Astros face a big test versus the second place Athletics at home
By Eric Huysman
There was a time where it seemed like nothing was going right for the Houston Astros.
There was a feeling recently that the Athletics would overtake them for first place, but they were only able to tie so far. I was not part of the panic button crowd. This team is too good. Coming back home on a five-game winning streak should help them play well at home, where they have struggled recently. In the last six-game homestand, the Astros lost five of the six games despite scoring as many runs as they allowed. All stats and records from Baseball-Reference.
The Stros scored 26 runs and allowed 26 runs, but take away the 12 runs that they scored in the one win, it wasn’t as pretty. Let’s look at the five losses on that homestand. They were outscored 25 to 14 by the Mariners and Rockies. Coupled with the fact that the A’s have a 45-16 record in the last 61 games and winning three of four in Houston recently.
There is company in the AL West, but hopefully the A’s stay in second place.
The two teams are set to play six more games this year, so the best way to stop the A’s is by beating them. Despite how close the two teams are in the standings, the Astros still have a winning record versus the A’s this year with a 10-6 record. The Stros have outscored the A’s 96-64 this year, but have struggled versus them at Minute Maid Park. With the 3-4 record at home versus Oakland, they have once again scored the same amount of runs at 33 each in those seven games.
Once again, take out the 11 run outburst in one of the wins, and it tells a different tale. The bottom line is that the Astros need to bring their A-game (no pun intended) to the three-game series that opens tonight. At the Oakland Coliseum, the Astros are 7-2 in 2018 outscoring the A’s 63-32. They need to find a way to get better production at home, which could come from the big four being in the lineup at the same time.
The big four hitters will play tonight.
It’s been a while since George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa have been in the lineup at the same time. We have seen the effect of Altuve’s return to the lineup has had to jumpstart the offense. Hopefully, Springer returning will extend the lineup further. The A’s also lost their most consistent starter in Sean Manaea for a few weeks, which is good for the Astros. Despite the 1-2 record and a 5.66 ERA versus the Astros, the lefty has been tough at times.
As my Talking Stros cohost said, the A’s have a rotation of pitchers who don’t have not had this level of prior success. They most likely revert to the mean as the season wraps up. Among the other AL West competition, they are for sure the most likely to challenge the Astros. How long can their starters continue this success with names like Brett Anderson, Edwin Jackson, Trevor Cahill, and Mike Fiers? With that being said, it’s been an impressive run for Oakland.
Hopefully, the Astros can play well in the remaining six games (three on the road) versus the A’s. This will be a way to control their own destiny. They will trot out Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and Dallas Keuchel versus Anderson, Jackson, and Cahill. The matchup favors the Astros on paper, but anything can happen, that’s why they play the games.