Astros: Time to Improve on the Road
By Cody Poage
Coming off a 6-4 home stand is nice and all, but the Astros must win on the road as well.
Let’s be honest for a minute: the Astros are something else on the road. And I don’t mean that in a good way. Not one bit.
The Astros are currently 4-11 on the road. That is simply not acceptable for a team that boasts itself on playoff aspirations in 2016. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect your team to be dominant on the road. But it would be nice for the Astros to at least become respectable. But they were hardly that last season.
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Don’t forget that last year’s team started on the road 15-8 last season before finishing 33-48. That is 18-40 over their final 58 road games. That smarts when you are in the hunt for October. Thank goodness for that home record last year.
Needless to say, this road trip holds much importance for any hopes the Astros have of turning this season around in the early going. Taking on two of the top five teams in baseball in the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox is not the same walk in the park it was in 2015 when each of team underachieved. For example, the Red Sox have jumped out to a 21-13 record, which ties the Baltimore Orioles for first in the AL East. And did you see how many runs Boston scored in their three-game bout with the Oakland Athletics? Let’s just say that there were 55 runs scored over the course of that series. And 40 of those were from the Red Sox.
A quick plane ride to Chicago to take on the 23-12 White Sox is next. Oh, they are also in first place in their division. So yeah, the Astros have a steep hill to climb if they want to catch the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers in the AL West standings.
But all hope is not lost. The Astros are coming off a respectable home stand that stopped the bleeding for the time being. After a forgettable April, the starting rotation has started to turn the corner with solid pitching performances throughout the past week. Lance McCullers is scheduled to make his 2016 debut in Boston this weekend. Four Astros have maintained a batting average of .278 or higher in the month of May (Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, Carlos Correa, Marwin Gonzalez). So the needle is definitely pointing up entering Thursday.
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The question is how long that needle will continue pointing up. If the Astros play their next seven games like they did their first 15 road games, then this team is in trouble heading into June. But a great opportunity is in front of the Astros. A respectable road trip, say a 4-3 or 5-2 split, would be a major confidence builder. It could also allow the Astros to gain a game or two on the Mariners and Rangers.
**Statistics & schedule information provided by Baseball-Reference & ESPN.com**