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Astros: Five key takeaways from series win over Rangers

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 01: Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros reacts after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 01, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 01: Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros reacts after hitting a three-run home run in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Minute Maid Park on September 01, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Here are our five key takeaways from the Houston Astros series win over the Texas Rangers.

It wasn’t particularly easy, and it certainly wasn’t pretty at times, but the Houston Astros managed to come away with a series victory over the Texas Rangers in the teams’ first meeting of the 2020 season. Thanks to good pitching and some timely hitting, they ended their homestand on a high note.

The first game was an utter disappointment as the team blew a ninth-inning lead and lost in extras thanks to some awful defensive miscues. But a great pitching performance won the second game, and the offense busted out with eight runs in Thursday’s finale. In the end, you can’t ask for much more than a series win.

Now the Astros will hit the road to play the Angels, A’s and Dodgers, so it’ll be a key trip for them for certain. But for now, here are our five key takeaways from this series against the Rangers.

Uncle Mike is Rangers’ Daddy

Michael Brantley was an absolute monster in this series to the point that Rangers pitchers might be having nightmares about him. He hit a three-run homer and an RBI single on Tuesday and followed that up with a two-run homer on Wednesday, driving in all but one of the team’s runs in the two games combined.

He finally got some help on Thursday but he still did his part, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. All told, he went 6-for-12 with a walk and nine RBIs in the three-game set. He raised his season average from .288 to .318 and his OPS from .818 to .942.

Altuve Back on Track Before Injury

Before leaving Thursday’s game with right knee discomfort, Jose Altuve had raised his season batting average to .224 by hitting safely in all three games. He was 4-for-10 in the series, which is another good sign that he appears to have come out of his slump.

Unfortunately the severity of the knee issue is yet to be determined. Altuve is set to undergo an MRI, and it’s important to note that this is the same knee on which he had surgery after the 2018 season. Fingers crossed here, Astros fans.

Valdez, Javier Continue to Grow

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Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier both looked impressive in this series. Valdez completed seven innings for the fourth time in his past five starts and struck out eight batters while allowing three runs. His season ERA sits at an impressive 2.58 and he’s looking like the No. 2 starter behind Zack Greinke.

Javier turned in the longest outing of his career so far, going 6.2 innings and allowing just one run on two hits and a pair of walks. He’s now 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA on the season and continues to grow and mature as the season goes on. He may be carving himself a permanent spot in the rotation.

Pressly Induces Heartburn

Ryan Pressly was on a nice run until he served up a game-tying homer to Elvis Andrus on Tuesday. He did bounce back to nail down the save on Wednesday, so thankfully he redeemed himself. But that 4.26 ERA is hardly noteworthy for a closer, and the Astros need him to be more consistent if he’s going to remain in the closer role.

Tucker Cools Off

Kyle Tucker was going to have to cool off at some point, of course, and he finally did in this series. After being on such a tear for a couple weeks, he managed only two hits in this series. It’s nothing to be concerned about, of course, as there’s no way anyone could sustain what he was doing. But now we’ll see how he adjusts.

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