By CHRIS CAMPISE
Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|MON May 29th||HOU 16||MIN 8||Peacock v. Santana|
|TUE May 30th||HOU 7||MIN 2||Fiers v. Berrios|
|WED May 31st||HOU 17||MIN 6||Paulino v. Santiago|
|FRI Jun 2nd||HOU 7||TEX 1||Keuchel v. Darvish|
|SAT Jun 3rd||HOU 6||TEX 5||McCullers v. Cashner|
|SUN Jun 4th||HOU 7||TEX 2||Peacock v. Perez|
Is there any deficit this team can’t erase? According to Monday’s game, it must have to be more than six runs. Peacock got the start in place of Morton who is on the DL. He looked good early, giving up just one hit through the first four innings. Thanks to a Correa homer and then an error and wild pitch to score Beltran in the fourth, the Astros had a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth, which is when the Twins’ bats got hot. The Twins took the 3-2 lead after a RBI triple from Polanco, passed ball, and Dozier RBI single, ending Peacock’s day. Jankowski came in, but couldn’t stop the momentum allowing the Twins to score four more runs on a Grossman double, Mauer single, and Sanó homer. Grossman homered in the bottom of the seventh, extending the Twins’ lead to 8-2. With the six-run lead, you’d think the game was over, but you’d be wrong. The Astros went on to score eleven, yes ELEVEN runs in the top of the eighth, then scored three more in the ninth, turning a six-run deficit into an eight-run win. Springer, Reddick, Altuve, Correa, Beltran, Gonzalez, Bregman, and Gattis all notched RBIs in the amazing comeback win.
Tuesday’s game was also a comeback, but a little less dramatic. Fiers got the start, and it was openly stated that he was playing for his job. It didn’t look promising early; the Twins took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first off of a bases-loaded walk to Roasario then an infield single by Buxton. Luckily for Fiers he was able to limit the damage to those two runs and actually put together a respectable game of six innings with two runs off of five hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts. The Astros trimmed the lead to one in the third thanks to a sac-fly by Bregman, then tied it in the fourth with Altuve scoring on a double play ball by McCann. The Astros went on to win the game 7-2 thanks to a two-RBI single from Altuve, a RBI from Correa, a run scored on an error, and a solo home run from Bregman.
The Astros completed the sweep of the Twins on Wednesday in dominating fashion. The Astros got started fast thanks to a two-run homer from Correa in the top of the first. They added two more with RBI singles from Correa and Gattis in the third. The Twins mounted some offense of their own with a homer from Dozier in the third and a RBI single from Rosario in the fourth but were never able to take the lead. Springer made it 5-2 with a solo shot in the fifth, then Bregman had one of his own in the sixth. The Twins got within a run in the sixth with a solo home run from Rosario then a two-run shot from Castro (I told you guys he would do something against his old team), making it 6-5. That would be as close as the Twins would get, because the Astros busted it open in the seventh piling on six runs thanks to an absolute blast of a homer from Springer and RBIs from Gattis, Gurriel, Bregman, and Aoki. They weren’t satisfied with the six-run lead evidently, so they added on three more in the eighth off of a Gattis homer and Marisnick RBI followed by an error, then two more off a Gonzalez home run in the ninth, bringing the final score to 17-6. On the pitching side, Paulino got the start for Musgrove who was placed on the DL with shoulder soreness. He went four innings giving up two runs and striking out eight.
After the decimation of the Twins, the Astros headed to Arlington for the weekend series. I was worried this was going to be a trap series for the Astros, but they proved me wrong. Friday night we got Keuchel vs. Yu Darvish which was expected to be a pitcher’s duel, and it was until the fifth inning. In the top of the fifth Correa continued his crazy tear he’s been on, giving the Astros a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer. They added four more runs in the top of the eighth with a RBI double by Gurriel and a three-run blast from Springer, making it 7-0. Keuchel had another dominant start, going six innings with just three hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Devenski and Harris pitched a hitless seventh and eighth, and Giles came in for the close giving up the Rangers one run on a solo home run from Beltre, making the final score 7-1. It was a great way to keep the momentum going and keep setting the tone that this is not the same Astros team from last year.
