TAKING A SWING

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change

Alex Bregman should move back up in the order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Astros have scored 190 runs this season, the thir\rd highest total in baseball. They are averaging 4.87 runs per game, putting them eighth overall in the MLB. But 78 of their runs have come in 9 games against two of the worst teams in the AL (White Sox - 3 games, 27 runs and Athletics - 6 games, 51 runs ). That’s a whopping 8.6 runs per game average versus those two teams.

In the other 27 games? The Astors are averaging 4.1 runs per game. That would put them tied for 21st in baseball. So while the 190 runs looks great on paper, it feels more like fools' gold to me.

And while it seems as if some of the bats have woken up (welcome to the party Marwin Gonzalez - who is slashing .333/.385/.458 over the last seven days), I think it might be time for AJ hinch to explore a lineup change, specifically moving Alex Bregman back to the 2 hole.

On the surface Bregman’s numbers are admittedly underwhelming. His .259 batting average and .399 slugging percentage aren’t great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Bregman has been doing “the little things” at the plate that make a huge difference.

His .369 OBP is second on the team, his 11 doubles are second on the team, he has the 2nd fewest strikeouts (21) on the team among hitters with over 100 plate appearances (Altuve has 20), but most impressive to me are his 23 walks, good for first on the team and it’s not even close (Reddick is second with 19...I know that surprised me too).

Oh did I mention Bregman is also 1st on the team with 3 steals?

I think moving Bregman back to the No. 2 hole in the lineup could end up having similar results that moving Springer to the leadoff spot dead a while back. What better way to increase run scoring on a team than to have traffic on the base paths, and the numbers prove that Bregman can provide that as much as anyone else on the team.

And while I understand that moving Correa and Altuve down a slot means they will get a few less at bats, I think it's more than acceptable to do so since it will also create more run producing opportunities for them.

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Houston drops the game to Arizona

D-backs outslug Greinke and Astros to take series opener

Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

With the series win over the Rangers by taking two of three games in the middle of the week, the Astros welcomed the Diamondbacks to Minute Maid Park for a three-game weekend series, Houston's final three regular-season home games. Here is how the opener unfolded:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3.

Record: 25-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zac Gallen (2-2, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luis Garcia (0-1, 2.53 ERA).

Houston scores first, but Arizona grabs a lead against Greinke

Houston would get on the board first on Friday night, with George Springer reaching base in the bottom of the first on an error, moving to second on a walk, then to third on a single, as the Astros loaded the bases with no out to threaten a big inning. Instead, they would come away with just one run, with Springer taking home on a wild pitch, grabbing the 1-0 lead, but leaving runs on the table.

They doubled their lead in the bottom of the third, getting a two-out RBI-double by Kyle Tucker to make it a 2-0 Houston lead. The D-backs responded in the top of the fourth, getting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before a three-run homer by Kole Calhoun off of Zack Greinke would put Arizona in front, 3-2. Greinke would finish one more inning before Houston would move to their bullpen, striking out the side to bring his total to nine on the night, making the bad fourth inning the one blemish on his night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros tie it, but D-backs take the opener

George Springer would get Greinke off the hook in the bottom of the fifth, leading off the half-inning with a solo bomb to tie the game at 3-3. Luis Garcia was first out of Houston's bullpen and retired Arizona in order for a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh but would allow a leadoff single, RBI-triple, and wild pitch to bring in two runs. He would face two more batters, allowing a double and getting a strikeout, before Dusty Baker would come out to get him, now down 5-3.

Blake Taylor would make his return from the IL after Garcia, getting back-to-back outs to finish the inning. He continued on in the 5-3 game in the top of the eighth, but allowed a one-out solo homer to Calhoun, his second of the night and fourth RBI. That made it a 6-3 D-backs lead, which would go final as Houston would go scoreless after Springer's home run back in the fifth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Saturday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Luke Weaver (1-7, 6.70 ERA) for Arizona and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.22 ERA) for Houston.

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