The Houston Astros may have finally built some positive second-half momentum. After stumbling out of the All-Star break to a 9-10 record, the ‘Stros took two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, including a thrilling 7-6 walk-off victory on Sunday night. The offense broke out for four runs in the bottom of the ninth against Toronto All-Star Roberto Osuna, making a winner of Francis Martes and salvaging an uneven start from Mike Fiers.
It was the second offensive surge for the ‘Stros in three games, following an explosive nine-run fourth inning on Friday. That’s good news for a franchise that has seen numerous key bats succumb to injury in recent weeks. Better still? The fact that Houston is set to do battle with the Chicago White Sox, a rebuilding team that’s won only three of their 22 games after the All-Star break.
Houston ace Dallas Keuchel takes the hill for game one tonight, opposite Chicago lefty Derek Holland. Keuchel will be making his third start since missing two months with a pinched nerve in his neck. He’s still searching for his early-season form, having allowed three earned runs in each of his last two starts.
Another recently-recovered Astros pitcher is set to toe the rubber in game two – Collin McHugh has allowed two runs in his last twelve innings and is seeking his first win of the season.
Brad Peacock will handle the finale, taking his gaudy 10-1 record to the line on Thursday night. He’ll be opposed by surging White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon, who has all the makings of a front-line starter – he just needs to stay healthy and limit free passes.
The ‘Stros will be eager to escape Chicago with a series victory – their next stop is Arlington, where they’ll skirmish over three games with the rival Texas Rangers.
Journeyman minor league catcher Juan Centeno hasn’t seen much playing time for the ‘Stros – he’s only been up twice this season to cover for injuries. He’s made the most of it, though. Including the game-winning hit Sunday night, Centeno is batting a cool .455 with two home runs and only one strikeout. He’ll likely be optioned when Evan Gattis returns from the DL. But he’ll always have those gaudy ’17 numbers on the back of a baseball card.
Bregman Living Up To Hype
Alex Bregman was drafted by the Astros in June of 2015. Let that sink in for a moment. The 23-year-old made it to the big leagues the very next year, and is cementing himself as a longterm piece of the Houston lineup in his sophomore season. He’s been especially good since the break, batting .338 with 5 home runs in 21 games. His overall line for the season? .273/.354/.474, all while playing slick defense at the hot corner.
Springer Nears Return
Barring a late scratch, tonight’s game should mark the return of George Springer atop the Astros lineup. The All-Star outfielder is batting .310 this season with 22 doubles and 27 home runs.