Astros bats outside Altuve scuffling going into World Series

Astros bats outside Altuve scuffling going into World Series
Houston Astros' Jose Altuve hits a double against the New York Yankees during the first inning in Game 6 of baseball's American League Championship Series Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Houston.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

HOUSTON (AP) — Take out pennant-clinching home run hitter Jose Altuve, and the Houston Astros’ bats are really scuffling this postseason.

After leading the majors with a .274 team batting average during the regular season, the Astros hit only .208 in their two American League playoffs series while making it to their second World Series in three seasons. That drops nearly 20 points without the AL Championship Series MVP.

“The playoffs aren’t about statistics. It’s about moments,” George Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, said Monday. “It takes only at-bat a day to help your team. One at-bat a day can impact a game.”

Springer hit five home runs in that 2017 World Series after going 3 for 26 (.115) in the seven-game AL Championship Series, when he had three singles and didn’t drive in a run.

The Astros are hoping for similar performances from several players going into Game 1 against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel, who hit .289 in 144 regular-season games, is at .209 in the playoffs. Five of Houston’s regulars are at .172 or lower — shortstop Carlos Correa (7 of 41), rookie DH Yordan Alvarez (7 of 41), Springer (3 of 22), right fielder Josh Reddick and catcher Robinson Chirinos (2 of 22).

“I think the regular season I had to make adjustments, did have challenges, but the challenges are magnified in the postseason obviously,” Alvarez said through a translator. “It’s still about making adjustments, and because the pitchers are stronger, you have to make adjustments faster.”

Alvarez hit .313 with 27 home runs in 87 games after first joining the team in June.

Altuve, whose fifth homer this postseason came in the bottom of the ninth inning in the clinching Game 6 against the New York Yankees, is hitting .349 (14 of 43) with eight RBIs and 10 runs scored.

Alex Bregman is about 40 points below his regular season average at .257 (10 of 35). But he’s got 10 walks and his .435 on-base percentage is actually slightly higher than his mark before the playoffs.

STREAKING INTO SERIES

The Washington Nationals are the fourth team to enter the World Series with a winning streak of at least six games in that postseason. They will try to become the first to then win the championship.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals had won eight in a row that postseason, winning the AL wild-card game before sweeping through the AL Division Series and ALCS. Their winning streak ended with a loss in Game 1 to San Francisco, which went on to take the series in seven games.

Colorado swept the NL Division Series and NL Championship Series in 2007, but the Rockies were then swept by Boston in the World Series.

Detroit took a seven-game winning streak into the 2006 World Series, but fell to St. Louis in five games.

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Astros reliever Ryan Pressly says he expects to be able to pitch in the World Series.

Pressly threw only one pitch in the clinching Game 6 of the ALCS on Saturday night, getting Didi Gregorius of the Yankees on a soft grounder. But the reliever had to leave the game after aggravating his surgically repaired right knee — he had the procedure in August and missed time.

“Not going into too much detail about my knee,” Pressly said before a workout. “I think we’ll be fine.”

Manager AJ Hinch said the Astros would announce their roster prior to Game 1 on Tuesday night.

“Quite honestly, the health of Ryan Pressly is going to be key in those decisions. He’s going to do some things on the field today. Hopefully get off the mound. He’s feeling better. We anticipate him being available and ready to go,” Hinch said.

“But until we clear him as active we’re going to have to hold off on our roster,” he said. “There could be a change or two either based on health or based on matchup.”

Pressly was an All-Star this season, going 2-3 with a 2.32 ERA in 55 games. He struggled in the playoffs against Tampa Bay and New York, allowing four runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings over six games.

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