The Astros are the tale of two teams.
In June the Astros were the Big Orange Machine. Better than the Big Red Machine. Hell, better than the 1927 Bronx Bombers, with a 142 wRC+.
In July the Astros are the second worse hitting team in the AL, with a .214 batting average and an 86 wRC+
So who are the July Astros? They remind me of the 2005 Astros, a dominant pitching team, with just enough offense. Their 3.35 team ERA is second in the AL in July.
In June the Astros were pounding opponents into the ground. In July they are 13-7 thanks to stellar pitching but despite anemic hitting.
Today’s game was typical for July. The Astros won with only four hits.
Luckily, this weekend the Astros’ opponent was the only other team hitting worse in the AL in July, the Rangers. In three games, the Astros only got 17 hits. But the Rangers managed only 13.
Today’s box score says the mound hero for the Astros was Zack Greinke. He got the W, completing six innings, and allowed only one run on an Eli White homer, and five hits.
But the real winning pitcher today was Cristian Javier.
Javier came into the game in the seventh after Greinke had managed to load the bases with no outs and the Astros protecting a precarious 3-1 lead.
Javier got the crucial first out without any damage by striking out White. And he got the Astros out of the inning unscathed with a double-play grounder by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Javier pitched a perfect eighth inning, closing it out by whiffing Joey Gallo on three pitches.
As usual, Ryan Pressly was lights-out for the save.
The Rangers lost their 12th game in a row today, but at least they broke their 80+ inning streak of never having a lead with the White homer in the fifth. But the Astros re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning with an Abraham Toro two-run homer, his fifth.
The Stros added their third run after Joely Rodriguez walked two batters with one out, and Kyle Tucker smacked an RBI line-drive single. It was one of only four hits for the Astros all day.
Tomorrow the Astros head West to take on a surprisingly good Mariners team, currently 53-46. Luis Garcia goes for Stros.
Box score and videos HERE