GAME 120: Astros 10, Twins 4
GAME 121: Twins 3, Astros 1
GAME 122: Red Sox 9, Astros 4
GAME 123: Astros 5, Red Sox 3 (10 innings)
GAME 124: Red Sox 10, Astros 7
GAME 125: Astros 8, Red Sox 1
That point of view might have been a hard sell over the past week, as the Astros managed to drop some close games, and to lose some leads in big innings for the wrong team. The Astros 3 wins last week came for the most part by hot offense. The losses came for the most part by fails, mid game, by the starters, with weak relief by the bullpen. Take a look at the Red Sox series: On Thursday, the Astros carried a 4-1 lead to the bottom of the 6th inning, with what looked like a nice start for Scott Feldman. Then, Feldman melted down, allowing the Sox to tie it up on a double, 4 singles, and a walk. He left the game with the score tied 4-4 and one out. Then the bullpen (Downs and Folty) allowed all of Feldman's runners, plus one, to score before the inning ended with 12 Boston batters coming to the plate.
Saturday's game was much the same. Houston took an early lead with 6 runs scoring in the first 4 innings, and went into the bottom of the 5th leading 6-3. Peacock's recent games considered, 3 runs in 4 innings would have to be counted as a quality start for our weakest link in the rotation. But in the 5th inning Peacock gave up his second homer of the night to David Ortiz, for 2 more runs. Then Fields allowed a single, pair of walks, and sac fly to give up the lead for good. Chapman came in to pitch long relief, and had two good innings, then gave up 3 runs in the 8th, for a little Red Sox icing on the cake.
The Astros two losses to the Twins both came after nice starts in tight games (relatively nice for Peacock, very nice for Oberholtzer), followed by Fields giving up runs in his relief inning. Unfortunately for Obie, who only gave up 1 run in 7 innings, the Astros didn't score on his watch and he ended up with the loss.
Unfortunately, I missed seeing Friday night's 5-3 win, due to Sabbath observance, but it appears to have been quite crazy. With the Astros behind 3-2 in the 8th, 2 on and 2 outs, the Red Sox misplayed a simple ground ball, throwing late to second base (rather than the easy out at first). Then pinch-runner Petit came around trying to score from second base, dodging Red Sox players right and left and managed to score. You have to just go watch the replay. Words do not suffice to describe such a crazy play. The Sox challenged both plays, of course, and lost on review. That run tied the game, and it stayed tied until Marisnick hit in the winning runs in the tenth inning. The win Friday night was notable for two reasons: It was Houston's 51st win, tying last season's total. And it was the Astros' first win in Fenway Park. What a game! What a game!
The other 2 of the Astros' 3 wins last week came in big offensive games, scoring 10 and 8 runs against the Twins and Red Sox, respectively. The highlights of these bursts included more of the same wonderful batting by Altuve, and a continuation of Carter's recent power burst. Look at Altuve's game on Sunday: He went 4 for 5 with a grand slam, putting his BA at .339 (7 points over next best Cano) and his hit total at a crazy 173 (13 hits over next best Cabrera). Carter's home run total is up to 29 -- just 2 behind the AL leaders Abreu and Cruz. For everyone who has badmouthed Carter, it's time to give him some credit. He's really coming into his own.