It was a short week after the All-Star break. The Houston Astros rested up and came out ready to play against the Rangers this weekend. With wins in Friday’s and Sunday’s games, the Astros are now down 4 – 5 in the Lone Star Series.
Thankfully for both teams, this is starting to look like a real rivalry after Saturday’s fracas. Larry wrote about it here: Astros and Rangers: Benches Clear in Near Brawl. The Astros sorely need a rival, and one can imagine that Major League Baseball likes it when things get heated in the battle for the Silver Boot.
Since there were only three games, this shouldn’t be too hard to pick out this week’s winners.
Pitcher of the Week: Dallas Keuchel
Dallas Keuchel came out ready to play in Sunday’s matchup. After starting for American League All-Stars, Keuchel was focused and prepared to deal against the group from Arlington.
The Rangers didn’t stand a chance against Dallas. He pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 13 batters and allowing only two hits. It was the kind of performance Houston fans were looking for as Keuchel was intense and focused and completely in control. Some might say it was masterful.
As our friends over at Astros Daily tweeted:
Here’s another gem:
Yeah, Astros fans were having fun with this one!
Hitter of the Week: Carlos Correa
Another week in the book for The Natural. Carlos Correa was the spark plug in the Astros’ offensive engine. During the weekend series, Correa went 5-for-11 (.455), with four runs, a double, a home run, three runs batted in, and two walks.
He also made a ridiculous stop on a ball that was smoked by Prince Fielder to get the last out during Friday night’s win.
The rise of Correa is just the beginning of their nightmare. Arlington should fear “The Ranger Slayer” for many years to come.
Redemption Player: Luis Valbuena
If Keuchel is the master of painting corners, Luis Valbuena is the master of the bat flip. After seeing Rougned Odor agitate and irritate everyone inside Beltway 8 with his borderline cheap plays, bat flips, and lack of baseball etiquette, Valbuena put on his own bat-flipping exhibition in Sunday’s 10-0 win.
Val, who may bat flip during a walk if given the chance, went 4-for-5, with a double and four runs batted in. His hitting display was remarkable because Valbuena has been an all-or-nothing hitter all season. The most satisfying/amusing part of his performance was his exaggerated bat flip after every hit. It seemed as if he was mocking his fellow countryman with every connection. Houston fans ate it up.
Valbuena was a huge part of Sunday’s win over the Rangers. Hopefully, that’ll get his bat working, as he finished the day hitting .207 on the season (he raised it from .197).
That’s it for this week. Keep checking back with Climbing Tal’s Hill as we cover the upcoming trade deadline and Baseball Hall of Fame induction.
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