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:
|TUE May 9||ATL 3||HOU 8||Colon v. Morton|
|WED May 10th||ATL 2||HOU 4||Garcia v. Musgrove|
|THU May 11th||HOU 3||NYY 2||Keuchel v. Pineda|
|FRI May 12th||HOU 5||NYY 1||McCullers v. Montgomery|
|SUN May 14th (Game 1)||HOU 6||NYY 11||Fiers v. Severino|
|SUN May 14th (Game 2)||HOU 10||NYY 7||Morton v. Tanaka|
I went in to the week expecting the Astros to capitalize on the struggling Braves, and Tuesday night they did just that. They jumped all over Barolo Colon in the first inning, putting up five runs on five hits including home runs from Correa and Beltran to get out to a big lead early. Morton pitched five strong shutout innings then gave up three runs in the sixth before being relieved. The Astros added three runs to their lead with a home run from Reddick in the fifth and RBIs from Bregman and Aoki in the sixth on their way to the 8-3 win.
The game on Wednesday afternoon wasn’t as easy for the Astros. They started the scoring in the third inning with a RBI double from Springer but gave up the lead when the Braves hit two solo homers off Musgrove in the top of the fourth. Luckily, Musgrove was able to limit the damage to those two runs and pitched through the sixth inning before giving way to the bullpen. The Astros regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth with a huge two-out, two-RBI double from Correa, then a RBI single from Gurriel, putting the Astros up 4-2, which ended up being the final score thanks to three scoreless innings from Gregerson, Harris, and Giles.
After the mini-sweep of the Braves, the Astros headed to New York for a showdown with the red-hot Yankees. They opened the series with Keuchel on the mound, and he started his night with a 2-0 lead thanks to a two-run blast from Correa in the top of the first off of Pineda. They added another run to make it 3-0 in the fifth off a RBI single from Springer. Keuchel pitched another solid game, though against the stout Yankee offense only got through six innings. He struck out nine along the way, matching his season-high for a game. The Yankees scored a run in the bottom of the fifth when catcher’s interference was called with the bases loaded. The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Sanchez hit a dribbler to left-center with runners on second and third. Hicks scored easily from third but Jake Marisnick made a spectacular throw to deny the tying run at home, sealing the win 3-2.
Let me start the recap of Friday night’s game by saying this: McCullers is the real deal. He had some rough road starts to start the season, but I have full confidence in him now. He blanked the Yankees over six innings, giving up just four hits and struck out seven. The Astros put up five runs, three of which came from a home run from McCann in his old stomping grounds. The other two runs were RBI singles from Correa and Reddick (yes, there were woo-birds sighted in Yankee stadium). The Yankees one run came off a two-out RBI single from Gregorious off of Hoyt who was put in with the five-run lead in the ninth to preserve Giles. The 5-1 win put the Astros up 2-0 on the series, meaning at worst they would split, which was all I could ask for going in.
Saturday’s game was rained out and moved to the first part of a double-header on Sunday since they were already slated for the Sunday night slot. The early game was a slugfest with the teams combining for seventeen runs. The Yankees went up 1-0 in the bottom of the first with a RBI groundout from Holliday. The Astros took the lead in the top of the third with back-to-back-to-back RBI singles from Correa, Gattis, and Gonzalez. Fiers added two more home runs to his season total in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run shot from Castro and a solo shot from Judge to put the Yanks up 4-3. It stayed that way until the top of the seventh when the Astros took a 6-4 lead with three RBIs from Gattis, Gonzalez, and Gurriel. Unfortunately, the Yankees potent offense was too much for Harris and Devenski who combined to give up six runs in the bottom of the seventh inning while only recording two outs. Sipp got the final out of the seventh but gave up a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth putting the Yankees up 11-6 which was the final score.
Under the big, primetime lights on Sunday night, and on the night the Yankees retired Derek Jeter’s number 2, the Astros showed the world that they deserve to be talked about. The Astros absolutely demolished Tanaka in the top of the first with back-to-back solo homers from Springer and Reddick, then blew the doors off thanks to a grand slam by the Astros’ own number 2, Alex Bregman. After the huge six-run first, the Astros tacked on four more runs during the game with another Springer Dinger in the second, a RBI double from Beltran in the third, a RBI sac-fly from Correa in the fourth, and then a run by Gonzalez off a passed ball in the ninth. Morton pitched a dominant game early, but for the second game in a row got beat up when he got to a high pitch count. The Yankees scored four off of Morton in the bottom of the fifth, then got two more in the bottom of the ninth off Dayan Diaz who was called up on Sunday as the extra player for the doubleheader. Giles came in for the final out and ended up giving up a run himself, but the Astros ultimately escaped with the win, 10-7.
Overall: The Astros went 5-1 on the week, which when you consider a four-game series against the Yankees was part of that, shows that this team is as good as anyone right now. They have the best record in the MLB at 26-12 and continue to show that no opponent’s lead is safe. Morton is becoming a more reliable part of the rotation but has to clean up the slips he has later in his pitch counts. Musgrove needs some good games to build his confidence because the potential is there. I think I’ve said enough about Fiers in recent weeks (please, just one game without giving up a home run, that’s all I want right now). The offense, well, what can you say that hasn’t been said? Their lineup is so stacked that it’s a struggle for Hinch to decide on a lineup every day. That’s a great problem to have. Hopefully, that results in a team that can be consistent throughout the year and not one that burns out towards the end.
MVP of the week – Carlos Correa: I have to admit, I was foolishly worried about Correa after his early struggles at the plate. Correa drove in runs in every game this week, going 10 for 22 and racking up ten RBIs and four walks. He came through in big moments at the plate and continues to be a major defensive force. Correa is quite simply an elite player, and the Astros need to take advantage of his time while they have him. Neal has some great comparisons of Correa and Derek Jeter in today’s update.
This Week’s Schedule
- Mon-Wed: Astros (26-12) @ Marlins (14-22)
- Fri-Sun: Indians (19-17) @ Astros (26-12)
Much like last week against the Braves, the Astros need to keep the momentum going against sub-500 teams. They have three games at the Marlins, with Keuchel and McCullers up on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. They can’t afford to lose a series like this during the year, especially when the Rangers are heating up and on a six-game winning streak. After the Marlins, the Astros come home for an extended homestand kicking off with a three-game series against the Indians.