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With Diaz trade, Astros get a cheaper version of Marwin Gonzalez

Aledmys Diaz was an important pickup for the Astros. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

At first glance when you see the Astros trading a prospect for a shortstop, Astros fans start wondering what is wrong with Carlos Correa and what is going on with thier team? Is his back or thumb so bad that he may need surgery? Are they thinking of trading him so that Alex Bregman can take over? Thankfully neither of those things are behind this savy baseball move orchestrated by GM Jeff Luhnow. The fact of the matter is, Marwin Gonzalez is probably going to get a big offer from another team and the Astros are not going to match it. With that in mind, the team went out and found his replacement and when I say he is the spitting image of Marwin, I'm actually not kidding.

Aledmys Diaz is a 28-year-old shortstop by trade, but he can play third base, second base and he can play the outfield as well. Sound like anyone else you know and have grown to love? Aside from not yet trying his hand at first base, Diaz is a mirror image of Marwin. He is younger, has similar stats and is going to be far cheaper than Gonzalez, who is in the process of talking to teams and waiting for proposals in free agency. Diaz is 6'1" and 195 pounds, while Gonzales is thw same height and 10 pounds heavier. The similarities don't end there if you start comparing offensive stats over the past season as Diaz average was .263 while Marwin was at .247. The Blue Jays infielder had two more home runs, 13 fewer RBI's and a whole spread sheet full of offensive and defensive ratings and statistics that fluctuate giving each player slight advantages. Take a look at this side by side comparrison of the two players done by Devan Fink, Baseball writer for SB Nation's Beyond the Box Score:

The biggest key is that Diaz only made $2 million dollars last year and is under team control. Jeff Luhnow told a pool of reporters that Diaz "...Has got some versatility, got some power and can do a lot of things.  He went on to say, "It seems like it's an opportunity for us to improve our team. He can play short, he can play second, he can play a little bit of left, can play third. This is a guy about as versatile as any of the other guys on our roster. He's a good hitter, and we think he can be better. He's still coming into his prime." In other words, welcome to H-town, Marwin Jr.

It's a foregone conclusion that barring some incredible hometown discount, Marwin is going to break the bank and hit the jackpot in free agency and no Astros fan should begrudge him for cashing in. It's better to have had him and reaped the benfits of his outstanding play for your team than to never have had him at all. From his everyday availability and versatility to his propensity to come up big in the biggest moments, Marwin is and was a pro's pro for manager A.J. Hinch and the Astros. Who will ever forget his home run in the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series off Kenley Jansen that tied the game and change the complexion of the entire series? He was a key reason the team brought home Houston's first ever World Series title. For that alone he should be an Astros hero for life, regardless if he ever puts on a Houston uniform again and if he doesn't, at least there is hope that the team may have his replacement ready to go in 2019. 

 

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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