If you follow the Astros with any vigor, you can’t help but be excited by the team’s recent play.
While everyone praises the Astros for acquiring Justin Verlander with two seconds to spare on August 31st, let’s not forget about another pitching acquisition.
His name is Charlie Morton.
Back in the offseason, the Astros’ front office realized the need for another proven starting pitcher. The pitcher they decided on was none other than Morton. At first, this signing was met with a noticeable amount of skepticism. Morton was coming an injury-shortened season the year with the Phillies. Two years and $14 million appeared to be a bit much if you didn’t pay much attention to Morton’s career.
Hint: Look up Morton’s improved velocity before a leg injury ruined his 2016 season. Yes, his injury wasn’t arm-related. Running out a play first base did him in last year. That’s kind of a big detail.
Anyway, the Astros turned to Morton on the mound to start today’s game against the Angels. And he delivered in efficient fashion.
Yup, 81 pitches. One run allowed. On a solo home run by Justin Upton. That’s efficient.
The even more impressive part was his pitch total through five innings.
Yup, 42 pitches. This means he threw 39 pitches in the sixth and seventh inning combined. While it’s a rather trivial note, I cannot helped but admire that level of efficiency through five innings. And his sixth and seventh innings were still solid.
We also witnessed Evan Gattis hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning off Angels pitcher Eduardo Paredes.
This was his first dinger since July 29th in Detroit. It’s been a while El Oso Blanco. And this blast helped put the game away for Houston.
We also saw a familiar face in Angels’ pitcher Bud Norris. He lasted only 3.1 innings, but he only surrendered one run. You may recall his stint in Houston when the rebuild picked up full steam. That was a rather forgettable time. But he’s craved out a role with the Angels so good for him.
The 2017 Astros are now one win behind the 1986 Astros (96) for the third-best in franchise history. The 1999 Astros posted 97 wins, so, the 2017 Astros may very well catch them to overtake second-best in franchise history. First place, the 1998 Astros, with 102 wins likely remains out of reach. But if this year’s team wins out, then there will be new regular-season best in Houston’s baseball history.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference and MLB.com**