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Let's discuss how the 2021 Astros remind us of the 2015 team

Jose Altuve has a 3 home run game against the Red Sox in game one of the ALDS.
Jose Altuve is having a bounce-back season. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.
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Remember when the Astros were hitting the reset button? They lost 100 games or more in three consecutive seasons in the transition between trying to stay relevant and hitting the reset button. After they made the World Series in 2005, they didn't make the playoffs for another ten years until the 2015 team broke through unexpectedly. That same team won a playoff single-elimination game against the Yankees and advanced to the Divisional round and lost to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals, 3-2.

That 2015 team wasn't expected to do much. It had been ten long arduous years since they had made the playoffs (a World Series loss to the White Sox in 2005). This team hadn't won more than 86 games in that dreadful stretch. The reason I see similarities between this team and the 2015 team is because no one thought either team would do anything.

For example: nobody thought the 2015 team would make the playoffs or compete. Not only did they make the playoffs, they lost a close series to the eventual World Series champs, the Kansas City Royals, in a close 3-2 series. I'm not saying that Astros team would've gone on to win a title that year, but they would've made some noise. That team also had 11 guys hit double-digit home runs with five of those 11 hitting 20 or more. They weren't expected to do anything, yet they managed to exceed expectations.

I can see this '21 team doing the same thing, or more. Nobody picked this year's Astros to do much. Most picked them to finish second in the AL West and miss the playoffs. While it's very early in the season, they look like the favorites to win the division despite their current losing streak and issues with COVID contact tracing. Whether they can compete for a pennant and make another World Series is another question. Do I think they can make it that far? Yes. Will they prove me right? That remains to be seen. Jose Altuve is having a bounce-back season. Yordan Alvarez is trying to return to his rookie season form. Carlos Correa is in a contract year and trying to earn that big payday. There are several young pitchers on the staff trying to prove they belong as well. When you factor in the veterans and young guys here all working to prove themselves, it makes for an interesting mix.

This team, in my opinion, has the ingredients to go further than that '15 team did. The pitching staff is better, and so is the lineup. The prior team hit .250 with a 3.57 team ERA. While I don't think the team ERA will be much better, I do think this team will/should hit better than a paltry .250, especially with the lineup they have. The ERA won't look much worse, but given the younger guys they have to rely on, I'm not sold on them being so dependable. Overall, I'm totally looking forward to what this team will do and thoroughly looking to be surprised. Who knows. We may be looking at another...I'll stop here before I jinx anything!

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Braves beat Houston in extra innings, 5-4. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Marcell Ozuna hit his major league-leading eighth homer and Orlando Arcia’s RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 5-4 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

It completes a three-game sweep of the struggling Astros and is Atlanta’s fourth straight victory.

The Braves scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie it at 4-4. Michael Harris II started the 10th as the automatic runner on second and there was one out in the inning when Seth Martinez (1-1) intentionally walked Matt Olson.

Ozuna lined out to right field to send Harris to third base. Arcia then singled on a ground ball to left field to score Harris and put the Braves on top.

Pinch-runner Jake Meyers was on second when Kyle Tucker walked with no outs in the 10th. Meyers moved to third on a fly out by Yainer Diaz but Jeremy Peña grounded into a double play to end it.

A.J. Minter (3-1) got the last two outs of the ninth for the win and Raisel Iglesias earned his fifth save.

Reigning NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. added his first homer of the season to help the Braves to the victory. Ozuna also leads the majors with 23 RBIs and he extended his hitting streak to 16 games, which ties his career best and is the longest active streak in the majors.

Yordan Alvarez and Mauricio Dubón both homered for the Astros, who fell to 6-14 and are last in the AL West.

There was one out in the first when Alvarez connected on his homer to the seats in left field to put Houston up 1-0.

Ozuna opened the second with his 432-foot shot to left field, which bounced off the wall and tied the game.

Acuña put the Braves up 2-1 when he sent the first pitch of the fifth inning to straightaway center field.

The Astros tied it on an RBI single by Alex Bregman in the fifth and Kyle Tucker’s RBI double came next to put the Astros up 3-2.

Dubón hit his first home run of the year off Jesse Chavez to start Houston’s sixth and push the lead to 4-2.

Harris singled to start the seventh before a ground-rule double by Austin Riley. Olson reached, and Harris scored on a fielding error by first baseman José Abreu when he couldn’t grab a routine ground ball.

There was one out in the inning when Riley scored on a sacrifice fly by Arcia to tie it at 4-all.

Houston starter J.P. France allowed four hits and two runs in five innings.

Max Fried gave up seven hits and three runs in five innings.

UP NEXT

Braves: Atlanta is off Thursday before opening a series against Texas on Friday night with LHP Chris Sale (1-1, 4.58 ERA) on the mound.

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night against Washington. The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder.

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