By Will Martin
Baseball can be a funny game. At the plate you can fail 70% of the time and still be considered a success to bat .300.
If you are a cellar dwellar in a given division and can match records with a perceived contender since a certain date then kudos are in the wings for those who dare notice.
Having reached the halfway point of 2013 for the Houston Astros in their first season in the American League this much can be ascertained.
There are still a majority of Houstonians pissed off about the fact that THEIR Team of 52 years was the first to jump to the junior league.
Of course imagine the fun you would have dealing with the Cubs and Brewers on a regular basis.
Since day one it was this writer’s opinion that the situation wasn’t as bad as it appeared nor was the opportunity as good as you can expect. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. While not exactly household names a starting five of Lucas Harrell, Dallas Keuchel, Erik Bedard, Bud Norris, and Jordan Lyles. Collectively their records as starters a combined 21-25. Not good but not as bad as many experts have predicted.
Also worthy of note is that since May 15th team ERA for the Houston Astros has been second best (3.39) behind only Oakland (3.03) and better than the Angels (3.93) who happened to exact some revenge on the Houston Astros this weekend with a three game sweep.
It looks like the bats of Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and Mark Trumbo are starting to awaken. Just a matter of time before the the A.L West becomes a three team race.
Since May 29th a 15-14 record which is exactly what the Texas Rangers did in the same time frame. Only Oakland did better at 17-12. At the halfway point the Astros possess a record of 30-51. With 81 games remaining the Mets and Tigers of 1962 and 2003 have stopped applying the mojo from heaven. I said in the preseason that the 2013 Astros could reach the 74 win mark. I will stand by that as there continues to be no quit in this team.
With the All-Star game two weeks away you can enjoy a glimpse into the future when both George Springer and Delino DeShields Jr. will partake in the 2013 Sirius XM Futures Game on July 14th. Carlos Correa also has an opportunity to partake if voted in by the fans.
One question that will be a topic of debate as July and the second half of 2013 begins. At what point do Bo Porter, Jeffrey Luhnow and Reid Ryan decide to play call-ups from Double and Triple A to get some needed experience? Bo Porter with a birthday on July 5th by the way.
Chris Carter continues to lead the way in the longball department with 15 dingers. His 40 runs batted in are second only to Matt Dominguez with 44. That’s third in the American League and with 11 homers that ranks fifth among the hot corner fraternity. Jose Altuve continues to flirt with .300 while flirting with 100 hits the first half of the season. Jose is second among second basemen with 18 steals and first with double plays turned with 60!
In addition, Altuve’s .327 average when batting with two outs ranks 8th in the American League. Since 2011 Altuve has a .340 average against lefties which is fifth best in the American League. In 75 games Mr. Altuve has reached base in 65 of those games-an 87% rate much like the odds in favor of the Vegas casino! It would behoove you to catch an Astros game if only for that one reason. Jose Altuve plays the game the right way!
Take away a horrid combined by Philip Humber, Jose Veras and Brad Peacock (1-15) all of a sudden there is a team in Houston flirting with .500 (29-36).
With the sweep of the Astros by the Angels this weekend a homestand now falls to 1-4 with a four game visit by the Tampa Bay Rays. July might very well begin with a whimper instead of a bang. Again, keep in mind that with each passing month the Astros have improved little by little (8-19, 10-18, 12-14). Following this pattern perhaps a 14 win month in July awaits.
Note: Due to a death in the family Carlos Pena was held out of Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Angels. Pena will not play Monday night either. In addition Justin Maxwell now on the seven day (disabled list) due to concussion like symptoms.
While fans of Houston now lick their wounds from this unmemorable week here is your upcoming schedule:
7/1 vs Rays 7:10PM
7/2 vs Rays 7:10PM
7/3 vs Rays 7:10PM
7/4 vs Rays 1:10PM
7/5 @Rangers 7:05PM
7/6 @Rangers 6:15PM
7/7 @Rangers 2:05PM