These are the Astros Houston got used to this summer. Winners of seven in a row, the ball club is once again functioning on all cylinders. Over the course of a three-game sweep of the Mariners in Seattle, Houston pitching allowed all of six runs. The offense scored 14.
Actually, these Astros are even better than the earlier model – August upgrades Justin Verlander and Cameron Maybin have already delivered clutch performances, and starting pitcher Collin McHugh is finally healthy after missing the entire first half of the season with an elbow impingement.
That spells bad news for the Oakland Athletics (not to mention the rest of the league), who are set to host the ‘Stros this weekend in California. Houston has had Oakland’s number this year, winning 12 of their first 15 contests with the AL West rivals. The season series comes to a close this weekend, with a crowded slate of four games in three days.
McHugh heads to the hill tonight, toting a 3.25 season ERA and 42 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. The 30-year-old righty appears to have rediscovered the from he flashed in 2014 and 2015, when he racked up 30 wins against only 16 losses and pitched to a 3.39 ERA. He’s been particularly effective of late, allowing only one earned run over his last 16 2/3 innings.
Saturday will see the Astros playing their second double-header in just one week, following last weekend’s sweep of the New York Mets in Houston. Charlie Morton starts in game one at 3:05 Central – he’ll look to build on his solid season, which has seen him record a 3.87 ERA and strike out more than one batter per inning. Brad Peacock, a strikeout machine himself, will toe the rubber in game two. Peacock has been indispensable in the swingman role this year, making 17 starts and 13 appearances in relief. His 10-2 ERA and 3.05 ERA speak for themselves.
Things will really get tough for Oakland batters on Sunday, when ace lefty Dallas Keuchel starts the matinee. Keuchel is coming off of a strong outing in Seattle, where he pitched into the eighth inning and limited the M’s to just two runs. First pitch is at 3:05 Central; the A’s are donating $1 of every ticket sold this series to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Houston acquired outfielder Cameron Maybin from the Angels on August 31st hoping that the veteran speedster would provide a boost in the outfield and on the base paths. They probably didn’t count on getting such a powerful contribution from his bat. Maybin has already homered three times for his new team, including a game-winning shot in the ninth inning on Wednesday.
Astros Foundation Chipping In
The Houston Astros Foundation announced on Wednesday that they’ve teamed up with a number of corporate partners to provide 500 Texas National Guard members meals for a week. It’s the latest way the Astros have supported their community. Those wishing to contribute to their efforts may do so here.