Maybe you saw that Fangraphs post this morning about how incredible the Astros’ offense has been. If you didn’t read it, take a second to check it out, it’s a solid read. If you don’t have the time, though, the summary is that the Astros’ 2019 lineup in pretty historic in how good it is, and especially in how so many different players have been contributing to that success.
It wound up being prescient of tonight’s game. The recent rash of injuries hitting the team left them with a lineup that might have had fans in the pre-season worried about the state of the season, had you told them it would be coming before the end of May: Derek Fisher leading off, Yuli at third and batting clean-up, Jack Mayfield batting sixth and playing shortstop, Tony Kemp in his fifth career start at second base, Garrett Stubbs making his major league debut behind the plate for struggling rookie Corbin Martin. But the Astros not only held on for the win in a back-and-forth match with the Cubs, they scored nine runs in doing so in a game that marked manager A.J. Hinch’s 500th career win.
Granted, Alex Bregman was probably the actual offensive MVP. He wasn’t on the field, instead getting a start at DH, but he did go 2-4 with two home runs, a walk, three runs scored, and three RBI. He was the first runner driven in in the bottom of the first (on a Yuli Gurriel double), he accounted for the second run with a solo shot in the third to bring the Astros back to within one after a rough second inning, and he returned the Astros to an 8-6 lead with his two-run dinger (to almost the same place in right field) in the sixth.
This man found his sweet spot. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/IIJfIuGAhG— Houston Astros (@astros) May 29, 2019
The pair of homers were Bregman’s eleventh and twelfth in May, most in the majors, and give him seventeen total on the year, tied for most in the AL.
Of course, the best storyline of the day was probably Garrett Stubbs, the catcher making his major league debut two days after his 26th birthday. Stubbs’s family were in the crowd, and revealed that the Astros were one of their son’s earliest little league teams as his father gave an emotional speech about how proud he was of his boy. Julia Morales even later mentioned that Minute Maid Park had run out of S’s and 1’s from making so many “Stubbs #11” jersey’s for his extended familial entourage.
Here’s Garrett Stubbs in his first @Astros uniform. He put on the real thing and played in his first Major League game today.— Julia Morales (@JuliaMorales) May 29, 2019
Photo courtesy: Stubbs family. pic.twitter.com/aamoXhdfv5
Stubbs didn’t disappoint his biggest fans, doubling in his first plate appearance, then singling in a tying run in the fourth before coming around to score on Michael Brantley’s two-RBI double. In total, he went 2-4 with a run and a run batted in.
4 in the 4th!#TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/f2h0rdrQXp— Houston Astros (@astros) May 29, 2019
In fact, it was something of a big day on the whole for the Astros’ super subs. Fisher, Mayfield, Kemp, Marisnick, and Stubbs accounted for the six non-Bregman runs on the night, as well as three RBI. Fisher went 1-4 with an RBI single, two runs, a stolen base, and a walk; Kemp went 1-4 with a run, a double, and a steal of his own; and Marisnick went 2-4 with a pair of doubles and both a run and an RBI. Michael Brantley also went 2-3 with a double and a pair of RBI, but we’re more used to that by this point. Kemp and Marisnick chipped in with their gloves as well.
Another day, another @JSMarisnick gem. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/yPAGug0qwX— Houston Astros (@astros) May 29, 2019
#KempinAintEasy#TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/678caBHOy0— Houston Astros (@astros) May 29, 2019
On the whole, it helped make up for another shaky Corbin Martin performance. Martin failed to make it out of the fourth inning, the third straight time he’s failed to reach the fifth. He allowed five hits and three runs (all earned) while walking three and striking out four. All runs came off of solo homers.
Josh James wound up getting the win for his 2.1 innings of relief, although he also caused some concerns along the way thanks to allowing two more home runs for three runs (one of those being David Bote’s second of the game). Those wound up being his only hits allowed, although he also issued a pair of walks while striking out four himself. Hector Rondón and Ryan Pressley threw an inning each, and both had to work their ways out of jams (Rondon allowed a walk and a hit in his inning, while Pressley worked around a leadoff double/advanced-on-wild-pitch combo by Bote). Osuna got a 1-2-3 inning for the save, though, which was a nice change of pace.
If you want to be negative here, there are a lot of things you can worry about, but I choose to stay positive. The Astros’ bench managed to club a division leader (behind a pair of good pitchers in Cole Hamels and Jon Lester, at that) into submission for the second day in a row. The series is already theirs, and the upcoming schedule looks easier than the last few weeks. If they can keep this up, the starters dealing with injuries should have plenty of time to heal up in the meantime.
With the win, the Astros move to 37-19 on the year, and have a 7.0 game lead on the A’s (who are currently losing to the Angels). After tomorrow’s series finale against the Cubs (Kyle Hendricks versus Wade Miley), the team travels out to Oakland for a three-game set.