ASTROS REPORT

5 Astros stats you may have missed during this red-hot stretch

What a hot stretch for Houston! Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Astros are coming off back-to-back series victories over the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins and are scoring runs consistently again.

Houston scored a combined 45 runs over this 6-game stretch and the Astros now rank first in hits, batting average, OPS, runs and runs per game this season.

This offensive showcase can be attributed to a certain player returning to the lineup as well as multiple Astros contributing at the plate, on the mound and even on the base paths.

Michael Brantley came off the 10-day injured list on Tuesday against the Red Sox. He wasted no time at all, picking up right where he left off in terms of hitting. He played in five games last week and had 12 hits and 6 RBIs over that span. His .337 average and 1.4 WAR were missed by the Astros, and it looks as though Brantley is fitting right back in to this dynamic offensive lineup.

Kyle Tucker continues to increase his productivity at the plate on a week by week basis. The Houston outfielder is riding an 8-game hitting streak and increased his batting average by 11 points this week. Tucker got off to a terribly slow start and was batting an abysmal .173 on May 1st. The slugger has turned things around, and is becoming one of the Astros most formidable players this season.

Since his three run home run at Yankee Stadium, Jose Altuve has increased his batting average from .256 to .288 and has returned to looking like the Altuve from years past, not the one we saw last year in 2020. There is no doubt that no one has received more heckling at the plate than Altuve to this point from fans and opposing players. This may have affected him at the start of the season, but he has come to accept the boo birds are here to stay, and if anything it might be fueling his recent resurgence at the plate.

Another key player the Astros are getting contributions from is Yordan Alvarez. The 23-year-old as been Houston's primary designated hitter since he was called up in 2019. Lately, Alvarez has been getting some reps in left field, further bolstering his range with the team. He earned his first career stolen base on Sunday against the Twins, proving he can be a threat at the plate, in the field and on the base paths. Yordan can do it all.

Good pitching has also been a contributing factor for the Astros winning ways. No pitcher has been better than Framber Valdez. In his fourth year with the Astros, the lefty has earned a career best 1.42 ERA after four starts this season. He has thrown for at least seven innings in three consecutive starts. The Astros may have to make some tough decisions with six pitchers vying for five spots in the rotation, but Valdez does not have to worry about losing his spot in the order anytime soon the way he has been dealing on the mound.

Up Next: The Astros start a 6-game homestead with two games against the division rival Texas Rangers and a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox.

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TEXAS A&M VS. ALABAMA PREVIEW

Heading to Tuscaloosa, the Aggies are on a slippery slope

Alabama is up next for the Aggies. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

One step forward, two steps backward. That's how it has felt to be a Texas A&M football fan for the past 2 seasons. After a disappointing 2021 season which saw the Aggies as a preseason #7, only to wind up with an 8-4 record, the Maroon and White entered 2022 fresh off a #1 recruiting class and a preseason #6 ranking. Only five weeks into the season, the Ags are headed for another step backward after a lackluster performance against Mississippi State. Even after the loss to App State, there was still hope that A&M could right the ship in SEC play. However, after a trip to Starkville, the Aggies look on track to have their worst season in over a decade.

A&M struggled in Starkville, to say the least. They were shut out in the first half, special teams struggled, Max Johnson was getting abused behind a bad offensive line performance and the defense had their worst performance of the season. Mississippi State was the better team for the entire 60 min. If you’re Texas A&M and headman Jimbo Fisher trying to propel your program to the level of Alabama and Georgia in the SEC, you must beat teams like the Bulldogs. But every year under Fisher a team that Texas A&M is more talented than always seems to get the better of them. After yet another disappointing SEC loss, the Ags have more problems and questions it seems now than after the week two App State loss.

The biggest issue facing the Aggies in my opinion is the offense. It has been anemic all season long, ranking dead last in the SEC in total offense and 105th in the nation. Here in College Station, much of the conversation has been around Jimbo and his play calling. Much has been made about how complex his offense is and the many wrinkles and details his quarterbacks need to learn to be successful in it. My question is why? Why does it have to be so complicated? Why do his plays require such a level of execution that if one of the eleven men on the field misses an assignment, then it is doomed? In college football, it seems like the most prolific offenses are simple, straightforward and easy for the players to understand. This allows them to play with freedom and looseness to make plays. I am not saying I know anything more than Jimbo, trust me, but I do think a change on the offensive side is in order. Whether that means Jimbo changes his philosophy and system that he runs or if it means bringing in a new offensive coordinator to redefine his offense a la Nick Saban in 2014.

Speaking of Nick Saban, things don’t get easier for the falling Aggies as they travel to Tuscaloosa this coming Saturday for the much-anticipated rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Unfortunately for Texas A&M, they’ll be without starting QB Max Johnson most likely, as he could be out with a hand injury. That means they will once again turn to Haynes King for a spark. King has been extremely turnover prone throughout his collegiate career, and for the Aggies to once again pull off the upset over Bama, King will need to limit turnovers. It will take a lot more to go right for the Aggies to hang into this game, but I expect this one to get ugly. The Crimson Tide handle business with a 45-14 win over Texas A&M.

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