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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We'll see if Watson is in pads on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Houston Texans.

The Houston Texans had their last practice before pads come on for the first time on Tuesday. There was plenty to see on Monday.

1. Deshaun Watson had his usual extremely light level of work. He did very little throwing to teammates, though he did throw to the tight ends in 1-on-1 drills.

2. Texans head coach David Culley said "nothing has changed" when asked if Deshaun Watson will be in pads Tuesday. Culley has maintained that answer for a couple of sessions now.

3. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor was back after missing Saturday with an excused personal day. Taylor has been the best quarterback in camp by a wide margin. Taylor makes better decisions with the football than other quarterbacks, but he does struggle on deeper passes. Taylor missed wildly on one deep ball and was a little wobbly on another.

4. Nobody in camp can cover wide receiver Brandin Cooks. This could be the easiest training camp of his life. He easily gets open in 1-on-1 situations.

5. Rookie wide receiver Nico Collins continues to flash his abilities in camp. Collins easily shook loose from defensive back John Reid and took the route vertical for an easy score. Collins later had a tough catch in traffic.

6. It's only been a few days, but the competition for inside wide receiver reps is tough. Former Bears wideout Anthony Miller has looked quick and nothing like the "draft bust" the Bears fans watched. Keke Coutee has rarely lost a rep, but Desmond King did win a few times over Coutee in the opening days of camp. Former Bengals wideout Alex Erickson finds himself constantly open. The cuts at wide receiver are already shaking out to be difficult.

7. Davis Mills bounced back in a sense that he couldn't be worse than he was on Saturday. The performance from Mills on Saturday was abysmal, but head coach David Culley said he liked how Mills responded today. With Tyrod Taylor back, there were fewer reps for Mills, but he had some impressive throws to go along with an off-target throw or two. Mills was far better than Jeff Driskel on Monday. Driskel tossed two interceptions right to defenders, including one that would've gone the wrong way for a score.

8. This linebacker group is interesting. With a new defensive scheme under Lovie Smith, the type of linebacker is very different from previous years. There was a clear emphasis on cover ability as these linebackers were added to the team.

9. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Kevin Pierre-Louis have both had some significant wins for the linebackers in coverage.

10. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan looks the part physically, but he's had a rough few days, including a drop on Monday.

11. With the pads coming on Tuesday, it will be fun to watch the rebuilt defensive line clash with the many combinations of the offensive line. There will be no J.J. Watt who historically stirred up the team on day one of pads. Laremy Tunsil's cool confidence about the offensive line over the weekend leads me to believe they are a confident group, while there are spots to be won on the defensive side of the line.

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