Despite all of the off-field issues that have surrounded the Astros this season (see: Aiken, Brady; Cosart, Jarred; Houston, CSN; Leaks, Computer; Porter, Bo), no one can really argue the fact that the team is markedly better than last year. Sure, that might be partly due to the fact that the 2013 'Stros underachieved terrifically, but improvement is improvement nonetheless. With a new captain at the helm, the good guys picked up their third win in a row, this one against the white-hot Angels that have given them fits all year.
What went well:
- The Houston nine jumped on Angels starter C.J. Wilson immediately, plating 3 runs in the 1st thanks to RBI by Dexter Fowler, Chris Carter, and Jason Castro. Wilson has been pitching like a flummoxed Little Leaguer lately, and tonight was no different.
- Brad Peacock was solid for 6.1 innings, finishing with a respectable line of 6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB and 2 SO. He's certainly not my favorite pitcher, but when he's effective, he's effective.
- Tom Lawless looked pretty cool as a first-time manager tonight, skippering a potent lineup and making the bullpen arms look good. Kevin Chapman and Josh Fields were excellent in relief.
What went wrong:
- The Astros were sporting a clean sheet until the top of the 6th when Gordon Beckham singled to left and was later driven in by an Albert Pujols fly ball that escaped Fowler. He pursued the ball in his typical nonchalant way, opening the door for LA.
- Howie Kendrick didn't have the best night of his career, but the Astros didn't escape his wrath completely. Kendrick will go down as Houston's top nemesis of 2014, as he added a double and a walk to his already gaudy numbers against the team.
What we learned:
- Is it safe to say that Altuve is the best second baseman in the league? Fans in Seattle and Boston might have different answers to that question, and frankly, I'm too tired to go into some big statistical comparison between Altuve, Dustin Pedroia, and Robinson Cano, but it's pretty obvious that Altuve has had an all-world season and should be considered among the game's best.
- Altuve also needs a nickname. Maybe he has one and I just haven't heard it yet, but my two suggestions are The Wee One and El Chato. Add yours in the comments.
- Jeff Luhnow said that Lawless will compete for the full-time managerial job, but is he to be believed? Interim guys are almost always sitting ducks, but I guess you can't argue with a guy that's batting 1.000, right?