Pitching Decisions, Lack of Timely Hits Leave Stain On Astros World Series Run

The Astros finished 4-for-29 (.138) with runners in scoring position in the four games they played at Minute Maid Park

Brandon Scott
October 31, 2019 - 11:05 am

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Zack Greinke pitched a nearly flawless game for much of his outing in Game 7 of the World Series. 

Greinke had given up just one hit going into the seventh inning, when Anthony Rendon homered and Juan Soto walked. 

Manager AJ Hinch’s decisions from there will live on forever as talking points in Houston sports history. 

Some fans are wondering why Gerrit Cole didn’t relieve Greinke, despite Cole being on just two days’ rest.  He was, after all, seen warming up in the bullpen. 

Others are wondering why Will Harris, of all the options. If not Cole, why not José Urquidy or Roberto Osuna, since the Nationals hitters had already seen so much of Harris?

The Astros were still up 2-1 with Rendon’s home run. Why pull Greinke at all at that point?

Cole, wearing a cap for his agent Scott Boras after the game, said he expected to get in the game if the Astros were still winning.

The plan was for Cole to close the game in the ninth after Osuna pitched, had the Astros kept the lead.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos said he expected to see Cole pitch, too. 

Harris had answered the bell so many times for the Astros, Hinch said, and he hates this is the way the season has to end for Harris and the team.

But for all the second-guessing, Alex Bregman’s also makes a good point. 

The Washington Nationals outplayed the Astros. They deserve to be the World Series champions. 

“They’re an unbelievable team,” Bregman said. “Coached well, they’ve got beast on the mound and a position player group of guys that grind it out every single day. They deserve to be World Series champions.”

A brutal seventh inning

After Adam Eaton grounded out to shortstop, Rendon sent an 88-mph changeup to left field on Greinke. 

Soto walked on five pitches, only swinging at the second-pitch curveball which he later laid off.

That’s when Hinch brought in Harris. 

Howie Kendrick sent fastball to the opposite side of the field, hit it off the fencing on the right field foul pole off the reliable reliever.

“I think I made a pretty good pitch,” Harris said. “He just made a championship play for a championship team. I’ve got to tip my hat to them for beating me today. I think I did everything I could do. It just wasn’t enough.”

Neither did the Astros hitters. They followed up the bottom half of the seventh with Michael Brantley lining out center field, Bregman grounding out to second base and Yordan Alvarez grounding out to the catcher.

Yuli Gurriel, who hit a solo home run for the Astros in the second inning, singled to center, but he was left stranded. 

Inability to hit with RISP

The Astros were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base Wednesday night. 

That kind of performance was a theme for the Astros this postseason. 

Hinch said it was a little bit of everything that contributed to their poor hitting with runners in scoring position.

“There’s times where it was chasing out of the zone. There were times we hit the ball really hard. There were times where they beat us. There’s time we could’ve been trying to do too much. You cross the gamut of reasons but it’s just our reality. That’s how it was. You go through stretches like that during the season and it kind of gets looked passed. But you go through it in the World Series and …”

Hinch then shrugged and said he’d rather have the opportunity and fail than never have anybody on base. 

Still, it was a huge difference in the World Series. 

The Astros finished 4-for-29 (.138) with runners in scoring position in the four games they played at Minute Maid Park. 

Cole appears to be gone

There was an eerie feeling about Gerrit Cole’s future, since he spoke in the past tense when he reluctantly met with reporters after the game.

Hunter Atkins at the Houston Chronicle reported Cole intended to avoid questions about his upcoming free agency. 

Related: Gerrit Cole: 'It Was a Pleasure' To Play For Astros

There was a back-and-forth between Cole and Astros media relations director Gene Dias about whether Cole was obligated to do the interview.

Cole said he was no longer employed, before finally agreeing to the interviews “as an affiliate of myself.”

Then he talked about how much he enjoyed playing for Houston … in the past tense.

“I learned a lot about pitching, from my teammates, from the pitching coaches and the pitching staff,” Cole said. ”You know, I learned a lot more about the game from A.J. and it was just a pleasure to play in the city of Houston.”