By Will Martin
Over the course of a baseball season there will be many highs and lows, ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, would’ves, could’ves, and should’ves.
When you have no where else to go but up, chances are the laws of karma begin to fall into your lap.
It isn’t so much how you start but rather how you finish in a given season whether you are a wire to wire division winner or a wild card that catches fire when October arrives.
If you have been in the cellar since the beginning of April in the case of the Houston Astros then this past week is one you look back on with pride and purpose.
Two straight series won on the road in California! Something that had not happened in two months. Four wins in six tries after a 4-19 clip since July 18th.
For the second time in a week Brett Oberholzer provided a quality outing in Anaheim with the help of a three run blast by Matt Dominguez off ex-Astros reliever Juan Gutierrez . This after an intentional walk to Carlos Corporan in the seventh inning for a 7-5 Astros victory.
Oberholzer and Jarred Cosart have both provided four straight quality starts for Houston since coming into the Majors. Bo Porter continues to speak about the improvements his ballclub continues to strive for.
“We have been playing really good baseball, even the last few series that we didn’t fare so well and didn’t win the series,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “We’re swinging the bats really well. Our starting pitching continues to do a good job. I felt like we ran the bases really well this series and got a lot of big hits to give us some extra cushion as well.”
In improving to 3-1 Brett Oberholzer likes the confidence when taking to the mound.
“I think we’re playing with a little swagger, a little confidence about ourselves,” Oberholtzer said. “All of our starters have been giving our team a chance to win, and when we can get some runs like that — What was it? Seven runs? — that should be able to get the team a win.”
If it weren’t for an overturned out call Saturday by the umpires in Anaheim we’d be talking about a three game sweep for the Astros. Newcomer LJ Hoes had his second straight three hit game in the lineup and was the recipient of the 9th inning out call in a 6-5 ten inning loss Saturday night.
“We’re playing well as a team,” Hoes said. “The pitching staff has done a good job keeping us in the game and guys are swinging the bat really well. We’re doing everything we can to win games and have been playing well as a team lately.”
Indeed they have. Last week the four victories were by scores of 5-4, 2-1 in Oakland before getting shut out 5-0 in the finale. Friday night Houston enjoyed a 5 rbi night by Chris Carter with a dinger and an 8-2 win along with Sundays 7-5 victory.
If you’re tracking numbers the Astros in 2013 are 16-23 in 1-run games and 9-14 in 2-run games. One number being discussed amongst Team Porter is the possibility of going 22-17 the rest of the way and not having a 100 loss season. Maybe the Astros pull it off, maybe not.
The Astros now finish up a nine game road trip with three in Arlington with the Texas Rangers. Texas now having lost two of three to the Mariners in late innings. This could be a case where Houston catches Team Wash at the right time and proceed to take a third straight series on the road. Making a case for finishing out the season with pride and a modicum of success.
The record reads 41-82. Thumbs crossed this team of upswing can reach the magical 63-99 by seasons end with a strong finish. An eight game improvement over 2012. Hey, no one (except yours truly) saw the comeuppance of the Pittsburgh Pirates this year. Look at how that turned out!
Numerically Matt Dominguez and Chris Carter lead the way in the RBI and Home Run department respectively with 62/60 and 21/16. Juan Castro and Jose Altuve follow closely with 46 and 41 ribbies. Now until October 1st look for that quarter to flirt with 80-100 RBIs and 28-30 taters.
In the last 17 games the Houston Astros have a team ERA of 3.50, good for 4th place since 7/31st. If the math adds up correctly four wins a week will lead to that 63 win mark, no problem.
I’m told great seats are still available for this week’s matchup with the Texas Rangers in the ongoing battle for the Silver Boot bragging rights. Something tells me Bo Porter and his kids may reek a little havoc in Arlington, Texas for a change.
8/19 @Rangers 7:05 PM
8/20 @Rangers 7:05 PM
8/21 @Rangers 7:05 PM
8/23 vs Blue Jays 7:10 PM
8/24 vs Blue Jays 6:10 PM
8/25 vs Blue Jays 1:10 PM