Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|TUE July 4th||HOU 16||ATL 4||Peacock v. Newcomb|
|WED July 5th||HOU 10||ATL 4||Musgrove v. Garcia|
|THU July 6th||HOU 4||TOR 7||McCullers v. Liriano|
|FRI July 7th||HOU 12||TOR 2||Morton v. Sanchez|
|SAT July 8th||HOU 2||TOR 7||Fiers v. Stroman|
|SUN July 9th||HOU 19||TOR 1||Peacock v. Happ|
The Astros started the week with a rout of the Braves 16-4. There was steady offense throughout with the Astros scoring runs in six of the nine innings, including home runs from Springer, Altuve, and a grand slam to cap things off in the ninth by Reddick. Reddick, Gurriel, and Altuve each had four RBIs, with Altuve arguably deserving a fifth on a double in the fifth but had it stolen when Springer was thrown out at home after pushing Peacock around the bases trying to score. Speaking of Peacock, he started the game and did a decent job, though he did give up three of the Braves’ four runs in the seventh, however, with a 12-0 lead at the time, it didn’t seem that impactful. Tolliver, Feliz, and Hoyt finished the final three innings with Feliz giving up the fourth and final Braves run in the eighth.
Trying to manage the rotation before the all-star break, the Astros called Musgrove back up to pitch in Atlanta on Wednesday. He looked really impressive early, giving up just one hit in the first four innings, during which the Astros had accumulated a 4-0 lead thanks to RBIs from Gattis, Springer, and Reddick. Musgrove ran into trouble in the fifth, allowing the Braves to tie the game 4-4 on a two-RBI single from the pitcher, Garcia, followed by a two-run homer to Inciarte. Musgrove came back out for two-thirds of the sixth and notched those two outs before giving way to the bullpen. The Astros regained the lead in the top of the seventh with RBIs from Springer, Altuve, and Gonzalez to make it 7-4. They added three more insurance runs to extend the lead to 10-4 in the eighth with a RBI double from Reddick and more RBIs for Gonzalez on a two-run double. 10-4 was the final thanks to three and one-thirds innings of shutout baseball from Devenski, Harris, and Sipp.
The Astros must’ve been dealing with jet lag on Thursday because they absolutely appeared to be sleepwalking through the game in Toronto to start the series with the Blue Jays. McCullers was on the mound and had a rare bad outing, giving up five earned runs in his short four and one-third inning appearance. His worst inning was the fifth where he gave up a two-RBI double to Donaldson, a RBI double to Morales, and a RBI single to Tulowitzki, who would come in to score on a Goins double later in the inning after Feliz took over. The Astros had two errors in the game and overall just looked sloppy on defense, which is rare considering the defensive talent this team has. The Astros’ offense consisted of two RBI singles from Altuve and solo homers from Gonzalez and Beltran. Toronto went on to win 7-4.
The Astros must’ve slept things off and got back into their groove because Friday’s game looked much more like the games we are accustomed to seeing from this team. Morton got his first start back from the DL and looked great in his return. He gave up just one run in his six innings which was a solo home run from Tulowitzki in the fifth. The second and last run for the Blue Jays came off a solo home run from Carrera in the ninth off Martes who has been moved to the bullpen for the time being. It was another game where the Astros strung together runs throughout the game, including home runs from Correa and Gattis and two by Springer on their way to the 12-2 victory.
Toronto answered back with a 7-2 win on Saturday, holding the Astros, who average over seven runs a game on the road, to just two runs. This was in large part due to an incredible start from Stroman, who gave up just one run to the Astros on six hits in his seven innings which was a RBI double to Springer in the third. Opposite of Stroman was Fiers who was equally as strong early but fell off in the fifth. Fiers hit a batter then gave up a single before ending his no-homer streak when Donaldson hit a three-run blast to give Toronto a 3-1 lead. Fiers rebounded from that and finished the fifth and sixth innings, but would not get the run support to bail him out. Devenski came in for the bottom of the seventh and was not his usual self, giving up another four runs to the Blue Jays on a RBI double to Smoak and a three-run homer to Tulowitzki. The Astros’ second run was a solo home run from Gonzalez in the ninth before the Blue Jays ended the 7-2 loss.
After the loss on Saturday, I tweeted out that although the Astros had plenty of success to hang their hat on so far, getting that 60th win before the break could be a big momentum builder for the second half. The Astros seemed to agree with that because they left no doubt that they wanted to win the game. The offense absolutely pummeled Toronto’s pitching staff, who sent out seven pitchers before it was all said and done. I won’t go into all the scores, but the Astros put up nineteen, yes NINETEEN, runs including homers from Gurriel, Altuve, Gattis, and two by Correa, who lead the team with five RBIs in the game. Peacock had a good start, going six strong innings giving up just five hits. Hoyt and Martes finished the game, with Toronto avoiding the shutout thanks to a Carrera solo homer off Martes in the ninth, but came up just a little bit short of the comeback. All in all, the Astros made a 19-1 statement that they don’t plan to limp into the playoffs or slow down anytime soon.
Another 4-2 week for the Astros, bringing their record at the break to 60-29 which is just a half-game back from the league-leading Dodgers at 61-29 who took over the league’s best record earlier this week as a result of their current six-game winning streak. The Astros have a promising road ahead; they had Morton return from the DL with a solid game, and Musgrove returned to the rotation. McCullers will rebound from his bad start, and the key piece to the rotation, Keuchel, threw pitches from the mound prior to yesterday’s game with no setbacks, meaning he could be returning soon. I would still like to see them trade for another efficient starter, because even though Keuchel is coming back, there are still questions at the back end of the rotation such as Morton’s durability and if Musgrove has truly improved enough to belong back in the rotation. The offense is clicking and ready to go all the way, they just need pitchers on the other side to keep opponents out of reach.
MVP of the Week – George Springer: It was a close race between Springer and Correa, but I had to give the edge to Springer this week. Springer continued his monster year by going 15 for 26 for a .577 average, hitting three home runs, three doubles, and notching nine RBIs. In two games he was a triple shy of the cycle, and he also had his fourth game of the season with multiple home runs. Simply put, the guy is having an all-star year.
This Week’s Schedule
- TUE: MLB All-Star Game
- FRI-SUN: Twins (45-43) @ Astros (60-29)
The all-star break is upon us. The good news is unlike recent years where there was just Altuve to cheer for offensively, this year we’ll get to see him along with Correa and Springer. It should be fun to watch, and those guys are definitely all-stars this year. Keuchel and McCullers also made the team, but with Keuchel yet to return from his neck injury, he’ll sit out. Devenski was named a replacement so it will be fun to see a couple of Astros pitchers in the mix. After the break, the Astros start the second “half” of the season with a weekend series at home versus the Twins. It will be a good chance for them to pick up the momentum they ended the first half with to start the playoff push.