If you told an Astros fan before the season that the Astros would be the AL West Champs they might have yawned at you and said “But of course”. If you told them they were in for a tough struggle and would only pull it out in the last week of the season their interest might be piqued by the tale. And if you told them the Oakland A’s were their closest challengers and outplayed the Astros for more than 1/2 the season they might have gone “Huh?”
The week of 9-17 through 9-23 in review
The Astros began the week with a solid 4.5 game lead over the unbelievably hot A’s. The Astros started the week in a wobbly fashion losing 2 out of 3 to the Mariners at home. But they cranked things up with a 3 game sweep of the Angels. If they do clinch this division – the 9 run rally that turned a 5-1 loss to a 10-5 win on Saturday against the Halos may be the game that kicked them over the top. The A’s came so close to cutting the lead to 2 1/2 games, but by the end of the week, the lead was jacked back up to 4.5 games and the magic number to clinch the division was down to three.
It’s kind of unfair. Fans wait forever – up to 56 seasons (depending on our age and when we began cheering for them) for their Houston Astros to win a World Championship and then after they do, in a blink of an eye, the celebration is over and the angst over the next season returns. Is this why Yankee fans are sometimes the most miserable human beings on the planet. The 27 championships are in the rear view mirror and here they are in misery because their team falls short of the apex. Nine-year drought! OMG!!!
The week of 9-10 through 9-16 in review
The Astros lead was a tenuous 2.5 games over the A’s heading into this big week. The Astros swept the Detroit Tigers on the road and came back from a first game loss to win a three-game series with the Arizona D’Backs. The Astros in reversing a season-long trend took four of their five wins on the week by one-run margins. The A’s split the week 3-3 and the Astros finished Sunday with a 4.5 game lead over Oakland and now face the next week with a magic number to clinch the division of 9.
Despite returning a big chunk of the 2018 World Champions – there is no denying that this year’s version is a far different club than the one that took home the trophy and rings. This comes home very clearly when we review the players who led in individual categories in 2017 and the players who are leading those categories with 2-1/2 weeks left in the 2018 season.
The week of 9-3 through 9-9 in review
Heading into this past week with the Astros playing a Twins team that was recently performing well and then playing the best team in the majors in the Red Sox on their home turf, holding serve with a 2.5 game lead over the Oakland A’s would have seemed acceptable. But after winning the first 5 games of the week and holding a 3.5 game lead headed into Sunday, it was a bit disappointing to end the week exactly where they started.
The Astros had a 14-12 record in August, which at one time was 6-8, so the final number is not the end of the world. The Astros’ starting pitching along with losing Lance McCullers came down to more human numbers. The revamped bullpen was overall good. The hitting was a mix of the terrific and the terrible. So there was a lot to consider in giving out the Chippy Awards for the month of August.