This weekend, the Houston Astros took on the New York Yankees in a four-game series that ended in favor of the Yanks, 3-1. Still, the leaders of the AL West are already looking forward to a potential meetup with the Bronx Bombers again in the postseason. (And if these two teams hold strong, that’s exactly what they’ll end up with.) This weekend was a tough one for the Astros. Only Justin Verlander’s pitching on Sunday helped Houston avoid the sweep and end their seven-game losing streak – the team’s longest since 2015.
The Astros are now 49-30 and leading the AL West by seven games, with the Texas Rangers in a not-so-close second place. It appears the Yankees are their biggest competition in the American League right now. And lest we forget, Houston did sweep them back in April at Minute Maid Park. Here’s what the Astros have going for them right now…
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Verlander is one of the best
The last time Verlander took an L pitching against the Yankees was in 2015. On Sunday, he put a halt to the eight-game Yankees win streak with a 9-4 beating in the Bronx.
With no more regular season games against the Yankees on the regular season calendar, reporters asked Verlander what he thought about seeing them again in the playoffs. The star pitcher noted that their two series against the Yankees both came early on in the season, but he still felt there was “Probably a good chance. I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to do so, both teams… [But] in this landscape of teams not trying to win, and a few teams trying to win, I think we both had an idea early on that we gotta see how we match up.”
Verlander once (sort of) proclaimed that he wants to be the Tom Brady of baseball. At 36 years old, he says he still feels great, so that’s definitely a possibility. One of his biggest strengths is keeping batters from getting on base. He has a WHIP of 0.75, one of the lowest in this century of baseball. This season, Verlander is working with a 10-3 record, 2.67 ERA, and 142 strikeouts over 114 innings pitched and 17 starts. He’s perhaps the biggest asset of this Astros team.
Their batting lineup is solid too
Back in May, one reporter boldly threw it out there that this year’s Astros lineup could be better than that of the 2017 World Series champs. (And he said that in May when star second baseman Jose Altuve wasn’t even hitting that well.) Houston has a lineup filled with players like Michael Brantley, George Springer, Carlos Corea, and Alex Bregman who rank among the top of the American League in OPS (on-base % plus slugging %), and Bregman and Josh Reddick were among the top three in batting average in the AL.
Right now, left-fielder Brantley leads the team in batting average (at .322) and hits (95), while third baseman Bregman tops the Astros with 21 home runs, 51 RBI, and a .388 OBP.
Oh, and Jose Altuve looks like he’s feeling 100% after Sunday’s game too…
Now that the Astros’ losing streak has broken, they’ve got 11 games to tighten things up and tally more wins before the All Star Break in July.
Any Worries for the Astros?
The Astros have a couple of injuries that are holding them back a bit right now, primarily shortstop Carlos Correa and outfielder George Springer. Correa has been out with a fractured rib while leadoff batter and MVP-candidate Springer has been rehabbing with the minor leagues since he strained his left hamstring. Springer could be back as early as this week, but Correa will be out until after the MLB All-Star Break. The upside of these injuries is that Yordan Alvarez has shown his true potential in the big leagues, hitting homers and RBIs when others couldn’t during this losing streak.
There’s also the trade deadline to think about. It’s likely that the Astros will look a little different by the time we get to the postseason.
And of course, the Yankees are out there lurking as they widen the gap between themselves and the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East. Yankees manager Aaron Boone had this to say about the Astros: “They’re obviously a great team. We may again cross paths – and for a lot more [at stake]. We always feel like we match up well with other clubs. If we’re playing our best, I always love our chances. You know you’ve got to bring it against these guys.’’
Man, we can’t wait for September! But right now, there’s plenty of excellent summer baseball action left! Shop Cheap Houston Astros Tickets!