Astros extend winning streak to 11 games with sweeps of A's, Royals

Dallas Keuchel bounced back. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Houston continued a lighter schedule this week after a day off Monday, starting with a trip to Oakland for three games in the AL West before taking on the struggling Royals in Kansas City over the weekend. Here's how they did:

Tuesday, June 12th: 42-25 Astros (Lance McCullers Jr.) vs. 34-32 A's (Daniel Mengden)

Houston started the week down 1-0 after a wild pitch scored a run for Oakland in the bottom of the first in Tuesday night's game. Carlos Correa tied things up in the top of the second, however, before Evan Gattis added three more RBIs to his recent explosion on a three-run homer to make it 4-1. McCullers allowed a second run in the bottom of the second, and walked some batters in the fourth to load the bases, but was able to get through that and go on to pitch a solid seven-inning game with just the two earned runs. Gattis wasn't done with RBIs in the game, though, adding two more in the fifth inning on a two-run double to make it 6-2. Collin McHugh pitched the eighth and after hitting a couple of batters and an error allowed an RBI single to make it 6-3, but the A's would come no closer with Ken Giles coming in for the save in the ninth to keep the winning streak alive.
Final Score: Astros 6, A's 3

Wednesday, June 13th: 43-25 Astros (Gerrit Cole) vs. 34-33 A's (Paul Blackburn)

It was all about the offense on Wednesday night, with Houston pouring it on Paul Blackburn early and dinging him with eight runs before he could get through two innings. Those eight runs paired with two more to jump out to a 10-0 lead came via three RBIs from Yuli Gurriel, a two-RBI triple from Carlos Correa, a solo home run from Marwin Gonzalez, and four RBIs from, who else, Evan Gattis on a sac fly and three-run home run. As has plagued him recently, Gerrit Cole did allow a couple of home runs which resulted in four runs, but with the large lead it was insignificant, and Cole was still able to finish six innings on his way to a win. Gattis made it back-to-back nights with five RBIs with a solo homer in the seventh, and even Jake Marisnick got in on the action with a two-run homer of his own in the ninth. The A's were able to score one run off of the bullpen, a home run off of Reymin Guduan who recently rejoined the team with Joe Smith going to the DL. It was Will Harris and Guduan who combined for the final three innings as the Astros finished the lopsided win.
Final Score: Astros 13, A's 5

Thursday, June 14th: 44-25 Astros (Justin Verlander) vs. 34-34 A's (Frankie Montas)

Houston was hot out of the gate yet again on Thursday afternoon, taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with RBIs from Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick. Oakland trimmed that lead in half with a solo home run off of Justin Verlander in the bottom of the second to make it 2-1, but the Astros turned things right back around scoring five runs between the third and sixth innings on an error, RBIs from Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, and two-run homer by Brian McCann, making it 7-1. Oakland got another home run off of Verlander in the seventh, this time a two-run shot to make it 7-3, but they would come no closer. Verlander finished seven innings with those three runs allowed, followed by Chris Devenski and Hector Rondon who pitched a perfect inning each to complete the win, the three-game sweep, and extend the winning streak to eight. 
Final Score: Astros 7, A's 3

Friday, June 15th: 45-25 Astros (Charlie Morton) vs. 22-46 Royals (Jakob Junis)

As they have done on many Friday nights since they won their championship in 2015, the Royals donned their gold-trimmed uniforms on Friday night to take on the reigning champion Astros in the series opener. Both pitchers looked sharp early, but the Royals struck first with a two-run third inning to go up 2-0 off of Charlie Morton. Alex Bregman recorded the first hit against Jakob Junis in the top of the fourth, a solo home run to make it 2-1 before Carlos Correa launched a solo shot of his own for the second hit and second homer of the inning, tying the game up 2-2. Morton looked to be back in control in the fourth with a perfect inning but began missing his spots in the fifth, walking three consecutive batters and walking in the go-ahead run to make it 3-2 Kansas City. Junis had a bad inning of his own in the next half-inning, allowing three consecutive hits to load the bases for Evan Gattis, who capitalized with a grand slam to make it 6-3 Houston and keep his unreal hot streak alive, also ending Junis' night. Morton was back out for the sixth and was able to get through it, but with the earlier tough innings had reached 98 pitches on the night. Morton's final line was still respectable, going the six full innings with three earned runs but striking out nine. Brad Peacock was first out of the bullpen and pitched a quick seventh inning while the offense continued to work, adding another run to make it 7-3 on an RBI-double by Marwin Gonzalez. That score held to the end with scoreless innings from Tony Sipp (who has looked surprisingly sharp recently) and Collin McHugh, locking up Houston's ninth straight win.
Final Score: Astros 7, Royals 3

