Can’t Count the Houston Astros Out Anymore.
The Houston Astros have recovered from a horrid April to get back to a winning record for the first time since they won the first game versus the New York Yankees in 2016. They sit at 37-36, crawling back from the 7-17 record in April and 17-28 around the anniversary of the tombstone in 2005. The Astros have gone from being one of the worst teams in baseball to being a team that could think playoffs again in 2016.
Granted, the Astros faced tough competition in April but have performed well in May (17-12) and June (13-7). The Astros have gone 30-19 since April, so if they continue that pace, they could get back into the wild card race at the least and could go on a 2015 Rangers type of run to win the West. Since the Astros were 17-28, the Astros have gone 20-8 to sneak back into second place in the AL West for now.
Not only have the Astros returned to their winning ways of 2015, but they have also returned to their ways of winning after trailing late in the games. The Astros have a 7-4 record in extra-innings games this year, which is becoming too often an occurrence with how the offense has struggled at times. The Astros are leading the league in extra-innings runs per game with .15, for what that is worth.
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But looking at the overall season, the Astros are near the bottom with runs scored in the last two innings of games with .63 runs per game per Team Rankings. This shows us how the Astros faired earlier in the season facing the eighth inning guy and then the closer. However, for the past three games, the Astros have averaged 1.33 runs in the 8th and 9th inning. The Astros have been winning recently with late inning magic, such as the walk-off hit by Carlos Correa in the 9th inning Tuesday.
We can remember walk-off shots by Correa and George Springer, but as a whole, the Astros pitching staff is giving the Astros hitters a chance to get back into the game. The comeback kids are playing with the passion that they were during parts of the 2015 season when they are never really out of a game until the final strike. Huston Street is one of the decent closers in the game, but the Astros made him look like a rookie.
The magic has returned and next we will see if Club Astros makes a triumphant return now that the Astros are winning. Correa has thrived ever since being moved back into the cleanup spot in the batting order. Like Springer leading off, maybe Correa is best suited for the fourth spot instead of hitting third, at least at this point of his career.
The best thing about the Astros is that they are getting contribution up and down the lineup, unlike earlier in the season when it was only the first four hitters contributing. There is a different hero each game leading the Astros to victory. This weekend matchup versus the Royals will be a good barometer of where the Astros are as a team.
It is nice to believe that your team has a chance to win every game, that’s how Astros fans feel now. Let’s hope that the Astros have many more comeback wins, but getting an early lead and maintaining that lead would be better for the blood pressure. The biggest sign of the comeback kids will be how they play the Rangers for the rest of the year. Too bad there was no tombstone this year, would have made a good story now.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference Astros team stats page***