STOP MELTING DOWN

Patrick Creighton: Astros fans should be happy right now

George Springer and the rest of the Astros will start hitting soon. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If I can steal a quote from Aaron Rodgers for all nervous Astros fans right now, it would be this:

R-E-L-A-X

There’s no reason to think they won’t be at their rightful place atop MLB at the end of the season.

I know they’ve lost three straight.  It has happened before. It will happen again.  It’s no big deal.

I know they aren’t hitting a lick right now.  It’s called a team slump. It passes. Consider the lineup.  You don’t really expect the whole team to be cold all season, do you?  

Realistically, when the team slump ends, a team streak will start.  This team can put up eight runs a game when they hit normally. Just wait until they are hot.

George Springer isn’t going to hit .224, Alex Bregman won’t bat .212.  Right now Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, and Derek Fisher are all riding the Interstate, and Yuli Gurriel just came back from wrist surgery.  

This team won the World Series last year, O Ye of Little Faith.  Have some confidence.

Yes, they’re “only” 10-7.  Believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

When you look at great teams of recent history, generally there’s anywhere from 2-4 hot streaks, and the rest of the year they hover around .500.  

For example:

1984 Detroit Tigers

The Tigers went 104-58 and won the World Series.  They got off to a 35-5 start, and had another 11-1 run later in the year.  That means the rest of the season they were 58-52. Close to .500 ball.

1986 New York Mets

The Mets went 108-54, and won the World Series.  They had three noted streaks during the year, 18-1, 16-3, and 11-2.  Those three hot streaks combined for a 45-6 mark, which means they were 53-48 the rest of the season, or just above .500.

1998 New York Yankees

I chose this team because they not only had an incredible record but because of the fact the Astros lineup is so deep, and that was one of the hallmarks of this Yankees team.  

These Yankees went 114-48 and won the World Series. They had four pronounced runs:  25-4, 20-4, 16-2, 15-2, which combined for a 76-12 mark. The rest of the season, the Yanks were 38-36.  

Are you sensing the pattern yet?

Here, let’s look at one more team that everyone reading this should be familiar with.

2017 Houston Astros

The reigning, defending, undisputed World Champions finished 101-61 last season. They had four distinguished streaks: 10-2, 14-3, 13-1, 14-3, combining to go 51-9.  They went 50-52 in the other games that year. How did it work out? (See the first sentence in this paragraph for a reminder).

Yes, the Astros are scuffling right now, and essentially haven’t been able to hit a beach ball for three weeks.  They are still 10-7. They’re playing near .500 ball while they struggle, and then the hot streaks will come.

By the way, have you noticed the revamped rotation?  You know, where three starters have ERAs under 1.40? The one that is striking batters out faster than trolls can post on Twitter?  

Take a deep breath.  R-E-L-A-X. This team will be just fine. The bats are asleep right now, but we all know what happens when you wake a sleeping giant.

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Straight Heat” on SB Nation Radio, which can be heard locally 9p-12a CT on SportsMap 94.1FM.  Look for his new show “Late Hits” coming to ESPN 97.5 weeknights 7-9p, debuting April 23rd.  Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

 

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After rallying in the ninth inning in Game 1 to take the pivotal opener of this best-of-three ALWC series, the Astros were in the driver's seat to try and end the series on Wednesday with another win at Target Field. Here is a quick rundown of Game 2:

Final Score: Astros 3, Twins 1.

Series: HOU Wins 2-0.

Winning Pitcher: Cristian Javier.

Losing Pitcher: Cody Stashak.

Houston gets the first hit and first run in the fourth

Through the first three innings, neither team could get a hit off of Jose Berrios or Jose Urquidy, though the Twins did load the bases in the bottom of the first on two walks and an error, but Urquidy would strand the runners before getting 1-2-3 innings in the second and third.

Meanwhile, the Astros lineup was retired in order in three perfect innings by Berrios. That changed in the top of the fourth when Houston would get back-to-back two-out walks to set up the first hit of the game, an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Dusty Baker makes another early call to the bullpen before Twins tie it up

Urquidy was able to keep the 1-0 lead by working around a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth, the first hit for the Twins. He returned in the fifth, allowing a leadoff single before a strikeout for the first out. Dusty Baker would pull another early hook, like Greinke the day prior, dipping into his bullpen early to end Urquidy's day at just 76 pitches in the fifth. His final line: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 76 P.

Brooks Raley was who Baker called on to face the top of the Twins' lineup. He would walk his first batter, putting runners on first and second, get a strikeout for the second out, then allow an RBI-double to Nelson Cruz that almost scored a second, go-ahead run. Instead, the runner was out at home thanks to a terrific defensive play by Carlos Correa, bulleting the ball to Maldonado at home, who made a great tag to save the run and keep it tied 1-1.

Correa homers, Astros advance to ALDS

After Raley completed the fifth inning for Urquidy, Cristian Javier was the next reliever out to begin the bottom of the sixth. He would toss a 1-2-3 frame, sending the tie game to the seventh. In the top of the seventh, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a long, loud two-out solo home run to center-field, putting the Astros back in front 2-1.

Javier held on to the one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh by working around a leadoff walk, then returned for the eighth. He would get through it scoreless, despite allowing a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz, who would be pinch-ran for by the speedy Byron Buxton. After a strikeout for out number two, Javier would catch Buxton between first and second base in a rundown, getting the big final out of the inning.

Houston added insurance in the top of the ninth, getting two on base before an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, his second of the day to make it 3-1. That left things up to closer Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance of the postseason. He would notch the save, advancing the Astros to the ALDS for their fourth-straight year.

Up Next: The Astros will now have a few days off to travel to the west coast before starting their ALDS with the winner of the A's / White Sox ALWC series. Game 1 of their ALDS will be on Monday, October 5th, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, with start time TBD.

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