Saturday, June 16th: 46-25 Astros (Dallas Keuchel) vs. 22-47 Royals (Danny Duffy)

The Astros got on top quick on Saturday afternoon, getting a leadoff walk from George Springer and single from Alex Bregman to set up Jose Altuve for a two-RBI double in the top of the first to get a 2-0 lead before an out had been recorded in the game. Keuchel pitched a strong game early, getting a ton of groundouts and keeping the Royals scoreless through four innings. He was given an extra cushion in the top of the fifth with an RBI check-swing single by Jake Marisnick who then scored after an error and sac fly from Alex Bregman, making it 4-0 Houston. Some bad luck turned things for Keuchel in the bottom of the fifth, however, after a rare error by Carlos Correa prevented the final out of the inning and ended up giving the Royals momentum to cut the lead in half on two unearned runs, costing Keuchel 15 extra pitches to finish the inning. The offense replenished the lead and more on a three-run homer by Max Stassi in the top of the sixth, making it a five-run game at 7-2. After the prolonged fifth inning, Keuchel came back out and finished the sixth to end his day, which despite the two runs, was a good return to form after the debacle in Arlington last week. Alex Bregman delivered a three-run home run of his own in the top of the ninth, making it an eight-run lead which Chris Devenski held to wrap up the win and make it ten straight.
Final Score: Astros 10, Royals 2

Sunday, June 17th: 47-25 Astros (Lance McCullers Jr.) vs. 22-48 Royals (Brad Keller)

Both teams sported light blue accents for Father's Day on Sunday, but it was Houston who fathered in the first runs of the game. Alex Bregman got the first hit of the game with a single, followed by a walk by Jose Altuve. Both advanced on a passed ball before scoring on singles by Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel, making it a quick 2-0 advantage. The Royals answered back in their half of the inning as Lance McCullers Jr. struggled a bit, walking back-to-back batters before giving up a single to load the bases. An infield ground ball resulted in a run on a bad throw home by Alex Bregman, then a second would score on another ground ball, which this time was thrown to first for the second out on an exceptional play by McCullers before he got out of the inning looking at a 2-2 tie game. McCullers had one run saved in the bottom of the third by Marwin Gonzalez with a perfect throw from left field to nail the runner at the plate which held after a Royals challenge, however, a two-run homer by the Royals before that inning was over kept the momentum with Kansas City who took a 4-2 lead. Houston strung together some hits in the top of the fourth and scored one on an RBI single by Brian McCann, but would strand two runners to leave the Royals with a one-run lead. Houston had another chance in the top of the sixth with runners on the corners with no outs but would strand both after a strikeout and double play. Despite the four runs, McCullers finished his start strong, completing six innings and striking out nine batters, looking dominant in his later innings. Tony Sipp pitched a scoreless seventh before the Astros got a lift from Carlos Correa who drilled a laser home run to tie the game 4-4 in the top of the eighth. That home run sparked the offense, who regained the lead with a go-ahead RBI from Evan Gattis and one from Marwin Gonzalez to go up 6-4. Ken Giles took the mound for the eighth which he got through in order before a sac-fly from Carlos Correa in the ninth made it 7-4. Hector Rondon threw a scoreless ninth for another save, wrapping up the perfect road trip, three-game sweep, and extending the streak to eleven.
Final Score: Astros 7, Royals 4


