After a three-game skid, the Houston Astros got a much-needed win versus the 90-win Cubs.
The Astros’ rotation recently has become a weakness for the team with the starters struggling to limit the damage. Despite the loss Friday night, the Astros pitching staff has limited the potent Cubs offense in the first two games of the series. After getting shelled in the last two games of the Indians series, the staff has bounced back a little.
The Stros offense has struggled versus the Cubs pitchers as well, but they scored enough yesterday to get the win to even the series. In front of a sell-out crowd, Alex Bregman got the Astros on the board with his eighth homer. Since his rough start in the big leagues, Bregman has become the player we thought he was.
Bregman has had the hot bat recently, but he can’t carry the team on his own. Carlos Correa is sidelined with the shoulder injury and Jose Altuve has come back to earth a little. It almost seems like everything that could go wrong with the 2016 season is indeed going wrong. There are 20 games left in the season. It is all hands on deck.
With the tough stretch of games versus the top teams in games ending soon, the Astros will have better chances of making up ground in the Wild Card chase. Following Wednesday’s game versus the Rangers, Houston will play the schedule out versus the AL West opponents.
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Still in the playoff hunt?
At the time of writing, the remaining 16 games after the Rangers series are against teams with a worse record. The only team in contention that they will face is the Seattle Mariners, who they have won 8 of 13 games this year. Before we can really think about the playoffs, we have to play well tonight and versus the Rangers.
Speaking of playing well, they played yesterday with their star player Altuve under the weather. He should be fine for this evening’s game versus the Cubs. While the Astros are not mathematically eliminated for catching the Rangers in the AL West, it seems unlikely. They are now 8.5 games back with an elimination number of 11.
The elimination number is better with respect to the Wild Card, which now sits at 21. With the New York Yankees entering the playoff chase with a seven-game winning streak, the AL East is up for grabs. Between the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, and Yankees, one will lose the division, and two could be wild card teams. There is some parity in the American League, unlike the National League where the Cubs are the obvious top dogs.
Focusing on winning, the Stros need the win tonight and take two of three versus the Rangers.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***