Happy Father’s Day. And a Happy Father’s Day it was for all the fathers of the Astros, and the fathers of Astros fans, and their sons, and the mothers and daughters too for that matter.
The Astros are on an 11 game winning streak, and they have just completed a 10 game undefeated road trip. It is only the seventh time in history that a team has had an undefeated road trip of a duration of 10 games or longer.
Some cynical people will scoff, claiming the streak has come against lesser opponents. It is true. But this is not football, where the best teams routinely win 80% of their games, or the NBA, where single teams sometimes field an entire all-star roster nowadays. This is baseball. This is the grind. This is the sport with the 162 game schedule, where even the best teams seldom win 2/3s of the time, and the worst teams win more than a third.
To travel to Arlington, and brave the smell and the heat, to go to Oakland, and have to hear those banging drums, and then prevail in Kansas City, with heat indices over 100, to best your opponents in every game under those conditions, takes some special mojo.
Welcome home Astros. You are heroes.
During this 11 game victory streak, the Astros have scored 81 runs, more than 7 per game. In the last 14 days the Stros have a .303 batting average, with 21 home runs, and a WRC+ of 151.
During the streak they have four players with OPS’s above 1.000: Marwin Gonzalez, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and of course, Evan Gattis. Jose Altuve and Tony Kemp are just under. Evan Gattis has had 21 RBI, 6 home runs, Bregman 11 RBI and 4 home runs, and Correa 8 RBI and 3 home runs, even after missing four games during this stretch.
Let’s talk Correa, no doubt, the star of today’s game. Carlos Correa got the Astros off to another hot start by plating the Astros’ first run with an RBi single in the first. Yuli Gurriel would give the Stros a 2-0 lead with his own RBI single in the following at bat. Carlos would finish with a homer an 3 RBI.
The Royals did not intend to just surrender on this hot day in Kansas City. They tied the game in the bottom half of the first after Astros starter Lance McCullers gave up two walks and a single, and then Alex Bregman’s errant throw on a play at the plate eventually allowed the Royals to score two unearned runs.
In the fourth inning the Royals put the Astros in the unusual situation, of late, of having to play catch up, thanks to a Hunter Dozier 2 run homer.
This inning could have been much worse, if not for the magnificent assist by Marwin Gonzalez from left field, which got Mike Moustakis by a hair at home plate.
Upon review the call stood, and a little later Mike Moustakis was ejected by umpire John Trumpane.
The Astros would inch a little close, scrounging a run in the fourth on an Evan Gattis single, a Marwin Gonzalez walk, and a Brian McCann RBI single, all with two outs.
The Royals’ twenty two year old rookie pitcher, Brad Keller, pitched well for the Royals, allowing only 3 runs in six innings against the red hot and powerful Astros lineup.
The Royals lead would hold until the eighth when the Astros would close out the undefeated road trip. Leading off the inning, Carlos Correa would hit a cruise missile to left field, a solo home run clocked at 111 mph, and his second such shot in two nights.
Keep throwing inside high fastballs to Correa, MLB.
Yuli Gurriel kept the inning going with an infield single and then came to the plate (cue the John Williams score), just up from Fresno AAA, Tyler White, the Great White Shark. First pitch, double down the left field line. “Oh that shark babe, has such teeth dear.”
And who put the Astros back on top? Need I say? Not a monster shot this time, but a gentle giant bloop to right field worked just as well, as Evan Gattis delivered the go-ahead run with his third hit of the day. Pinch runner Jake Marisnick would then score on Marwin Gonzalez’ RBI single.
The bottom of the line up came up big again this game, gettin 10 hits and 4 RBI.
The Astros would add an insurance run in the ninth as Carlos Correa would sacrifice Alex Bregman home, who had doubled to open the inning.
It was only the third time this season the Astros would win after trailing after 7 innings
After a very shaky first inning in which he allowed 2 walks and 2 unearned runs, Lance McCullers settled into a very good groove, eventually completing 6 innings, allowing 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks. He had 9 K’s. Eventually he found his command and his stuff, throwing 97 pitches, 61 for strikes and 17 of those the swing and miss variety.
Tony Sipp, Ken Giles, and Hector Rondon completed the 7th, 8th and 9th innings respectively, each allowing no hits and no runs. For Rondon it was his fourth save, and he has not allowed a run since May 13th in 13 appearances.
Tony Sipp got the win, his second against no losses. Sipp has also not allowed a run in 13 appearances, and has surrendered only 1 run in 17 appearances going back to April 21st.
Special thanks to Astros TV announcer Todd Kalas for calling Correa’s home run today just seconds before he slammed it.
Good karma dude.
Correa and Gattis are now tied for the RBI lead on the Astros with 47 each.
The Astros are now 48-25 and lead the Mariners in the AL West by 1 1⁄2 games.
The Astros come home against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday. Game time 7:10 CDT. Gerrit Cole faces Ryne Stanek.
Box score and video here.