How Houston Astros last glimmers of hope can provide decisive edge over stretch run

NOW OR NEVER

How Houston Astros last glimmers of hope can provide decisive edge over stretch run
Can Hunter Brown and Ronel Blanco lead the way? Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a big series win over the Tigers, as they head to Chicago to take on the White Sox Tuesday night. Unfortunately for Houston, even with the series win, they still lost ground to the division leading Mariners.

With the Astros nine games behind Seattle, and seven games behind the Twins in the Wild Card standings, time is running out for the club if they want to make a push before the All Star break and trade deadline.

Basically, the entire season is riding on this next stretch of games. But it won't come easy, even against weaker opponents. Justin Verlander is dealing with neck discomfort, missing his last start over the weekend, and Spencer Arrighetti was rocked by the Tigers on Saturday.

With no starting pitching ready to make the jump from Sugar Land to the big league club, Houston's five starting pitchers have no room for error.

And while the offense has been inconsistent this season, especially with runners on base, they do sport the sixth-best OPS in baseball.

If they're going to get back into this thing, a healthy Kyle Tucker and Verlander will have to be part of the equation. Tucker is still recovering from a bruised shin, and will have to make some rehab starts in the minors before returning.

Verlander, however, may return as soon as this week against the White Sox or Orioles. If JV returns and Blanco and Brown continue dealing, hopefully the club can fight their way back to .500.

But keep in mind, some key players are showing regression. Jake Meyers, Jeremy Pena, and Jon Singleton are not swinging the bats well right now. And Chas McCormick hasn't gotten going all season.

At some point, the club needs to give Joey Loperfido a chance to prove himself in the big leagues.

What do they have to lose?

Be sure to check out the video above as we discuss this critical stretch of games on the horizon for Houston, and much more!

Most Popular

Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM