Last Week’s Scoreboard:
|MON August 14th||HOU 0||ARI 2||McHugh v. Greinke|
|TUE August 15th||HOU 9||ARI 4||Peacock v. Banda|
|WED August 16th||ARI 5||HOU 9||Walker v. Morton|
|THU August 17th||ARI 4||HOU 0||Corbin v. Fiers|
|FRI August 18th||OAK 1||HOU 3||Manaea v. Keuchel|
|SAT August 19th||OAK 0||HOU 3||Graveman v. McHugh|
|SUN August 20th||OAK 3||HOU 2||Cotton v. Peacock|
The Astros started the week with a 2-0 loss in Arizona on Monday. McHugh started and actually had a decent game, giving up just two runs on six hits while striking out six, but would end up with the loss as a result of the Astros offense being unable to do anything against Greinke on the other side. Greinke had a terrific night for the Diamondbacks, going six and two-third innings during which he blanked the Astros on five hits while striking out nine. The bullpen for the Diamondbacks was also lights-out, finishing the remaining two and a third innings without allowing a hit to the Astros’ potent offense.
The Astros’ offense would come awake on Tuesday, however, on their way to a 9-4 win. It started with a huge five-run second inning highlighted by a RBI double from Stassi, two-RBI double from Springer, and RBI triple from Bregman, who came across as the fifth run on a wild pitch. You know the offense is clicking when your pitcher gets in on the action, which Peacock did in the third with a two-RBI double of his own to make it 7-0. They added one more in the fourth on a Gurriel triple making it 8-0 before the Diamondbacks would add a few runs of their own. Peacock was doing great early in the game, but maybe the excitement of the double or the large lead got to him which allowed the Diamondbacks to cut the lead in half after putting up four runs across the fourth and fifth innings to make it 8-4. The Astros’ bullpen answered the call, though, and threw the final four and a third innings while allowing just one hit. Stassi added a final insurance run in the top of the ninth which sent the Astros on to the 9-4 final.
The Astros and Diamondbacks headed to Houston to play the second half of the series starting on Wednesday. Morton had a good start, giving up just one run on three hits and striking out an impressive nine during his six and one-third innings of work. He left with a 5-1 lead thanks to a solo home run from Beltran in the second, a RBI walk from Gonzalez and sac fly from Beltran in the third, and RBIs from Reddick and Gurriel in the fourth. Gregerson tried to blow the game in the eighth, allowing the Diamondbacks to get within a run after a two-run homer by Goldschmidt and solo home run by Martinez to make it 5-4. The Astros answered back with a big inning of their own in the bottom half with runs scoring on a wild pitch, Altuve sac fly, and two-run blast by Reddick to make it 9-4. Hoyt started the ninth inning but was promptly removed in favor of Giles after giving up a solo home run to Iannetta. Giles had no problem getting the three outs and closed out the 9-5 Astros win.
The Astros would drop the series finale 4-0 with a resulting 2-2 split of the series on Thursday. On the offensive side, the Astros were unable to do anything against Corbin who came just one out shy of the complete game. Corbin allowed just four hits on the day while striking out seven in his dominating start. Fiers was on the mound for the Astros, and didn’t have a particularly horrible game, but did give up three runs, one of which was unearned on a really weird inside-the-park home run by Descalo after he hit a ball to the wall that bounced back and got away from Marisnick. Liriano followed Fiers and put a batter on base which would score on a wild pitch by Martes who came in after him. Ultimately it was a bad day for the offense who were unable to get anything done against Corbin.
Friday night was in my opinion another defining game for the Astros going forward. Keuchel has been under a lot of scrutiny since returning from the DL with only having one good game which was his previous start. He showed, at least in my opinion, that he is healthy physically and mentally and ready to finish the year strong. Keuchel went seven strong shutout innings giving up just three hits and induced seventeen ground balls. It was a classic, vintage Keuchel game which this team badly needed from him. He left with a 3-0 lead thanks to back-to-back solo homers from Bregman and Altuve in the third and a RBI single from Reddick in the sixth. Oakland’s lone run was a solo homer by Joyce in the eighth off of Devenski. Giles would come in for his twenty-fourth save of the year to lock up the 3-1 Astros win.
The Astros made it back-to-back nights of great pitching in their 3-0 shutout win on Saturday night. McHugh had a great game and threw six strong innings giving up six hits. Liriano and Musgrove combined for two hitless innings with Clippard, recently acquired from the White Sox, pitching the ninth and getting the save. In addition to the great pitching, the Astros were making great plays on defense all night long resulting in a crazy six double-plays turned. Offensively the Astros scored two runs on a double by Gonzalez in the fourth and added the third and final run on a solo home run by Bregman in the eighth sending them on to the 3-0 final.
The Astros ended the week with a 3-2 loss on Sunday which was ultimately the result of some poor luck and defensive miscues. The biggest blow was right off the bat in the first inning on one of the sloppiest defensive plays I’ve seen in quite some time. After giving up a leadoff single to Powell, Peacock got Semien to hit a ground ball to Bregman that got caught in Bregman’s glove, resulting in a rushed and sloppy throw to second base which ended up in right field, allowing Powell to score. Semien was agressive and heading for third when the ball came back in to Gonzalez who tried to rocket the ball over to third but ended up in left field, allowing Semien to get the unconventional trip around the bases. The Astros did trim the lead to one with a sac fly from Bregman in the third to make it 2-1, but would never be able to take a lead in the game. Lowrie would score in the sixth on another Astros error, this time a passed ball by Centeno to make it 3-1. Gonzalez hit a solo home run in the seventh to make it 3-2, but that would be all the Astros could do for the day, sending them to the tough loss.
After going 1-5 in the week prior, a 4-3 week is a step in the right direction, but it could’ve been much better if the offense would’ve been able to do more against the good pitching of the Diamondbacks. Everything appears to be moving in the right direction for the Astros, though, with Keuchel getting two good starts in a row, McHugh having a great start, and the bullpen doing well in general. Clippard has been a good addition so far, in my opinion better than the Liriano deal. Correa is still on track to be back for the playoff push, and the Astros should be getting Gattis and McCann back soon which will bring a little boost back to the offense. On the pitching side, Harris will make a rehab start this week, and it sounds like McCullers is also getting close to being ready to return as well. All in all, I like where things are heading for the Astros with the team getting healthier and getting guys back. They still have a large enough lead in the division that they can rest guys down the stretch and go into the playoffs healthy and rested, which could prove to be a big advantage.
MVP of the Week – Alex Bregman: I know he was my MVP just a few weeks back, but he continues to impress me with his talent and potential. This week he went 9 for 26 resulting in a .346 average with two homers and four RBIs. His contributions weren’t just at the plate, though. He made some spectacular plays on defense proving that he really is a great all-around player for the future.
This Week’s Schedule
- TUE-THU: Nationals (74-48) @ Astros (76-48)
- FRI-SUN: Astros (76-48) @ Angels (64-60)
The Astros get the day off today before hosting a three game set with the Nationals who are leading the NL East by 14 games. It will be a good test for the Astros to play a team like themselves who are ramping up for the playoffs. Then, the Astros head to Los Angeles for a three game set against the Angels who sit second in the AL West 12 games back, but are 8-2 in their last 10 games and tied for the second AL wild card spot. The Astros need to continue to build momentum and grind out a winning week.