Everyone who followed the Astros in the olden days remembers Milo and his "Blue Star" plays during the broadcasts. Every time someone would make a spectacular play in the field, he would always mention how he was putting a blue star on that play. It became a staple of every game. In honor of that, I am giving out my own stars weekly to different people, plays or events that had an impact on the organization in the previous week. It may be good or bad. It may be a star player or an inanimate carbon rod. If it had a bearing on the week that was, it has a chance for the list. The TCB Blue Stars of the Week.
Third Star-"Big Dreams"
If you haven't seen the documentary which debuted to the public on ROOT Sports this weekend, give it a watch. The parts about his chase for the team hits record and the batting title are probably known to most folks here, although the insight from teammates and executives definitely add insight. The part that is impressive is the background from his childhood and his homeland. The stories of how he learned the game. Hearing him tell the story of how hard it was to get a baseball to play with. How he would go stand outside the stadium of the local pro team and wait for a home run to leave the park, then leave the game to go practice because they had a ball now. They show the "field" where he practiced. It really brings perspective to how good most of us have it in the states. Also to hear him talk about his family, and how important they are to him during his offseason gives great perspective on a guy who is certainly a fan favorite.
Second Star-The Bullpen
Besides one meltdown by one pitcher in one game, the bullpen was steady this past week. The pen has personally been a bright spot this season. I don't have butterflies in my gut every time we hand the lead over to the relief corps. Over a total of 20 1/3 innings they struck out 19 batters, and only allowed 2 walks. Luke Gregerson pitched in 3 games, and gave up 1 hit and zero runs while striking out three. He was given the closer's role before the season started, and has not disappointed so far. Will Harris and Tony Sipp also held the opposition scoreless this past week. To me the star of the pen this week was Asher Wojciechowski. It was meaningless in the final outcome, but he came into a blowout game in the 6th inning and pitched great, giving up zero runs, 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out four. He was optioned the next day to AAA, but was called back up yesterday when Brad Peacock was placed on the DL.
First Star-McHugh the Strikeout Machine
So you have just lost the first two games of a series, and you want to know what to do to salvage a win. Easy, as long as you have a Collin McHugh on your roster. McHugh only went 5 2/3 innings on Wednesday night, but he made it count. Out of 17 total outs, 11 of them were strikeouts. (The remaining six outs included 5 grounders and one fly out.) That was about as good as you could ask for to stop a mini losing streak. The only problem with striking out so many is the pitch count gets high quickly. We were deprived of watching him work his magic for a couple more innings, and when McHugh is on I could watch him pitch all day.
Evan Gattis and George Springer getting off the home run schneid. ( I was at MMP and saw the Springer Dinger live. I honestly have never seen a ball leave the park faster than that one did.)
Beating the AL West. Last season in April they went 7-12 against the West, and so far this young season they are 5-4. This is all without the "power" bats really coming to life yet. If they start hitting like we hope, this could end up being a fun season. Out of 3 series against West rivals, we have won 2 of them (and are in first place...really.)