Houston In Familiar Territory

Like it or not, the Astros are back in the final four.

Houston blew out the White Sox 10-1 on Tuesday to clinch its fifth consecutive ALCS appearance.

After their infamous 2019 cheating scandal, much of the MLB-watching public didn’t believe they could hit without stealing signs — and without their Big Three rotation, the Astros’ run seemed to be over.

But Houston found value elsewhere.

  • Gerrit Cole signed with the Yankees this winter (record $324 million contract), Justin Verlander missed the entire season (Tommy John), and Zack Greinke has dealt with injuries.
  • Lance McCullers Jr. stepped up as Houston’s postseason ace (1 ER, 9 K, 10.2 IP in ALDS). The 28-year-old signed a five year, $85 million contract in March.
  • Key rotation pieces Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia are both on two-way contracts and making less than $640,000 this season.

And despite yet another allegation of home-field cheating — Carlos Correa had some choice words for accuser Ryan Tepera — the offense had no problem racking up 31 runs and 38 hits across four games.

The Astros have now tied the 1971-75 Athletics for all-time consecutive ALCS appearances and have the most in either league since the Braves rattled off eight straight from 1991-99.

Their matchup with Boston sees Houston reunite with former bench coach Alex Cora — who had to sit out last year for his involvement in the scandal.