The Houston Astros have vowed that they will never settle after winning their first World Series in 2017.
While there is still a long way to go before we can call the Astros back to back champs, every win gets them closer. The Astros are about to wrap up a three-game series versus the AL-leading Red Sox in Boston. There is very little chance that the Astros can catch up to the Red Sox, but they need to stay ahead of the charging Athletics.
Winning seven games in a row has helped them maintain the 3.5 game lead with 20 games left in the regular season. That’s what they did last for the last two games, even though the offense struggled early versus David Price on Friday night. They eventually got to him to take the lead thanks to Tony Kemp‘s pinch hit.
Last postseason, Price was returning from an injury and was not in the playoff rotation. However, his presence was felt in long-relief, but the Astros were able to overcome and advance to the ALCS. Price looked under control until the seventh inning Friday night, striking out ten hitters.
They also got off to a semi-slow start yesterday versus lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, meaning they did not score in the first inning. They scored all five runs in the second through the fourth inning of the game, getting the 5-3 win despite the drama in the ninth inning. It’s also good getting the win in front of your Astros’ fans, despite this being a road series in Boston. This team is so exciting to watch and fans want more. Many Astros fans made the trip to watch this series versus the Red Sox and today’s Texans opener in Foxborough.
Unfortunately, the A’s won again, beating the lowly Rangers 8-6, despite the Rangers comeback in the eighth inning. At this point, the Astros are on track to face the Indians in the ALDS. If the A’s pass them up, they would have to beat the Yankees in the Wild Card game. While I would trust Justin Verlander in a winner take all game, I rather not go that route. Thankfully, the remaining Astros schedule is pretty favorable, especially the way they have played.
The remaining schedule.
Road: One game versus Red Sox (97-46)
Road: Three games versus the Detroit Tigers (59-83)
Home: Three games versus the Arizona Diamondbacks (76-66)
Home: Three games versus the Seattle Mariners (78-64)
Home: Three games versus the Los Angeles Angels (70-72)
Road: Three games versus the Toronto Blue Jays (64-78)
Road: Four games versus the Baltimore Orioles (41-101)
While it would be great to keep the winning streak alive, winning series should be the goal from now on. Outside of tonight’s game, only the Mariners and Diamondbacks have a winning record as of September 9th. At the time, the final series versus the Orioles on the road didn’t seem like that big a deal. With the A’s battling the Astros for the AL West, this could be an easy opponent to face on paper with 101 losses already.
They don’t play baseball on paper.
The Astros have been there, the only motivation for a bottom of the division team is to act as a spoiler. They may feel that they owe it to the A’s to play their best baseball, but it has been a long season since the two teams last faced. I try not to get worked up when the team is losing or lose my composure when they are on a winning streak. I know this team is built to win for 2018 and the near future.
Outside of the wins in Boston, the emergence of Josh James has been something to follow. Seeing Tony Kemp become that clutch player that you can trust in October. We are seeing an Alex Bregman that no-one expected to be this good, the Astros are playing good baseball. While it’s not a must win tonight, any win in September will help you reach the playoffs.