Rubby De La Rosa
|Jose Altuve - 2B||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|George Springer - RF||Phil Gosselin - 2B|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Colby Rasmus - CF||Aaron Hill - 3B|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Welington Castillo - C|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Yasmany Tomas - LF|
|Preston Tucker - LF||Chris Owings - SS|
|Jason Castro - C||Socrates Brito - RF|
|Dallas Keuchel - LHP||Rubby De La Rosa - RHP|
So, let's review. The Houston Astros come into the final series of the season with a one-game lead for the second wild-card spot in the American League, over both the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins. The Angels have a tough final series, taking on the Texas Rangers in Arlington, with the Rangers needing to win one of the final three games to clinch the AL West title. The Twins, meanwhile, host the AL Central champion Kansas City Royals. So, the Astros clearly have the easiest task, right? Not so fast. Because great though they have been, that is based on a very, very good record in Houston: no team in the AL has won more home games than the Astros.
We saw that, and we saw why, during the series we played there, as we watched their roster launch Little League home-runs into the ridiculously short left-field porch, as they took two games out of three against Arizona. At home, they've hit more HR than any team in baseball, even the Blue Jays. But on the road? Not so much, and that's partly why (although their pitching has kinda sucked away from home too) their record away from Houston is 31-47. That's worse than Milwaukee and Oakland have been on the road this year, and good enough only for 24th place in the majors. The Astros won exactly two of fifteen road series since June 18.
That said, it won't be easy, especially having to go through Keuchel in the opening game, and it doesn't help that neither David Peralta nor Ender Inciarte are available, due to wrist and shin issues respectively. Keuchel's comments about wanting to celebrate in the pool should have provided bulletin-board fodder for the Diamondbacks, giving them motivation to complete what would be an epic collapse for the Astros. After beating the Yankees on Aug 26, they were 5.5 games up, with a 99.2% chance of making the playoffs. Were they to miss out, it would be among the biggest implosions in the past century. Make it so, Rubby: make it so.