How the Astros can make franchise history this weekend

How the Astros can make franchise history this weekend
3 times before the Astros have won 12 in a row. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

These days the Astros are a scalding hot knife, their opponents one stick of butter after another. Their 11 game winning streak has the Astros on pace to win 101 games this season, and with a shot Friday night to tie the franchise record for longest winning streak. Their chances are good. The Astros are good, the Tigers are bad. Framber Valdez pitches for the good team. Valdez has been fabulous (Frambulous?) over five starts since belatedly starting his season. The bad team pitches Wily Peralta whose career is running on fumes. If on Saturday the Astros are going for a record 13 straight, Lance McCullers has the ball working opposite Tigers' top pitching hope Casey Mize.

Three times before the Astros have won 12 in a row. The first time came in 1999, their final year where home was the Astrodome. The streak came in September when the Astros were in a tight National League Central race with Cincinnati. After the 12th win the Astros had a four game lead with 15 games to play. But then over their next 11 games the Astros went 2-9. The Reds caught them with five to play and then took a one game lead by beating the Astros before more than 54-thousand at the Dome (on a Tuesday night!). The next night the Astros responded behind Mike Hampton to beat the Reds and make it a tie with three games left. The Reds then lost the first two games of their season ending series at Milwaukee, while the Astros split two with the Dodgers. So up one game with one to play, in the last regular season game ever at the Dome, Hampton pitched on three days rest, the Astros scored four in the bottom of the first and cruised to a division clinching 9-4 victory. Hampton finished the season 22-4, still the franchise record for wins in a season.

The second 12 game run occurred in 2004. That was Roger Clemens's and Andy Pettitte's first season with the Astros. At the All Star break with the club plodding along at .500 (44-44) the Astros fired Manager Jimy Williams. Phil Garner was hired, and out of the break the Astros promptly went 12-16 to sit 56-60, 19 and a half games behind the division leading Cardinals. They were within seven games of the Wild Card spot, however. Going into play August 27th they were still seven games out (behind the Cubs) when the Astros ripped off the 12 straight wins, as part of an amazing 36-10 finishing kick to snare the Wild Card.

The most recent 12 gamer was in 2018. Nine different pitchers had at least one win during the streak. How many can you name? Answer below in Buzzer Beaters.

Going streaking!

The subject of winning streaks gives me this year's reason to bring up something that has always been amazing to me. The longest NFL winning streak is 23 games, the Colts did it spanning two seasons. Led by Peyton Manning they were outstanding. The longest NBA winning streak is 33. The 1971-72 Lakers rolled to the championship. The longest NHL winning streak is 17 by the then two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The longest MLB winning streak is 26. The New York Giants did it. Within that same season the Giants had a separate 17 game winning streak. Two winning streaks that totaled 43-0. The Giants finished fourth in the National League! 43-0 over the two winning streaks, in all their other games the Giants won 43 and lost 66.

Rockets secure the No. 2 pick

After a season that produced zero meaningful wins the Rockets got a pretty good W in Tuesday's NBA Draft Lottery. They didn't hit the jackpot by nabbing the first pick, but getting number two beats the heck out of losing the pick and getting number 18 in return which would have happened if the Rocket pick had fallen at number five (which had a 47.9 percent chance of happening). With the Detroit Pistons likely selecting Cade Cunningham number one, the Rockets' choice seemingly is a three horse race among lead guard Jalen Suggs, wing Jalen Green, and mobile seven footer Evan Mobley. The Draft is July 29.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Tony Sipp two each, one per for Chris Devenski, Charlie Morton, Will Harris, Lance McCullers, Dallas Keuchel, and Collin McHugh.

2. Game seven Friday night. The New York Islanders at the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Winner to the Stanley Cup Final. It needs to be a close game of course, but if it is there is nothing in sports with more relentless second to second intensity than an NHL game seven. The winner plays the Montreal Canadiens for the Cup.

3. Greatest "Did you know they're Canadian?" actors: Bronze-Ryan Gosling Silver-William Shatner Gold-Christopher Plummer

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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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