By CHRIS CAMPISE
Last Week’s Scoreboard:
- Monday, April 10 – HOU 0, SEA 6
- Tuesday, April 11 – HOU 7, SEA 5
- Wednesday, April 12 – HOU 10, SEA 5
- Friday, April 14 – HOU 7, OAK 2
- Saturday, April 15 – HOU 10, OAK 6
- Sunday, April 16 – Postponed
Comebacks. They’ve got to be the most exciting thing in sports if the team you’re rooting for is the one executing it. One thing I’ve learned about the Astros in recent years is that it’s hard to ever count them out. I’m not sure what the deficit has to be for them to give up on a game (spoiler alert: it’s not five), but whatever it is, it must be high.
Before we get to that though, let’s talk about Monday’s game. We were fresh off a homestand where the Astros got by on solid pitching and just enough offense. Naturally, I was somewhat worried about how the offense would do on the road since they hadn’t quite shown their full potential in the comfort of Minute Maid Park. In Monday’s game, the Astros struggled on offense, allowing their first shutout of the season. As a side note, James Paxton looks strong for the Mariners giving up no runs through his 21 innings so far. Still, this stacked offense shouldn’t be getting shutout. Luckily, there were good things to come.
Tuesday’s game was much more entertaining as an Astros fan. Springer gave the Astros the lead straight away with yet another lead-off home run off the first pitch of the game. They actually managed to get runs on the board that weren’t home runs later in the game with RBIs from Altuve, Gattis, Bregman, and Beltran. They ended up with seven runs on fourteen hits, their best offensive game to that point. The offense offered fans like me a big sigh of relief knowing that they were at least capable and interested in getting something going.
That sigh of relief didn’t last long thanks to the first few innings of Wednesday’s game. The bad Fiers we saw a lot of last year showed up in Seattle, allowing the Mariners to score five runs in his short four-inning start. I started debating turning off the game, but I figured I’d at least keep it on in case they brought Devenski in to pitch some innings since he’s worth watching. Instead, we got a combination of the rest of the bullpen. After being down 5-0 and having only one hit through the first three innings, the Astros bats came back to life putting up ten runs and getting fifteen hits to complete the comeback. It was a game worth staying up for.
The team got their first off day Thursday before starting a series with the A’s on Friday. The comeback Wednesday was fantastic, but games like Friday are more of what you want from this team on a daily basis. Keuchel threw another dominant start, giving up just one run via a solo home run by Khris Davis. Keuchel went seven innings again and gave up just four hits. The offense did what we expect them to: they scored runs throughout the game off of good hitting and good baserunning in optimal situations. They cruised to the 7-2 win.
Saturday’s game was another rollercoaster. McCuller’s had a bad start and gave up five runs off eight hits, two of which were homers, managing to only get through four and one-third innings. Here we go again, another 5-0 deficit. I wasn’t going to turn off the game, but in the back of my mind, I had accepted that this game was going to be a throwaway game. The A’s must’ve thought the same because they totally shut down starting in the sixth inning. After dominating the Astros for five hitless innings, Manaea loads the bases on walks, then the A’s error twice on one infield hit allowing the Astros to score two runs. That’s right, the Astros had 2 runs on the board with no hits. They added two more runs in the seventh, four in the eighth, and two in the ninth and stole the game 10-6. McCuller’s had to be grateful to get bailed out like that. Hopefully this was just one hiccup game for him and he comes back strong in his next start.
We had the biggest scare so far this season during Saturday’s game. Correa took a fastball straight into his hand, and it didn’t look good. Luckily it turned out to be minor with the X-rays coming back negative, and it sounds like he’s ready to get back on the field as early as Monday against the Angels.
All in all, a good week for the Astros, but they had to work a lot harder for it than they would’ve liked. Keuchel continues to be the dependable ace, McCuller’s has to put the bad start behind him, and the rest of the rotation can’t keep putting the team in holes and expect the offense to bail them out. You can’t knock an offense that put up 34 runs in four games, but it would be nice to see them start games with the offense clicking instead of getting hot later. They are sitting on top of the AL West with one of the best records in the MLB so far, and already have more wins this April (8) than all of last April (7). They need to keep it going this week and make sure not to take the foot off the gas.
This Week’s Schedule
- Mon-Thu: Angels (6-7) @ Astros (8-4)
- Fri-Sun: Astros (8-4) @ Rays (6-7)
MVP of the week – Jose Altuve: The dude got on base in eleven consecutive plate appearances. Enough said. The record is 17, in case you’re curious. I predicted it last week, I said don’t be surprised if Altuve gets out of his slump on this road trip and sparks the offense. In fairness, it wasn’t that bold of a take, Altuve was bound to get on track at some point. I can’t contribute the big offensive spark to Altuve alone, but he sure kept the train rolling.