Despite having to come back from behind late in Sunday's game to cap it off, the Astros continued to feast on an easier stretch of their schedule for a perfect 6-0 week. They currently sit with an eleven-game winning streak, matching their best streak of last year and one shy of the franchise record of twelve, which they could easily break this week. The winning ways have been fueled largely by the offense, who have outscored opponents 81-40 in the last eleven games. They've been getting production all through the lineup and have quickly proved everyone silly, similar to last year, that was worried about the offense after a slower start to the season. The rotation remains solid, and the three starters who had been the most questionable recently, Keuchel, Morton, and McCullers, all had decent starts against the Royals to hopefully give them momentum going forward. The bullpen continued to pitch well this week as well, and it seems that while the true closer spot works itself out A.J. Hinch has the luxury of putting out either Giles or Rondon on any given night since both have had hot hands. If there is one thing to nit-pick about, it would be that the baserunning and fielding looked a bit shaky this week, with errors in both of those phases. I think those things easily work themselves out as the season goes on, though. 

MVP of the Week - Evan Gattis

I thought I might've been crazy to pick Gattis as my MVP a couple of weeks ago, but this week, there's no question. Gattis is now tied with Carlos Correa as the team leader in RBIs, which is also good for fifth best in the league, with 47 on the season after tallying an absurd fifteen this week. He had ten of those in the back-to-back games in Oakland including the epic grand slam. He hasn't only been hitting long balls, though; Gattis went 10-for-24 this week with four home runs, raising his average from .233 to .255. Who knows how long his bat stays hot, but for now, he's earned the DH spot in the lineup. 

This Week

Mon-Wed: (33-38) Rays @ (48-25) Astros

Fri-Sun (22-49) Royals @ (48-25) Astros

After ten games on the road, the Astros return home for nine games, including six this week. Tonight, they'll start a three-game series against the Rays who with a 33-38 record find themselves looking way up in the AL East at the Yankees and Red Sox. Then, this weekend the Astros will square off against the Royals again, facing them for three more games to finish their season series all within a ten-day span. Look for Houston to cruise to another winning week.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Let's make a deal. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, and the Houston Texans have a significant decision to make regarding their franchise star, J.J. Watt. The Texans are 1-6 through the first seven games of the season, and the next few years of the franchise seem a bit bleak.

No player or staff member has encapsulated Houston's frustration quite like Watt. Excluding the Texans' victory over the Jaguars, the future Hall of Famer has looked miserable in every post-game press conference. Each week, it's the constant look of despair. And in hindsight, closing the chapter on Watt's career in Houston seems to be best for both parties.

At 31-years-old, the All-Pro defensive tackle should be spending the twilight of his career competing for Super Bowls — not playing for a team who is clearly about to hit the reset button at the conclusion of this season.

By departing from Watt, it would allow the Texans to get a jumpstart on their rebuilding project — one that has the potential to bring back quality draft picks, a young prospect, and clear close to $20 million in cap space.

If they decide not to move on from Watt, the Texans risk putting themselves in a situation where they may miss out on obtaining higher draft picks and strapped for cash heading into the 2021 free agency market. And with one year left on his contract following 2020, the Texans also risk losing leverage in a potential deal if forced into trading Watt come next season.

At this stage of his career, the Texans may not receive a haul for Watt's services but could maximize his trade value by dealing him to a championship-contending team. A move that would give Watt the best chances of adding a championship title to his luxurious resume in return.

With the future of the franchise in mind, here are three potential trade ideas that would be best if the Texans are truly considering moving on from Watt.

Watt returns home to Wisconsin and joins the Packers

Texans receive: 2021 first-round pick and LB Kamal Martin

Packer receive: J.J. Watt

The Green Bay Packers are one of a handful of teams who has a realistic chance to stamp their ticket to Super Bowl LV. Following a win over the Texans on Sunday, the Packers stand first in the NFC North with a 5-1 record and possess one of the NFL's best offensive teams.

Green Bay's offense can compete in a shootout with just about any team in the league, but their defense may be the reason why they fall short of representing the NFC in Tampa Bay come February. They have only accumulated a total of 10 quarterback hits and are currently 30th in the league in pass rush through the first six games. The Packers' lack of ability to get to the opposing team's quarterback could be an immense problem during a playoff game that could feature Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

So what do the Packers have to lose by acquiring their Wisconsin native?

