Four years ago, the Houston Astros lost 111 games and finished a staggering 45 games out of first place. That’s a long hill to climb, but Houston knew it was in good hands. The team had recently hired Jeff Luhnow as general manager, and his blueprint for building a supertanker of a franchise included some lean years. The payoff, Luhnow said, would be worth the wait.
Whatever you were expecting from Game 2, you weren’t expecting this. After one of the most dramatic postseason games in recent memory, the Astros are heading home with a coveted road win. With the series tied 1-1, Houston carries some pleasant momentum into their upcoming three-game home stand. It took no shortage of small miracles to get them there.
This was October baseball at its best.
The Astros and Red Sox traded barbs over nine pulse-quickening innings at Fenway Park this afternoon. In the end, it was the Astros who emerged victorious in the see-saw affair. Their win sealed the American League Division Series in Houston’s favor and eliminated the Red Sox from the 2017 postseason.
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.
For the first half of the year, it was the pitching staff.
Now it’s the hitters’ turn.
The Astros roster has taken a hit lately, as a rash of ill-timed injuries has felled a number of key cogs in the Houston offense. The onslaught started last week, when 22-year-old shortstop wunderkind Carlos Correa ripped through a ligament in his left thumb while taking a mighty swing. Correa’s expected to miss six to eight weeks. It’s a tough blow, but we wrote at the time that the Astros were well-positioned to cover their star’s extended absence.
The Houston Astros would like to request a scheduling change from Major League Baseball: They’d like to stay in Atlanta a while longer. And after their offense exploded for 26 runs in two games at the newly-opened SunTrust Park, who can blame them?
By most measures, the Houston Astros have the best offense in baseball. They slug balls over the fence like no one else, they work counts and draw walks, and they’ve made a habit of not striking out. There’s no such thing as an easy out in this lineup, and that starts at the top – leadoff man George Springer is in the midst of a career year.
On May 27, the Houston Astros removed a struggling Mike Fiers from their starting rotation and deposited the 32-year-old veteran into the bullpen. It was, without doubt, a demoralizing blow for the right-handed hurler. Fiers has been a serviceable major league starter for the Astros in the past, and has even flirted with stretches of dominance. But after he limped to a 5.21 ERA and a major league-leading 18 home runs allowed to start 2017, AJ Hinch and the Astros had seen enough.
Astros skipper AJ Hinch is a lucky man. His club has been the toast of Major League Baseball this year. He draws rave reviews from a dynamic young clubhouse. He also possesses an elite bullpen weapon in the form of fireballing sophomore Chris Devenski. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether Hinch knows how best to use that weapon.