There is little doubt in the minds of Houston Astros’ fans that the team as currently configured may well be the most talented and deepest in their history. There is no doubt in those same minds that this team has not played up to its potential this year. They have been very good, but have blown chances to be transcendent.
It is fairly easy to point to 3-4 games or more by each of their starters where lack of offensive support cost them a win. The bullpen has been overall good but has blown some games that had good starts too.
But that is not what this post is about. This post is about a team facing adversity and showing real resiliency. Tuesday and Wednesday’s wins over Seattle said as much about this team as their 12 game winning streak did.
The Astros had just lost five games in a row and looked bad in doing it. They had not lost more than three in a row so far this season. The last of those losses came against the Mariners and had narrowed their lead over the M’s to three games and it did not require a bunch of squinting to see the Astros being swept and leaving the Pacific Northwest with a wafer-thin one-game lead.
The Astros had lost team leader Brian McCann long term to knee surgery. Star SS Carlos Correa has been out more than a month. All World 2B Jose Altuve went down with a bum knee to help trigger the losing streak. The team went out and picked up a reliever Roberto Osuna with the dark shadow of domestic violence, which caused the players to have to handle uncomfortable questions leading into these critical games.
And then early in Tuesday’s game George Springer dove for a long line drive and caught a bum shoulder instead of the ball. It looked like the time for the team to collapse upon itself considering that most of those still in the lineup had been totally ineffectual recently. But over the next two games, the Astros received solid pitching, but more importantly big contributions from some of the worst recent offenders.
On Tuesday the Astros started off like many recent games by allowing a well-pitched game by Charlie Morton to go unsupported. But they came back with a 2 run homer by Evan Gattis and 3 RBIs including another 2 run HR by Josh Reddick and 3 scoreless innings by the bullpen for a 5-2 win.
On Wednesday they scored early and often on the way to an 8-3 win. Marwin Gonzalez who had not hit a HR right-handed this season hit two in this game. JD Davis and newly recalled Jake Marisnick both had two hits including Jake’s huge early dinger and both peeked over the Mendoza line. Max Stassi had been struggling behind the plate and at it, but put this game away with a huge 3 run HR. Dallas Keuchel settled down after early troubles and the bullpen nailed it shut as the Astros extended their lead to 5 games over the M’s.
The Astros could have folded like my parent’s old card table, but they bounced back from adversity and won the most critical games of the season to date.