Editors Note: Chris is a southeast Texas native that has followed Houston sports for most of his life. His main hobbies are drinking good beer or whiskey, watching and betting sports, and being a family man. You can follow him on twitter @ChrisCampise
By CHRIS CAMPISE
Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|MON April 17||LAA 0||HOU 3||Chavez v. Morton|
|TUE April 18||LAA 5||HOU 2||Nolasco v. Musgrove|
|WED April 19||LAA 1||HOU 5||Ramirez v. Keuchel|
|THU April 20||LAA 1||HOU 2||Shoemaker v. McCullers|
|FRI April 21||HOU 6||TB 3||Fiers v. Cobb|
|SAT April 22||HOU 3||TB 6||Morton v. Snell|
|SUN April 23||HOU 6||TB 4||Musgrove v. Andriese|
The four-game series against the Angels started on Monday night with the Astros shutting out the Angels and winning 3-0. The shutout didn’t come easy, though. Although ultimately it was a good start from Morton, he had runners in scoring position in four of the five innings he pitched. He managed to get away unscathed before giving way to the bullpen which threw four hitless innings. Altuve was responsible for two of the three runs with a sacrifice fly in the third and a double in the eighth.
Tuesday’s game was like a flashback to the old rivalry between the Cardinals and Astros in the National League. The Astros were looking fine and in the game, then Albert Pujols rips out the hearts of all the kids in Minute Maid Park and laughs at their crying as he trots around the bases after a homer. Okay, maybe it didn’t happen like that, but Pujols was the difference maker in this one with his three-run home run that put the Angels up 5-2 which ended up being the final score. I can’t think of another player that has so much success against a specific team like Pujols does against the Astros. Kershaw could run out to the mound in an Astros uniform and Pujols would find a way to beat him.
On that note, Wednesday’s game was extremely satisfying. Watching Pujols strike out swinging at the hands of Keuchel was slightly satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against Pujols, I just know he’s always ready to come up big against the Astros, so the strikeouts are sweet little victories. Keuchel threw another solid start, going seven innings and giving up the Angel’s one run. Offensively it was a good game with RBIs from Altuve, Gattis, Gurriel, and a two-run homer from Reddick.
McCullers had the bounce back game on Thursday we hoped to see after his shaky start in his last game. McCullers went six and two-thirds innings giving up 3 hits, 3 walks and striking out 8. It was the type of game from McCullers we want to become a regularity, and he has the potential to do that. Devenski pitched the rest of the game and showed he was, in fact, human in the ninth inning after allowing a solo homer to Trout and a few more hits before eventually closing out the save. The offense consisted of solo home runs from Marisnick and Beltran, his first since rejoining the Astros.
Friday’s game was the first of three in Tampa Bay, where the Astros hadn’t won a series since 2008. It looked like bad Mike Fiers made the trip as he gave up a solo home run in each of the first three innings. He managed to get through the fifth without any more damage and left with the game in a 3-3 tie thanks to a Beltran solo home run and the bottom of the lineup stringing together hits for two more runs in the fourth. The bullpen shined again giving up just one hit in four innings while the offense broke the tie in the seventh and tacked on two more in the ninth for a 6-3 win.
Charlie Morton wasn’t able to get out of the jams on Saturday like he had on Monday against the Angels. The Rays were able to get five runs on eight hits from Morton before he eventually left in the sixth. Harris wasn’t able to deal with the mess, allowing two of Morton’s runs across and one of his own in his worst relief appearance this year. The high points of Houston’s offense were solo home runs from Gattis and Altuve, firsts of the season for both of them. To make things worse, Springer grabbed at his hamstring running to first during the game and left the game. He’s listed day-to-day and reports are it’s just a cramp. Hopefully he’s back in the lineup Tuesday in Cleveland.
I was really hopeful for a solid start from Musgrove going into Sunday’s game. He looks like a kid that once he irons out the wrinkles in his game and reliably hits his spots could be a solid starter. Musgrove had an abysmal first inning, giving up four two-out runs including a two-run homer. To his credit, after that inning he was lights out, throwing 5 hitless innings to get through the sixth. Hopefully the Astros get more of that Musgrove going forward. So the Astros were down 4-0 after one inning. Is there a nickname for Astros comebacks? If not, there should be. Correa hit a two-run home run in the third to end his slump, then Altuve hit a solo dinger in the fifth. It stayed 4-3 until the ninth where Gurriel came across as the tying run off a Gattis sac fly. We went into the tenth and it only took one inning for the Astros to complete the comeback, with McCann scoring Beltran (take that, Yankees!) on a go-ahead single, followed by an insurance run off a Gurriel single. Giles got the save to end another great performance from the bullpen.
The Astros went 5-2 for the week and are tied with the Rockies and Nationals for the league-leading win total of 13. They sit atop the AL West with a three-game lead over the As who they will face this upcoming weekend. The offense is still catching their stride but continue to come through to win games. Keuchel and McCullers had two fantastic starts and will have to keep those coming. The rest of the rotation continues to put the team in holes that the offense has to try and bail them out of, and that can’t keep going or this team will burn out. They have to step it up and soon. The bullpen needs to keep doing what it’s doing. On that note…
MVPs of the week – The Bullpen: The Astros bullpen should be talked about as one of the best in the league to this point. In the seven games this week, the bullpen combined for twenty-three and one-third innings giving up just two earned runs on 9 hits.
This Week’s Schedule
- Tue-Thu: Astros (13-6) @ Indians (10-8)
- Fri-Sun: As (10-9) @ Astros (13-6)
The Astros will travel to Cleveland for a potential playoff series preview against the Indians. I’m excited about this series. The Astros need to win this series, and they should since they’ll have their 1-2-3 (if they go back to Morton in the third slot) in the rotation against the Indian’s 4-5-1. Then the Astros come back to Minute Maid to host the As for a three-game set that could be for the AL West lead depending on how things go earlier in the week.