Unsung Astros

Short-handed Astros are showing us why we should #NeverSettle

Rondon is making his case to stay in the closer's role. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

There’s a difference between being disappointed when a star player gets hurt and giving up hope. Which category were you in? Let’s rewind a little bit.

  • May 29: Brian McCann lands on the DL with right knee soreness.

McCann is replaced with Federowicz. One starter on the DL—not bad.

  • June 26: Carlos Correa hits the DL with back soreness.

This one hurts, but it’s okay. We’ve got bats to spare.

  • July 28: Jose Altuve get sent to the DL with a right knee injury.

Jose Altuve hits the DL for the first time in his career, and it comes when we drop three straight to the Rangers. Nice.

  • August 3: Chris Devenski goes to the 10-day DL with left hamstring tightness.

A reliable arm from the bullpen joins relief pitcher Jandel Gustave on the DL. Okay, that’s enough.

  • August 4: Lance McCullers Jr. leaves game, is placed on 10-day DL the following day with elbow discomfort.

Down goes a pitcher from our impressive starting rotation that’s been used consistently from opening day.

  • August 6: George Springer sent to the DL with a left thumb injury.

Seriously?

 

Welcome back. It’s been tough for the defending world champs when it comes to injuries, but have you given up on them? Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t.

They’re still winning games.

Starting July 28, when Altuve left the lineup, the Astros are 6-4. With a couple of tough losses in that ten-game stretch, they’re still winning some important series, including those against the Mariners and the Dodgers.

The Astros also maintain the second-best record in all of baseball, only behind the Red Sox, staying ahead of last season’s pace. With Carlos Correa hopefully returning soon, the team will have even more help in continuing that pace.

Players are taking on positions that they’re not necessarily used to.

Gurriel has started at second base only three times in his MLB career—both of them were this season. Bregman has also returned to shortstop, a position that he hasn’t played in much since coming to Houston. These guys are helping manager AJ Hinch be creative with these lineups with several starters not playing.

Players like JD Davis and Tyler White are also seeing their names on the lineup cards a lot more often in these unusual lineups. White has more than earned his spot in the lineup recently with some important hits in crucial innings. The 27-year-old has nine hits including Tuesday’s go-ahead homer in his last seven outings with the ‘Stros.

The pitching has been excellent. Yes, even the bullpen!

We’ve talked about a few names from the bullpen this season—in both good and bad lights—but right now, it’s about Héctor Rondón. He’s appeared in the closer spot a lot in recent games and has managed to impress many. In his three appearances in the month of August, Rondón has racked up three strikeouts with no earned runs.

It’ll be interesting to see how McCullers’ injury will play out, but in the meantime, the Astros are keeping their pitching in a good place with an MLB-best team ERA of 3.00, despite missing guys like Devenski and McCullers.

This is a team that can win another World Series.

All in all, we can be a little bit pissed at the baseball gods for how these injuries have stacked up. We can also look forward to the return of these injured players. What we cannot do is count this team out. They’re proving to us with each game that we should never settle and to expect every bit of fight they have in that clubhouse to be laid out on the field day after day. This is the kind of team you need to win back-to-back championships.

 

 

 

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

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

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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