• Brian L. Barefield

Southern Hospitality Only Goes So Far Astros take Game 2 of the ALDS to lead series 2-0 over the A’s

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

One thing you should never do is take someone’s kindness for weakness. Allow them to be nice and cordial to you, appreciate the gesture and then move on. The moment someone feels as if you are trying to take advantage of them, they will show you another side you knew existed but didn’t want to see. That side is one that kicks butt and takes no regards for your feelings.

Someone forgot to give the Oakland A’s that memo about the Houston Astros. With Oakland winning the 2020 American League West Division title, they figured that they had certain bragging rights since they snatched it out of the grasp of the Astros for the first time in the last three seasons.

So, they came into the American League Division Series with a certain tone and manner in which they carried themselves. Outside of feeling like the protectors of their teammate Mike Fiers who pitched for the Astros and blew the whistle on the complexed sign-stealing scandal of 2017, they also felt as if it was their duty to stop the Astros and become the saviors for MLB fans, players, and of course, social media.

On Tuesday, Houston (2-0) had to remind Oakland (0-2) that although they haven’t done much trash talking this year, that they are still the team to beat in the American League. The Astros beat the A’s 5-2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five ALDS.

“With every victory, the energy and confidence grows,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker about his teams’ attitude after the win. “You are expecting good things to happen. You are expecting to win. When you played as bad as we had for so long, you look for things to start to happen positively for you.”

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

For the second game in a row, the positive spark started with lead off hitter George Springer. Starting pitcher Framber Valdez gave up a home run to A’s Khris Davis in the bottom of the second inning to give Oakland a 1-0 lead before Springer hit a blast to left-center field on a 3-2 pitch in the top of the third inning off of A’s pitcher Sean Manaea. That brought home Josh Reddick who had singled earlier in the inning.

After the two teams traded runs in the fourth inning, Astros catcher Martin Maldonado hit a solo shot to left-center field, but wasn’t able to celebrate for long before Springer sent another one out of Dodger Stadium to increase the lead to three runs and give Houston the cushion needed to finish the game.

"It's the playoffs. This is supposed to be fun,” said Springer whose 17 postseason homeruns are the most by any Astros player in club history and is tied for seventh all-time. “You've got to enjoy it. You don't know if you're ever going to get back here. The times that you are, you might as well try to have fun."

The bats weren’t the only thing that was hot for Houston in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The aforementioned starting pitcher Framber Valdez had the A’s guessing over seven innings of work. His only mistake was giving up two homeruns in the second and fourth innings. Enoli Paredes and Ryan Pressly closed out the game for the Astros holding Oakland to just one hit in the final two innings.

Resiliency and toughness have been displayed by the Astros this postseason. They seem to get tougher the longer the game goes on. In four games played during the playoffs, Houston has not allowed a run from the sixth inning to the end of the game. Compare that to the thirteen that they have scored, and you have the chemistry to a 4-0 record.

Manager Dusty Baker knows that being up 2-0 on the A’s means nothing and doesn’t want his team to get too comfortable with this momentum that they have.

"You've got to put them away when you've got a chance," Baker said. "You let them off the mat, these guys know how to win. We'd like to win tomorrow and not have any drama in Games 4 and 5. We know these guys have been here before and we know it's not complete and not done until the final out, and hopefully it's in our favor tomorrow."

Game 4 is Wednesday at 2:35 pm CST in Los Angeles.

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