yasiel Puig to earn the win.

The home run dents his grade, but for his Game 2 win and for his two strikeouts in Game 1, Devenski gets an A.

Pitcher Ken Giles: F

Giles’ failure to get the final out in the 10th inning gets him an F. Despite getting three outs in the ninth inning to keep the game alive, Giles could not get Logan Forsythe out, and he proved to be the game-tying run.

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