5 significant reasons the Astros are rolling in the month of August
The Astros finished this week with a 4-1 record and won back-to-back series against the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels.
As it currently stands, Houston remains 2.5 games ahead of the Oakland A's in the American League West standings with 45 remaining contests this season.
During the month of August, the Astros look to pull away in the A.L. West standing and make the postseason for the 5th consecutive year.
Here are some keys as to how they can continue their winning ways.
1). The pitching has improved over the last few games as Houston only allowed a total of seven runs over their last 5 games. According to MLB.com, the Astros rank fourth in the league in ERA at 3.62 and their rotation is starting to shape up as the playoffs are approaching. This past week, the entire rotation threw at least five innings and one of them made a little history.
Pitcher Zach Greinke (11-3) tied Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez and with his 219th win against the Angels on Saturday.
Greinke and Lance McCullers continue to dominate on the road with a combined record of 13-1 this season. The two pitchers look to be the anchors of this rotation throughout the season and into the postseason as well.
2). Welcome back to the Astros Aledmys Diaz. Since his return from the injured list on July 27th, Diaz has increased his batting average from .283 to .301, and is hitting a solid .306 in the month of August.
His return to the team gave Houston some much-needed production at third base and at the plate. He is doing a great job holding the fort down until Alex Bregman eventually returns. (More on that later.)
3). Yordan Alvarez is having himself a fantastic month of August as well. The designated hitter/outfielder has a line of .356 AVG, .396 OBP, .689 SLG this month. He is coming off back to back multi-hit games against the Angles and looks to continue his hot hitting as September approaches.
4). Jake Myers made a name for himself in a big way Saturday night against the Angels. The rookie outfielder hit the first two home runs of his career, including a grand slam. He is the first Astros player to hit his first two career home runs in the same game since Lance Berkman did it in 1999.
Kyle Tucker, who also hit a grand slam Friday night against the Angels, was placed on the injured list for health and safety protocols. Thus, putting Meyers in right field. The team doesn't expect Tucker to return for at least a week.
Meyers has a .278 batting average to start his MLB career and will receive a good opportunity to prove he can be a productive player during Tucker's absence.
5). Houston was able to get two players off the injured list this week in Yuli Gurriel and Pedro Baez.
Gurriel missed only a handful of games with a sore neck and was back in the Astros lineup Saturday against the Angels. His neck injury was nothing serious, and the 37-year-old most likely needed a few days off to rest.
Baez made his debut for the Astros on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. He threw one inning in a relief appearance and struck out one batter.
The pitcher signed with the Astros back in January for a three-year deal and looked to become a key piece in the back end of the bullpen. With the addition of Kendall Graveman and the stellar play of All-Star closer Ryan Presley, this doesn't look to be the case this season. But having Baez in the bullpen does give manger Dusty Baker one more arm to use, and it's never a bad thing to have too much pitching, as the Astros have found out this year.
Finally, Alex Bregman told reporters on Wednesday that he is progressing during his rehab assignment, although it's taking longer than expected.
"I wish I could have two months ago been like, 'This is the day I'm going to be back playing,'" he said. "But it's just not the case with these types of injuries. Getting really close. I feel like everything is going in the right direction and continuing to improve."
Bregman has been out since June 16th, and the Astros hope to get him back sometime in September.
UP NEXT: Jake Odorizzi takes the mound Monday night as Houston opens a four-game series in Kansas City before coming home to take on the Seattle Mariners in a three-game series.