Astros have to wonder if history will repeat itself with Yankees in town

Astros have to wonder if history will repeat itself with Yankees in town
Could the Astros lose another star player to the Yankees in free agency? Composite image by Jack Brame.
Astros have to wonder if history will repeat itself with Yankees in town

The Astros failing to cap a three game sweep of the A's was a missed opportunity, but credit to Oakland for a day. Winning another series has the Astros four and a half games out front in the American League West. There's a lot of baseball left but if you are offered the Astros today at 1:3 odds to win the division (making them 75% likely to win it), taking them is the right play. Oakland is usually outstanding at getting more out of less, and one never knows how the injury bug is to bite, and lastly sports happens. Still, it's crystal clear that the Astros have the better team.

Now the Yankees are in for the weekend, presenting an excellent opportunity for Astros' fans to take the high road and greatly outclass the Yankees' fans who had nothing more creative up their sleeves and in their vocal cords than to chant vulgarities over nine innings for three games in a row when the Astros were in the Bronx back in May. There no doubt will be some Yankee fans inside Minute Maid Park, and it seems likely more vulgarities will ensue. Neither the language I use in everyday life off the radio nor my sense of humor are G-rated pure as the driven snow stuff. But there is time and place. A Major League ballpark is not such a time or place. It would be tremendous if Astro fan retorts were along the lines of "Kiss Our Rings, Kiss Our Rings..." or "En-joy Fourth Place, (bum, bum, BUM, BUM, BUM), Enjoy Fourth Place…"

I'm cautiously pessimistic.

The highlight pitching matchup of the series is Saturday night with Zack Greinke opposite Gerrit Cole. The Yankees last losing season was 1992. That's 28 consecutive winning seasons! They hit town this weekend at 44-42. Their supposed to be vaunted offense has been feeble much of 2021. The Astros have scored a whopping 130 more runs than have the Yankees. The Astros have played two more games. I'm pretty sure the Yankees wouldn't make up 130 runs in two games.

Could the Yankees target Carlos Correa in free agency?

Astros' MVP to this point? Carlos Correa. Carrying an 0 for 13 streak into the weekend, Correa has cooled off from the MVP level ball he'd played for over a month, but he has an outstanding season going starting with the critical ability that is availability. Correa has played in 82 of the Astros 88 games to date. He only missed two games in the short 2020 60 game regular season, but wasn't a good player. In 2017, 2018, and 2019 Correa missed 53, 52, and 87 games respectively. Only in 2016 has Correa stayed healthy and played well over a full length campaign. He was very good in '16, but not what 2021 Correa has been thus far. So…

Yankee shortstop Gleyber Torres has been awful this year. Even when hitting to potential he's not a good defender at short. The Yankees could miss the postseason for the first time since 2016. They haven't played in the World Series since 2009. Unless the Dodgers opt to move on from Corey Seager, the Yanks loom as the biggest spending team that could be in the market for Correa.

Are you ready for some football?

The Texans open training camp three weeks from today. Are you giddy with excitement? Didn't think so. What happens if Deshaun Watson shows up? I'm not sure he actually shows, but he has incentive to at least claim he's going to do so. If Watson holds out he incurs automatic fines of 50-thousand dollars per day. If Watson sends word that he plans to show, that creates multiple possibilities. The big one is making NFL commissioner Roger Goodell act, specifically by placing Watson on the Commissioner's Exempt List if the league wants no part of a Watson/Texans circus while the league investigation of all the sordid accusations against Watson continues. If Goodell places Watson on the list, Watson can't be a holdout and hence could not be fined. If on the list all season Watson would be paid in full. If Goodell chooses to not sideline Watson, do the Texans say "stay away," in which case they'd have to pay Watson, or welcome him in? In which case would Watson actually show or having had his bluff called hold out and forfeit 50K per day? As The Texans Turn. Right now, a pretty pathetic soap opera.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. So James Harden is in France for Paris Fashion Week. Taking advantage of again not being part of NBA Finals weeks. If not so focused on his task at hand one presumes Chris Paul would find this quite funny.

2. Here's hoping Dustin Poirier again dominates Conor McGregor, the way he did in January.

3. Best soap operas: Bronze-Days of Our Lives Silver-Melrose Place Gold-Dallas

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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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