The Astros lost their series against the second-place Anaheim Angels and have now dropped four of their last six games. Ordinarily, that sort of development would cause plenty of concern. But Houston still holds a commanding twelve game lead in the AL West standings as they welcome the Rangers to Minute Maid Park. So why are Astros fans hanging their heads? Because the ‘Stros have lost yet another pitcher – this time young fireballer Lance McCullers Jr. – to the disabled list.
You wouldn’t know it by their 8-2 record, but the Houston Astros took a few lumps on their latest road trip. After soaring to an eleven-game winning streak, the ‘Stros lost star pitcher Dallas Keuchel to the 10-day disabled list for the second time in as many months.
Already the hottest team in baseball, the Houston Astros used their weekend series against the Texas Rangers as so much more rocket fuel. Houston surged to its third consecutive series sweep and extended their winning streak to a season-high ten games.
The triumphant showing marks a notable reversal of one of last season’s most frustrating storylines. So far this year, the ‘Stros have wrestled six victories from Rangers in just seven games – in 2016, they managed four wins in nineteen Lone Star Series matchups.
Houston, we have no problems. After pitching carried the team in a thrilling series against Baltimore, the Astros bats sounded off for a spectacular 40 runs in three games to sweep the Twins in Minnesota. That kind of balance portends big things for this club: If one part of the team falters, another will be along to pick it up.
A week ago, the Astros were reeling. This week, they’re soaring. Houston rattled off victories in six of seven games to salvage a home stand that started out on a sour note. The heroic effort – including three straight wins to sweep the Baltimore Orioles out of town over Memorial Day weekend – helped soothe the sting of a frustrating series against Cleveland.
Heading into their four-game series with the Detroit Tigers, the 2017 Astros faced a stiff test: How would this young, high-flying club respond to a humiliating home sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians?
Nobody said this was going to be easy. The Houston Astros hit a roadblock this week, stumbling in their attempt to run away with the American League pennant. Crucially, it was one they’ve hit before: The defending AL Champs from Cleveland.
Cleveland swept the Astros over three nail-biting games at Minute Maid Park, silencing a Houston crowd that has grown unaccustomed to losing. It marked the first time the Astros lost consecutive games since a late-April trip to – that’s right – Cleveland.
Sports bars the city over are buzzing. Out-of-service buses flash “Go Astros!” on their marquees. T-shirts and caps dot every street corner. Make no mistake – the Houston Astros are the talk of the town. And after the elimination of the Rockets in the NBA playoffs, they’re poised to whip the city into a frenzied baseball fever to last deep into October.
The Houston Astros continue to cement their first-place credentials. With a two-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves earlier this week, Houston moved to 23–11 on the young season – their best 34-game start in franchise history.
There’s an old saying in baseball: You can’t win a division in April.
The Astros would like to remind everyone that it’s not April anymore. Fresh off a series win over second-place Anaheim, Houston is looking more and more like the team to beat in the AL West – if not the entire league.