MINNEAPOLIS — If any team knows how to win big on the road in October, it’s the Astros, who have won the American League pennant four times in the past six seasons and are filled with A crucial away victory. They added one more to their roster Tuesday afternoon at Target Field and are on the verge of winning another playoff series.
Jose Abreu hit two homers, including a three-run shot off starting pitcher Sonny Gray in the four-run first inning, and Christian Javier walked the tightrope between victory and disaster before The fifth inning broke free from a bases-loaded jam to score a scoreless victory as the Astros beat the Twins 9-1 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
“I think we as a Houston Astros organization, we understand how difficult it is to win and get into this game, and individually, the crowd quieted down a little bit after that,” Abreu said. “But we just came out and tried to play our best game and try to win today. Thankfully, we got the win.”
The defending World Series champion Astros lead 2-1 in the best-of-five series and can punch their ticket to their seventh consecutive AL Championship Series with a win in Game 4 of the ALDS on Wednesday. They’ll get the ball to José Urquidy, a three-time World Series winner.
“I’m eager to finish this series tomorrow and enjoy it with everyone,” Urquidi said.
In all best-of-five postseason series, teams leading 2-1 after Game 3 have won 69 of 96 times (72 percent). In the current 2-2-1 division series, teams leading 2-1 and playing Game 4 on the road have advanced in 21 of 32 games (66%), with 21 winning goals. 17 teams ended the series in Game 4.
The reason the Astros have such a tough October is because of their vast postseason experience—nothing can faze them, and no moments can surprise them. They are all born for the playoffs, whether it is Abreu, who came to Houston to win the championship this year, or Alex Bregman, who has participated in 89 playoff games in his career.
“This is the club we have,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “This is a very confident club, not an arrogant club. We don’t show too much. We just play. These guys have a knack of supporting each other. Day in and day out, there can be a lot of heroes, like today Same, or there is someone (someone else) leading us on a particular day.”
For the third consecutive postseason, Javier went at least five innings and allowed one hit or fewer, something no one else had ever done. He threw about five four-hit balls and struck out nine batters. The only hit he allowed was a double by Max Kepler in the first inning.
Still, there were some tense moments in the fifth game.
Javier walked the bases with one out, then came back to strike out Kepler and Royce Lewis, the Astros’ biggest two outs of the season so far. Javier had 19 swing-and-misses on 87 pitches, including 13 sliders, the most of his career. He extended his scoreless postseason streak to 16 1/3 innings.
“The only way to upset him is to punch him,” receiver Martin Maldonado said. “I spent time with him on the sidelines, and that’s who he is. What you see on the mound is the same thing I see. Strike out somebody, he doesn’t get excited. A guy hits a home run, he Not excited. Even if he’s not batting, not pitching, and someone hits a home run, he’s like (confused). That’s why he’s called “The Reptile.” ‘”
The Astros offense, meanwhile, has been much better on the road this year than at home, showing some muscle early on the road and getting to Gray in the first inning. Kyle Tucker’s RBI single gave Houston the lead, and Abreu hit a Statcast-estimated 442-foot home run to left field to make it 4-0.
Bregman and Yordan Alvarez joined in the fun with a home run each. Bregman’s leadoff hit in the fifth inning was his 16th career postseason home run, surpassing Babe Ruth on the all-time postseason home run list. member. No third baseman in American League/NL history has hit more postseason home runs than Bregman.
“The first two shots, I didn’t feel good, but after that, (I) just made some adjustments to my approach and mechanics, and it felt better after that,” Bregman said.
Alvarez, who had already hit two doubles in the game, hit his fourth home run of the series in the ninth inning. In the best-of-five postseason series, he trailed only Juan Gonzalez (five homers in the 1996 ALDS) and Ken Griffey Jr. Hit 5 home runs in 1995 ALDS).
“He’s been great in big moments, and they’ve really marketed him well,” Baker said. “But if you can hit, you can hit. There’s not a whole bunch of hitters around him, but he’s one of the top hitters in baseball, and he’s very focused. He has so little travel, he can’t be Such a big guy. I mean, most big guys have a longer swing. He’s very quiet and confident.”
Quiet and confident. Just like the Astros.