The addition of Watt would allow the Packers to add one of the best pass rushers of all-time. Although Watt is nowhere near the player that finished second behind Aaron Rogers for league MVP honors in 2015, he has illustrated that he is still a disruptive defensive lineman five years later.

Through the first seven games, Watt has accounted for 11 pressures, six quarterback hits and three sacks — which would make him Green Bay's second most reliable pass rusher trailing only Za'Darius Smith.

For the Texans, receiving a first-round pick for Watt is self-explanatory and would be the most suitable return for the aging star. However, for a team that is building for the future, the Texans should consider obtaining a young and raw prospect to evaluate.

Kamal Martin, a fifth-round draft selection in 2020, made his NFL debut against the Texans on Sunday and left an exceptional first impression. He recorded six tackles and one tackle for loss in 29 snaps inside NRG Stadium, and could be a building block should the Texans begin to make modifications to their linebacking corps.

Seattle sends multiple draft picks for Watt

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and fourth-round pick

Seahawks receive: J.J. Watt

If the Packers do not take advantage of improving their pass rush with Watt — perhaps the Seattle Seahawks will. Both NFC teams mirror each other with a high-powered offense, but a feeble defense may hinder one another from advancing to the Super Bowl. In a deal for Watt to the Seahawks, the Texans would miss out on the chance to acquire a first-rounder, but obtaining multiple picks would be just as prominent.

Seattle's general manager John Schneider is no stranger to taking a significant risk, and appears willing to make any moves that will put his organization closer to their long-overdue second title with Russell Wilson. Perhaps, Watt would be that missing key.

The Seahawks are pretty solid at stopping the run but need a tremendous upgrade in their pass defense. Seattle has given up the second-most passing yards on the season (2,212), and the reason seems to be their inability to get to the quarterback. Seattle has only implemented pressure to the opposing team's quarterback on 20.1% of their dropbacks, while only recording a total of nine sacks.

The Seahawks pass defense may not become elite, but the disruption of Watt on their defensive line could be enough to limit the devastation they have experienced through the first seven weeks of the season.

Watt to the Big Easy for Brees' last dance

Texans receive: 2021 second-round pick and Marcus Davenport

Saints receive: J.J. Watt

Seven weeks into the season, the New Orleans Saints are not sitting near the top of the NFC nor their division when compared to recent years. A bevy of injuries have been attributed to their minor decline this season — mainly to their All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas.

However, the Saints have prevailed through the injury bug to march their way to a 4-2 record. If New Orleans can get healthy during the second half of the season, they will be in the running to represent the NFC in Tampa Bay for Super Bowl LV. But unlike the Packers and Seahawks, this could be the Saints last chance to recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy in what is likely Drew Brees' last dance.

The addition of Watt to the Saints would give general manager Mickey Loomis a chance to create the most disruptive defensive line in the league. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would be able to shift the five-time Pro-Bowler to the interior — allowing the Saints to trot out a d-line of Watt, Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrickson.

This trade would give Watt arguably the most help he has ever had on the defensive line — which would allow New Orleans to maximize what is left of his career.

This trade would have the Texans missing out on obtaining a first-rounder, but a sound-round pick would be just as valuable for Watt. However, Houston should consider adding a young prospect in a potential swap, and Marcus Davenport would be their best return.

Drafted in 2018, Davenport is a former first-round talent who can help transition the Texans into the post-Watt era. He has showed promise of a bright future through his first two seasons, but injuries have prevented the 24-year-old prodigy of San Antonio from establishing himself as one of the league's top young talents.

This season, elbow and toe injuries have limited Davenport to just a pair of games in 2020. Although there is an immense concern regarding Davenport's health, the Texans cannot pass on adding a player who has already registered 11.5 sacks and 31 quarterback hits through his first 28 career games.

Coty M. Davis is a reporter for ESPN 97.5 Houston/SportsMap covering the Houston Texans. He is also the co-host of Locked On Texans, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network. Follow Coty on Twitter @CotyDavis_24.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome