By CHRIS CAMPISE
Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|MON June 19th||HOU 4||OAK 1||Peacock v. Gossett|
|TUE June 20th||HOU 8||OAK 4||Martes v. Gray|
|WED June 21st||HOU 5||OAK 1||Fiers v. Manaea|
|THU June 22nd||HOU 12||OAK 9||Paulino v. Hahn|
|FRI June 23rd||HOU 3||SEA 13||Musgrove v. Hernandez|
|SAT June 24th||HOU 5||SEA 2||McCullers v. Gaviglio|
|SUN June 25th||HOU 8||SEA 2||Martes v. Miranda|
The Astros had a quick turnaround traveling to Oakland for the game Monday night after the Sunday night game against the Red Sox in Houston. They showed no signs of it though, getting a strong start from Peacock and getting a few home runs to start the week with a 4-1 win. Peacock looked great, especially through the first five innings where he gave up just two hits. He got into some trouble in the sixth, putting two on base before giving up a double to Lowrie which nearly scored both runners but the Astros got a great relay throw from Springer to Correa to get Pinder out at home. Harris came in to finish the sixth and pitched the seventh, followed by innings from Devenski and Giles to close things out and limit the A’s to just one run. The Astros got homers from Marisnick, Springer, and Fisher in the win.
Things continued going the Astros’ way on Tuesday night as they got the best of Sonny Gray early. They put up five runs in the first inning thanks to another leadoff home run from Springer and RBIs from McCann, Gurriel, and Bregman. Martes had a mediocre start, allowing three runs on six hits in his five and two-thirds innings of work. Feliz came in to pitch in the seventh and allowed the A’s to get within a run off of a RBI single from Brugman to make it a 5-4 game. That would be as close as they would get, however, thanks to a two-RBI single from Correa in the eighth and a solo home run from Beltran in the ninth along with scoreless innings from Gregerson and Diaz to make the final score 8-4.
Interim ace Mike Fiers continued his trend of successful starts on Wednesday, pitching six great innings including five strikeouts and three double play balls. He had a good pitch count and came out for the seventh inning, but was pulled after giving up a double and a walk. Fiers would get charged with the A’s only run of the night after Sipp and Gregerson combined to finish the seventh but not before allowing Alonso to advance to third and score on a couple of groundouts. All of the Astros’ offense came late in the game as well, with RBIs from Gattis and Marisnick in the sixth, a sac-fly from Marisnick in the eighth, and a solo home run from Correa in the ninth. Harris and Giles pitched the eighth and ninth respectively to end the 5-1 victory.
The final score from Thursday’s game is a bit misleading because the Astros jumped out to a huge lead early and never looked back in the 12-9 win. After getting two sac-flys in the first, the Astros poured it on in the second including three-run homers from Marisnick and Gonzalez on their way to an eight-run inning to make it 10-0. Paulino pitched a decent game, holding the A’s scoreless until the fifth inning where they got a run to make it 10-1. Reddick made it 11-1 in the top of the sixth with a solo home run before the A’s scored a few more runs in the bottom of the inning as Paulino struggled with a high pitch count to make it 11-3. Correa added the twelfth run in the top of the eighth with a sac fly before things got significantly more interesting in the bottom of the eighth. The combination of Diaz and Feliz nearly completed the monumental task of blowing a nine-run lead as they screwed around and gave up six runs while notching three outs. Determined to end the madness, Hinch put in Devenski for the ninth who got three consecutive strikeouts to end the game.
The Astros found themselves on the receiving end of a blowout on Friday in the series opener in Seattle against the Mariners. It was in large part due to a horrible start from Musgrove, who allowed the Mariners to put up nine runs on twelve hits before he could even finish the fourth inning. Hoyt looked just as bad, giving up three runs on wild pitches in the bottom of the seventh before the Mariners got their thirteenth and final run of the night in the bottom of the eighth on a rare error by Altuve. The Astros’ three futile runs came on a solo homer from Altuve in the first, a RBI single from Gonzalez in the fourth, and a solo home run from Bregman in the fifth.
The Astros were able to erase the sting of the night before quickly thanks to the return of Lance McCullers on Saturday. Mccullers looked like he had never missed a beat as he went on to pitch five strong innings on a limited pitch count. He struck out eight in his return but did get charged a run, which came after Harris relieved him in the sixth and inherited his runners on first and third with no outs. The Astros’ had a 2-1 lead at that point thanks to a two-run blast from Reddick in the third. They added three more runs in the seventh when McCann hit a nearly-caught double to clear the loaded bases. After strong bullpen work before him, Giles came on in the ninth and nearly blew the game by giving up three consecutive two-out walks which resulted in a run and left the bases loaded before finally getting a strikeout to finish the 5-2 game.
Sunday’s game turned out to be another showcase of the Astros’ offense, though it started off looking pretty bleak. Martes struggled mightily to start the game and had no control of the ball. He threw 31 pitches and walked three in the first inning, then loaded the bases in the second after a walk, single, and a hit-by-pitch. With two outs Cano cleared the bases, yet somehow the third run was called out at home even though it looked fairly clear he was safe. That would end Martes’ day as Hinch had seen enough and went to the bullpen to finish the remaining seven innings. After going down 2-0 the Astros offense got hot and ended the day with eight runs thanks to home runs from Springer and Gurriel and RBIs from Correa, Gattis, Reddick, and Altuve. The bullpen did great in their extended outing with Feliz, Devenski, Harris, and Gregerson providing seven scoreless innings to lock up the 8-2 win.
The Astros continued their success on the road, going 6-1 on the week to keep the league’s best record and their dominant lead over the rest of the AL West. The offense was hot on the road and had to be to bail out some of the poor pitching performances they saw from Musgrove and Martes. After the bad starts from Musgrove since coming off the DL, the Astros have moved him down to Triple-A, and I’m sure Martes must be on a short leash after Sunday’s game as well. They have Fiers and Peacock pitching well, and McCullers is back. There haven’t been official updates on Keuchel so at this point we just have to hope that when he does return, he’s good to go the rest of the season. The glaring need of a solid starting pitcher or two remains, and if they can’t keep the rotation healthy or get good starts from these second-string guys, it needs to happen sooner rather than later. Could you imagine how good this team would be if they had one or two more reliable arms to go with the potent offense?
MVP of the Week – George Springer: They may have all been solo shots, but Springer’s three dingers this week kept the offense hot and kept him in first place on the team and second in the AL for home runs. Who knows if this is the level he will continue to play at for years to come or if it’s just him feeding off the momentum of the rest of the team, but Springer, in my opinion, is an all-star this year and deserves his spot in the game.
This Week’s Schedule
- Tue-Thu: A’s (34-42) @ Astros (52-25)
- Fri-Sun: Yankees (40-33) @ Astros (52-25)
The Astros get the day off today before starting this week’s homestand. They’ll get another three-game set against the A’s to hopefully continue their dominance against them. After taking three of four in New York earlier this year, the Yankees will come to Houston for a three-game series this weekend in a battle of division leaders. The Astros have not been as good at home recently as on the road so this week would be a good week for them to change that to keep building their momentum into the all-star break.