/Astros get last laugh with ALCS Game 4 win, silence Yankee Stadium fans

Astros get last laugh with ALCS Game 4 win, silence Yankee Stadium fans

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NEW YORK — They screamed obscenities, taunted the Houston Astros throughout the night Thursday, and of course, accused them of cheating.

By the end, the Astros heard nothing but the sweet sound of silence with Yankee Stadium virtually deserted.

The Astros, winning 8-3 over the New York Yankees, are on the brink of returning to the World Series, leading 3 games to 1 in the American League Championship Series.

The cold reality is that the series is over, and should officially end Friday night with Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander on the mound for the Astros.

Sweet revenge has never felt so good.

“I think winning three straight at their home park,’’ Astros right fielder Josh Reddick said, “will make a bigger statement than that.’’

The Astros say they love being in the raucous atmosphere of Yankee Stadium.

Reddick, who had objects thrown at him in Game 3, prompting Astros manager A.J. Hinch to warn the umpiring crew that he’ll take his team off the field if it happens again, says it’s one thing for fans to support their team, but quite another to make it cruel and personal.

“There could be atmospheres where it’s loud, it’s electric,’’ Reddick said, “and the outfield bleachers aren’t really saying unnecessary stuff at you or your whole team. There are places you go like Tampa. Tampa was a loud atmosphere (in the Division Series), and nobody was yelling, obscene gestures about my wife, or my mother out there. That’s definitely something you get when you come here. …

“They’re going to find anything they can on you whether its them using Google to the best of their abilities or just picking on you with what they have at any given time.’’

The right-field fans stood and screamed at Reddick when he came onto the field in the first inning, but he kept his back to them, trying his best not to acknowledge them. It could happen to any opposing right fielder, Reddick says, but he also knows it’s personal.

“I think it’s a little different for me because I’m a loud-mouth and I speak my mind,’’ Reddick said. “And I don’t think they like that. I speak facts, and I’m just going to talk about what I want to talk about.

“I’m a grown man, I can do it.’’

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If it’s not enough dealing with the hostilities from the fans, the Astros are incensed that anonymous members of the Yankees’ organization accused them of cheating. There were several published reports in New York that said the Astros were whistling and banging pipes in their dugout at Minute Maid Park to relay signs.

“We all get sick of it because it takes away the credibility of our hitters,’’ Reddick says. “This is a damn good lineup and it shouldn’t be shunned by people saying were cheating and whistling in the dugout.

“How can you even hear whistling in a playoff game? You can’t hear whistling in a playoff game from a dugout. There’s no way you can do it, so it makes no sense where that comes from.’’

Why can’t the Astros simply get credit for being one of the greatest teams in baseball the past few years, winning 115 games this year, and on the verge of their second World Series in three years?

“When I listen to the people talking about it in the business, I just laugh,’’ said Carlos Correa, who along with George Springer hit three-run homers. “I just laugh because they say, ‘Oh, we have something or the pitchers were tipping,’ when they had nothing, sometimes. You know what I mean?

“We’re just watching the game. We’re taking advantage of every single detail we can get. Hitting is tough. If you’re tipping your pitches, fix it. If you’re tipping your pitch and I can see, I’m going to take advantage of it. I’m trying to help my team win ball games, and every single edge counts.

“But I think it’s disrespectful that every time we score a lot of runs, people talk about tipping. Nobody was tipping today and we scored, what, eight runs? We’re great hitters. We’ve been doing it for a whole season.

“You look across the board the numbers this team has put up through a full season, it’s just unbelievable how many guys have been on top of their game this year. Not every pitcher that goes out there for 162 tips.’’

Astros MVP candidate Alex Bregman has heard the accusations for years, but shrugs them off, calling it comical.

“It’s just like, silly, honestly,’’ Bregman told USA TODAY Sports. “We’re like, ‘Come on, again? People are trying to find an excuse to why we win games.’

“There’s going to be people always throwing reasons why we win, and stuff like that. To us, we know we win because were a damn good baseball team.

“We’re just go to focus on playing baseball, do our thing, and let people say what they want.’’

Let them keep talking, Hinch said, but if you talk, be a man and put your name behind it.

“In reality, it’s a joke,’’ Hinch said. “When I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it’s ridiculous. Had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in spring training.

“The problem I have is when other people take shots at us outside this competition. When you guys ask me this question, my face, my name is by my quotes, my opinions, my reaction is all for you guys to tweet out and put on the broadcast. But we have people that are unnamed, or you guys have sources that are giving you information. I suggest they put their name by it if they’re so passionate about it to comment about my team or my players.’’

If people really want to talk, maybe they turn their attention to the Yankees, a team that barely looked like they belonged on the same field with the Astros this night.

They made four errors, their most in a postseason game in 43 years.

They struck out 13 times, including 11 times from the No. 2 to No. 7 spots in the order.

They were hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left 10 runners on base.

It was an absolute stinker.

“We played poorly tonight,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said, “there’s no other way to explain it. And we need to flush this immediately.

“Stranger things have certainly happened, a lot stranger. We need to play a cleaner game, obviously, if we’re going to beat a team like that.’’

The Astros won’t come out and say it, but they know this series is over.

They fully expect to be playing in front a subdued crowd Friday night, with most of the Yankee fans gone by the time they celebrate the American League pennant.

The Astros know they need to win one more game, but with Verlander on the mound, they’d love to end it early, making sure they will have a rested bullpen with Cole going in Game 1 of the World Series.

“We have all of the faith in the world in him,’’ Reddick said. “We want him to on the mound. It would make it so much sweeter to do it [Friday], go home, spend time with the family, and get ready for the World Series.

“Let’s get it done right here.’’

A silent Yankee Stadium may never sound more beautiful.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

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