Houston Astros Gearing Up for Second Half!

The Houston Astros continue to improve behind young bats and arms. Photo Courtesy: Tom Hagerty
The Houston Astros continue to improve behind young bats and arms. Photo Courtesy: Tom Hagerty

By Will Martin

A four day respite now come and gone for all of Major League Baseball.

The push to autumn will now start to grow in urgency beginning with what fans refer to as ‘The Dog Days Of August’.

2013 was a dogged one for Houston as they would not see win #40 until August 16 and #41 until August 18.

In being a mark for average play since May 11 the Astros are just about at .500 with a 29-30 record.

Then there’s an off day this Monday before traveling to Oakland for a three game set.

The last time the Astros were this successful in the wins department at the All-Star break: Go back to 2009 (44).

I’ve talked at length about the prowess of what Jose Altuve has meant to the Houston Astros and Bo Porter. Here’s a breakdown of what to appreciate about the efforts of George Springer:

1. Although heading to Chi-town for the battle of the top two Rookies Of The Year. Springer managed to go deep 19 times along with driving in 50 runs. Both are franchise records!

2. With three more swings of the bat a new Rookie Home Run Record for the Houston Astros shall set by the kid. 21 was the record set by Lance Berkman back in the day (21).

3. George hit his first Homer of 2014 on May 8th. His 19 taters tie him with Nelson Cruz. Each trails Edwin Encarnacion who has 22 in this stretch.

4. 7 Home Runs in 7 Games! The first rookie to achieve this feat since Tigers Rudy York turned the trick in August 1937. Only one other Astro has shown this feat of strength/power. Fans of Morgan Ensberg remember 2006.

5. That Homer and RBI total are both #2 in the A.L. for rookies. Trailing only Jose Abreu (29-73).

While streaking is something looked down upon in most parts, what Houston has manged to do in 2014 is perhaps the most telling tale of a team turning things around. Their recent three game sweep of Texas in Arlington (Last done in June of 2003) now places the Astros at 6-3 recordwise against the Rangers.

A current five game win streak against Texas is their best ever. Not bad when you consider a 2-17 record when playing Texas in 2013. Numerically if you cut that deficit and 15 game season ending skid in half there’s a 75 win season.

Astros fans can also get excited about a veritable plethora of minor league talent looking to join the bigs in a few years to come. (Along with Jose Altuve) players like C Max Stassi, RHP Nick Tropeano, IF Gregorio Petit, IF Matt Duffy, SS Nolan Fontana, OF Preston Tucker, LHP Tommy Shirley, SS Carlos Correa, LHP Josh Hader, CF Teoscar Hernandez, 2B Tony Kemp, C Roberto Pena, CF Brett Phillips, RHP Tyler Brunnemann, SS Chan Moon all took part in All-Star games of the Triple A, Texas League, California League, and Midwest League variety.

Sunday’s Future’s Game at Target Field also featured Oklahoma City’s CF Domingo Santana and RHP Michael Feliz from Quad Cities. A game where Rangers prospect Joey Gallo went deep with a 2-run blast.

65 games or so to go, a one month advantage with the win total. The Astros have a chance to make some headway in fourth place. If Anaheim or Seattle start to sputter it won’t surprise me if we see a dash at third place in the West.

Keep an eye on Chris Carter for the remainder of this month. He was your homer leader for the month with six. Jason Castro in the two spot has also done nicely with a .400 batting average. 2 doubles, a triple, a homer and 4 rbi’s.

Two starters with 9 victories and a chance at 15 each. Dallas Keuchel and Jarred Cosart are the anchors to this team. May both reach the magical 15 win plateau.

As this post is getting typed some news on the newest #1 Draft Pick Brady Aiken (from Jeff Luhnow) as of 5:30 pm July 18. That day was the deadline for getting drafted players signed.

Jeff Luhnow:

“We are disappointed that we were not able to reach an agreement with Brady Aiken today. As an organization, we devoted a great deal of time and resources to these negotiations. Despite our best efforts, a deal could not be reached.

“The Astros offer to Brady was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case. As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term.  Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball’s rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions.

“Despite not reaching a deal today, we are pleased with the bright young talent we obtained in this year’s Draft. We wish Brady and his family all the best moving forward.”

The Astros unable to reach agreements with two other unsigned draft picks: Jacob Nix and Mac Marshall. Overall, Houston signed 36 of their 41 selections.

Now onto the second half of 2014 for the Houston Astros…and the rest of Major League Baseball.

Upcoming Schedule
7/22   @A’s              9:05 p.m.
7/23   @A’s              9:05 p.m.
7/24   @A’s              2:35 p.m.
7/25    vs Marlins    7:10 p.m.
7/26    vs Marlins    6:10 p.m.
7/27    vs Marlins    1:10 p.m.