There is a new acronym to be added for use by the English-speaking sports fans. YIE. Yes It’s Early!
So this blog contributor will be the first one to say: YIE.
But, sometimes there is a feeling with a team, a coursing through the veins of a fresh transfusion of confidence and luck that cannot be explained. Certainly, what the Astros have done so far this season can be undone in the stretch of a tendon, the crack of a bone or a return to reality of a whole team. However, there is a lot to be said for a team not only getting off to a decent start in the season, but picking up momentum on the road.
YIE, but….Sunday’s win combined with the Angels’ extra inning loss gives the team formerly known as the Lastros (should we call them the Firstros?) a 2-1/2 game lead in the division. Let’s face facts, this 11-7 start with the division stinking it up is a best case scenario that nobody involved with this blog foresaw.
YIE, but… one of the things that is making one wonder long-term is the way the Astros are playing and the way they are winning. After a 4-6 start to the season that was only that good because of great pitching, the Astros have seven wins in the last eight games that are a blue print for how this team could be successful going forward. And that is by having many different heroes, having the bullpen pick up the starters, having the offense pick up the relievers and having the starters be (with one exception) stellar.
Here is a quick summary of the last 8 games:
- 4-0 Astros over Angels. After dropping the opener to the Angels, the Astros rode six great innings from Dallas Keuchel and three more from the pen, then got two late homers by George Springer and Robbie Grossman to even the series.
- 4-3 Astros over Angels. A solid effort by Scott Feldman (6 IP/2R), just enough bullpen and a big home run by Luis Valbuena to send the Angels packing with their heads between their legs.
- 7-5 Astros over Mariners. The bullpen picked up after a poor outing by Asher Wojociechowski, holding the M’s to 1 run in the last five innings and Jed Lowrie (2 RBI’s) and Valbuena (2HRs and 3 RBIs) led a late inning comeback from a 5-3 deficit. Magic seemed to be starting.
- 6-3 Astros over Mariners. Magic continued as Collin McHugh gave up three runs early, but held on until the Astros scored five runs in the eighth to overturn a 3-1 deficit. Jose Altuve‘s three-run double was the key hit in winning this one.
- 3-2 Mariners over the Astros. The only loss in the last 8 games was a shoulda, coulda, woulda as the Astros turned 10 hits (including Chris Carter‘s first HR of the season) and three walks into only two runs. Roberto Hernandez gave up three runs in seven solid innings, but the Astros left the tying run at third with one out in the ninth and missed the sweep.
- 5-4 Astros over the A’s in 11 crazy innings. The teams combined for no runs on nine hits through the first nine innings (including Shaft Keuchel’s brilliant two hits allowed in nine innings) and then combined for nine runs on 10 hits in the last two innings as the Astros somehow hung on for the win. Grossman, Springer and Marwin Gonzalez were the hitting heroes in this wild win in the rain.
- 9-3 Astros over the A’s. Feldman put in a workman 6.2 IP giving up three runs that might have looked better if he was yanked a batter earlier. Everyone hit including dingers by Altuve and Springer and the Astros won another series with a chance to sweep on Sunday.
- 7-6 Astros over the A’s. Another poor Wojo start rescued by five innings of one-run ball by the bullpen. Evan Gattis entered the game with one RBI in 17 games and knocked in four crucial runs including the game winner in two bases-loaded ABs. Oh, and Jake Marisnick shook off the rust of two games missed with an injury and jacked out two hits including a 400+ foot HR bomb, scored three and knocked in two more runs as the Astros swept the A’s for the first time ever.
So YIE, but…. there are signs that this could be one of those years. Like reliever Tony Sipp tying for the team lead in wins with two. Like three come from behind wins in the last eight games. Like blowing the lead in Friday’s crazy 5-4 game, but winning it anyway. Like being four games over .500 despite being eleventh in the league in runs scored/game.
So a few starter questions or statements here:
- Finish this statement, Yes it is early, but…..
- So, which of these areas is closest to where it will end up:
- The Astros starting pitching: fourth in the AL with a 3.63 ERA
- The Astros relievers: third in the AL with a 2.39 ERA
- The Astros hitters: eleventh in the AL scoring 3.89 runs/game
- Should Dan P be sent back to Astroholics Anonymous rehab for thinking this could be “One of those years”?
- How many wins will be needed to take the AL West this year?