Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
After an offensive explosion the night prior, the Astros returned to Coors Field in Denver on Thursday afternoon, trying to complete the dual-city four-game sweep of the Rockies. Here are the highlights from the game:
Final Score: Astros 10, Rockies 8.
Record: 15-10, second in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Brooks Raley (1-0, 7.45 ERA).
Losing pitcher: German Marquez (2-4, 4.38 ERA).
Plenty of early offense
After a scoreless first inning, Houston was able to pick up where they left off on Wednesday night, putting up big innings. In the top of the second, Kyle Tucker hit his second triple in the last two games, driving in the first run of the day to give the Astros the early 1-0 lead. They went on to score four more on RBI-singles by Martin Maldonado and George Springer and a two-RBI double by Jose Altuve.
The offense continues to roll! #ForTheH pic.twitter.com/FQUgr60RqO
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 20, 2020
Unlike Framber Valdez, who was able to translate his recent success to Denver's thin air, Cristian Javier would not have as great of a start. After a scoreless first, the Rockies tagged Javier with a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to get some of the runs back that the Astros scored in the top half.
In the next inning, Nolan Arenado cut the lead to two runs with a solo shot, making it 5-3. He would go on to finish the inning, but after two outs in the fourth would give the ball to Dusty Baker as Brooks Raley would come on to end the inning. Javier's final line: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.
Houston reaches double digits again
Like in the second, Houston heated up again in the top of the fifth, starting with back-to-back singles by Altuve and Carlos Correa to start the inning. They would both score thanks to RBI-singles by Maldonado and Tucker, followed immediately by a three-run blast by Abraham Toro, giving the Astros five runs on three swings of the bat and extending their lead to 10-3.
Everyone is joining the hit parade. #ForTheH pic.twitter.com/vBzlWL11SP
— Houston Astros (@astros) August 20, 2020
Raley remained on the mound for the bottom of the fifth, allowing a leadoff double by Arenado to become a two-run home run by Ryan McMahon, his second of the game to trim the lead back to five runs at 10-5. He returned to face one more batter to start the bottom of the sixth, issuing a walk before Dusty Baker moved to Josh James.
James would suffer from some sporadic wind blowing the ball around, which caused Josh Reddick to misplay a fly ball that turned into a double, followed by a two-run double to make it a three-run game, 10-7. He would get three of the next four batters out, stranding two runners to end the frame, but would be yet another Houston player to come away injured, coming up hurt while running the last groundout to first base.
Houston completes the four-game sweep
Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen for Houston in the bottom of the seventh, getting the first hitless inning for the Astros by working around a two-out walk. He faced one more batter, leading off the bottom of the eighth, but would allow a single to prompt another call to the bullpen. Enoli Paredes came in and was able to work around a two-out walk to strand both runners and maintain the three-run lead.
After the Astros were retired in order in the top of the inning, Ryan Pressly entered for the save situation in the bottom of the ninth. Pressly allowed a leadoff triple but would limit the Rockies to just one run, finishing off the four-game sweep and extending Houston's streak to eight games.
Up Next: Houston will remain on the road this weekend, traveling to San Diego for a three-game series with the Padres. The opener of the set will be on Friday at 8:10 PM Central with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 5.47 ERA) on the mound for the Astros while San Diego's starter is TBD.
It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.
Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.
While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.
On Yordan Alvarez the leader, one of two constants in a clubhouse bracing for change and the responsibility he wants to shoulder as a result - https://t.co/sZGlI5taBQ
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 21, 2024
Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.
Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.
Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.
He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.
So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?
Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.
One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.
Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.
So what does all this mean for Yordan?
Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!
Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.