Houston's performance on the road in 2019 has not matched recent years

Have the Astros lost their edge on the road?

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Despite an amazing comeback attempt that came up just short on Sunday, the loss dropped them below .500 on the road in 2019. Although overall the Astros are still in decent shape overall at 13-8 after 21 games, their recent struggles to win games on the road, especially this past weekend in Arlington, are something to take note of. Houston is 7-8 away from Minute Maid Park so far this season, a record that, if kept at that pace, could spell disaster for the Astros' season.

One of the trademarks of the excellent 2017 and 2018 campaigns was their success on the road. In 2017 they went 53-28 (.654 winning percentage) and in 2018 they did even better, going 57-24 (.704 winning percentage). The current pace of .467 would have them finishing a terrible 38-43 on the road, which would simply be too much to overcome even with a great record at home.

It Starts with Pitching

Other than Justin Verlander who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA on the road, the rest of the rotation has shown unease as visiting pitchers, with Gerrit Cole (1-3, 5.64 ERA), Collin McHugh (1-2, 6.91 ERA) and Wade Miley (0-2, 4.50 ERA) all posting some concerning numbers playing away. We saw two of the biggest offenders of this in Cole and McHugh's dreadful starts in Arlington this past weekend where they combined for 17 earned runs over just seven and two-thirds innings. Luckily, the bullpen has been relatively strong both at home or on the road, something they'll need to continue for the rest of the year.

Hot and Cold Offense

Despite a few high run totals in some big games on the road, the Astros currently sit at a +6 run differential as the away team in fifteen games, a considerable gap from the +14 they have after just six home games. In addition, after being at the top of the charts on offensive runs per game in away games in 2017 and 2018 by averaging over 5 runs per game, it's been a slower, though not terrible, offensive start on the road for the Astros in 2019, averaging 4.13 runs, a number which itself was just largely boosted with the ten runs on Sunday afternoon in the loss to the Rangers. The offense will need to find a more steady and consistent rhythm to make sure they aren't wasting good starts from their pitchers and are able to back up a starter who may have a slightly poor day.

Have to Win Division Matchups

It's one thing to lose three of four against the Rays to start the season, but the Astros will have to take control of their division series this season to ensure that a team within their division doesn't make their playoff position harder or even nonexistent. Houston looked great when they went to Seattle and swept the Mariners, but splitting with the A's in Oakland and going 2-4 against the Rangers in Arlington could spell trouble if they don't flip the script on those teams in the remaining matchups this season.

Small, Road-Heavy Sample Size

All the above being said, it's still just been 15 of 81 road games they will play this season, and on top of that, the team can be given some benefit of the doubt of being road-weary considering only six of their first twenty-one games have been at home. This could all easily be a temporary dark spot on their record that they erase with a couple of great road trips before we even get to the halfway point in the season. I'm willing to bet they shrug off these recent road woes and get it back on track.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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