McCullers got the start on Saturday and had a rough start after being named pitcher of the month for May. He gave up a run in the first on a RBI single from Andrus, then got into trouble in the fifth. After a walk to start the inning then a rare error by Correa, the Rangers had two on base with no outs. Rua advanced to third on a sac-fly from Choo, then Andrus got the best of McCullers again with a two-RBI double. That was followed by a walk to Mazara and a RBI single from Beltre, ending McCullers day. Devenski came in to get two strikeouts to end the fifth. Luckily for the Astros, they had run support to keep the lead despite that bad fifth inning. Beltran had a solo homer in the second, then in the third, the Astros added four runs with a RBI single from Correa, a two-RBI single from Beltran, and a score on a wild pitch from Cashner. The score stayed 5-4 until the ninth inning when Altuve added an insurance run with a solo home run, which proved to be big. Giles came in for the save but got into a little trouble of his own. With one out he walked Andrus, who stole second then came across with a two-out RBI single from Beltre, making it a one-run game. Giles kept his composure and struck out Odor to seal the 6-5 win.
The Astros were playing for their tenth straight win on Sunday, and they got it once again thanks to their hot bats. The Astros scored runs in all of the first five innings thanks to two home runs and a RBI single from Springer, a home run and RBI sac-fly from Gurriel, a home run from Correa, and an RBI double from Beltran, giving the Astros a 7-0 lead through five innings. The Rangers tried to get back in it with a solo home run from Odor in the fifth and a RBI single from Gallo in the sixth, but that would be the only two runs they would get. Peacock had another good start, this time going a respectable six innings, giving up the Rangers two runs on four hits while striking out nine. He still got a little dinged up later in the start, but it was promising to see him go six innings. The bullpen combination of Sipp, Feliz, and Gregerson finished out the 7-2 win and the sweep of the Rangers in their own place.
6-0, the perfect week. Ten straight wins, and 12-1 in their last thirteen games since being swept by the Indians in mid-May. People are running out of superlatives for this team, and rightly so. We all know that the biggest flaw in this team is the 3-5 spots in the rotation, but they continue to show that with this offense, they can bail anyone out. Besides, they could go out and get a good arm before the deadline, as Neal talks about in today’s update. These guys turned a six-run deficit in the eighth inning into an eight-run win, something for the history books. They went on to outscore the Twins 40-16 in that series with Peacock, Fiers, and Paulino as the starters. The sky is the limit for this team, and it’s getting more and more exciting to watch them continue to catch their stride. They are twenty-five games over .500 and have a 13.5 game AL West lead, and it’s only the beginning of June. They are the best team in baseball, and I’m not sure it’s even debatable at this point.
Co-MVPs of the week – George Springer & Carlos Correa: I feel like at some point this season I’m going to just have to find a team picture so that I can make the whole team the MVP of the week. Nonetheless, I had to narrow it down to Springer and Correa as the guys I’m going to shout out this week. When the season started, I sided with the other skeptics that were worried about having Springer leadoff. Is he really that good of a hitter? The answer this year has been a resounding yes. As far as Correa, he continues to show that he is going to be a star for many years to come. Springer and Correa combined for nine homers and twenty-one RBIs this week.
This Week’s Schedule
- Mon-Thu: Astros (41-16) @ Royals (24-31)
- Fri-Sun: Angels (29-31) @ Astros (41-16))
The Astros get seven games against sub-.500 teams this week. Morton and Musgrove remain on the DL so we could end up getting a double dose of Fiers and Paulino this week unless Musgrove is ready to go by Sunday. In any case, the Astros have to be careful not to slack against these struggling teams and lose momentum. I’m not asking for a 7-0 sweep, but they need to win both series, especially against the Angels to keep the AL West out of arm’s reach.