Series Preview: Astros (20-12) vs. Giants (16-16), May 12 -13, 2015
The Astros have been on a roller coaster to start the 2015. Ten-straight wins, swept by the Rangers , and now a four game split with the Angels who currently sit in second place in the West. Houston is still firmly in first place in their division, and they are still the only team in the West with a winning record.
The defending World Series champions haven't had the same kind of luck as the Astros to start the season. The Giants were 9-13 in the month of April. They have picked it up in May, posting 7-3 record thus far.
The Giants outfield and third base looks much different than it did following the World Series. Kung fu panda is now wearing a Red Sox uniform. Hunter Pence is close to returning from a broken left forearm that he suffered during Spring Training. Former Royal Nori Aoki is starting for the Giants as former Astro Justin Maxwell.
San Francisco is without two starters, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. Both are on the 15-Day disabled list. Cain is dealing with a flexor tendon strain, and Peavy has a back strain.
Game 1: RHP Collin McHugh (4-0, 3.23 ERA, 1.64 WHIP) vs. RHP Chris Heston (2-3, 3.38 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
Game 2: LHP Brett Oberholtzer (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (1-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
This series would be much more interesting if a certain pitcher that Astros brought in this offseason was starting in Houston. But, Ryan Volegsong started on May 10 and is missing this series. After not getting the right 'vibe' from the Astros, Volegsong returned to the Giants before the start of the 2015. Volegsong's story added to the growing black cloud around the Astros front office that has been all but forgot with the Astros winning this season. Volegsong was lit up in April, giving up 20 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has rebounded in May, giving up just one run in 14 innings.
Now on to pitchers that are actually pitching this series. Collin McHugh has had a few rough starts but his streak of game without a loss is still intact. McHugh hasn't lost a game since last July. Doctor McHugh has gone at least seven innings in three of his last four starts. McHugh is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA in game at Minute Maid Park this season.
Chris Heston is making his eighth career start on Tuesday. He starts with a 2-2 record and a 2.77 ERA in April. Heston has stumbled in May, allowing six earned runs in 11 1/3 innings in May.
Brett Oberholtzer returns to the Astros rotation after getting blister during Spring Training. Oberholtzer was lit up in his first start with Triple A Fresno, allowing 7 runs in 2 2/3 innings. But in the second start, he held the El Paso Chihuahuas scoreless through five-plus innings before being recalled.
Wily veteran Tim Hudson has found a home with the Giants. After 16 years in the league, he won his first World Series title. Hudson has four quality starts under his belt this season, but he also has allowed five-plus runs in two other starts. He is 5-0 with a 1.24 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros.
The Astros offense is struggling overall. No hitter is batting over .250 in the team's last six games. Jose Altuve leads the team during that stretch with five hits. Chris Carter even though he is batting .150 in his last 20 at-bats, leads the team in home runs (2) and RBI (4) in their last six games.
Former Texas Longhorn Brandon Belt has been killing the ball, batting .524 (11-21) with five extra-base hits. Nori Aoki leads the team in at-bats (26) in the Giants last six games, but is batting .192 (5-26) with two walks. Former Astro Justin Maxwell is 5 hits in his last 22 at-bats, he is tied for the lead in RBI (4) in the Giants' last four games.
I admit I'm on the fence, I believe it's going to be a sweep. I'm just not sure which way its going. If the Astros get vintage McHugh, they'll have one game in their pocket with Obie' on the mound. Hell, why not. The Astros sweep the two game series with the Giants.