GAME 104: Marlins 7, Astros 3
GAME 105: Marlins 4, Astros 2
The Astros' homecoming against Florida was not quite welcoming -- they were swept in the three game weekend series. I may have to dig a bit to find my something-to-like about a sweep at home, but I'll try.
The two most notable Astros players in the series were game 1 starter Dallas Keuchel and our irrepressible infielder Jose Altuve. Keuchel had a terrific game -- he threw 7 innings, giving up 2 runs (0 ER) scored due to a fielding error. Sadly, Houston batters couldn't manage to eke out a couple of runs in support, so he ended up getting tagged with the loss. Still, it's great that he resumed the form that made him such a standout pitcher earlier this season. Unfortunately, both Cosart and McHugh were hit up for early-inning runs in their starts, and did not have such positive game stats or much offensive support -- a good recipe for a big fat "L."
On the offensive side, Altuve just kept doing what he does best -- hitting. Over the three games he went 7 for 13, including a leadoff homer in game 3. This barrage of hits has Altuve leading the Major Leagues in batting average (.344) and hits (148), while leading the AL in stolen bases (42) and second in the AL for doubles (30). How cool is this?
The Astros are still missing some of their key position players, due to injury. Most notably, our center field depth is significantly depleted, with Fowler, Springer, and Presley all on the DL. Springer and Presley might be back this week, but Fowler's not expected on the field until sometime in August. In the meantime, rookie Hernandez is getting a lot of playing time. He's acquitting himself well at the plate, and is learning to play MMP's dreadful centerfield the hard way -- by experience. Unfortunately for him, that included Friday night's failed catch that resulted in the Marlins' only 2 (unearned) runs. Says a lot for Dallas Keuchel that he went up to Hernandez after the game -- not to blame him, but to check on how he was doing after that blunder cost the game.
Unfortunately for the Astros' W-L record, the next series is against the best team in the league -- a hometown rematch with Oakland. It's going to be a long week. Hell, it's a long season!
DUST EATERS COUNT: BACK DOWN TO 1!The Astros record is now 42-63 (.400). There's one team in either league that's worse -- the Rangers (.390). And they are pretty damn close. The Astros are due to get the second pick in next year's draft, because of not signing Aiken. If they come in last place again this year, do they get the first TWO picks?