A successful 5-1 road trip ended Sunday with a 4-3 loss in Boston which snapped a 10-game winning streak, the second such streak of the young season. Houston now sits at 31-16 through Sunday with a whopping eight-game lead over Anaheim in the AL West.
Pressly: Part of effective trio
(c) New York Times
After taking 3-1 and 7-3 victories the first two nights, Houston had little to prove Sunday. Sorry, one-run losses after 10-game win streaks just don't bother me that much.
The Astros have been largely immune from the injury bug but it has started to creep up on them lately. MVP candidate George Springer, whose two-run homer was the key blow in Friday's victory, will be sidelined Monday with back stiffness after being pulled from Sunday's action. Reports are that this has built up the past few days and the three strikeouts on Sunday just inflamed the situation. It does not seem he would be out for long but backs can be tricky and there are two outfielders in Round Rock that are as hot as Springer should he need time on the IL.
Meanwhile, Jose Altuve is close to beginning a rehab stint in the minors after being forced out of action with a sore hamstring. Aledmys Diaz filled in admirably as his replacement until he, too, was hurt in Boston. Tony Kemp, a converted second baseman from Vanderbilt, filled in for the fill-in and made some key plays on Friday. Yuli Gurriel played second on Sunday but Diaz appears ready to return to action.
Reliever Joe Smith received permission to begin throwing last week and he is building up for a possible June return from achilles surgery. The Astros have the luxury to be patient with all their injured players and not rush them back into action until all systems are 'go'.
Houston is a ridiculous 16-4 (.800) at Minute Maid this season. This will be tested over a 10-game homestand beginning Monday that features the 21-24 Chicago White Sox, the just-visited 24-22 Boston squad and the 26-17 Chicago Cubs wrapped around the Memorial Day weekend and the official start of summer. This will almost close out an already successful 13-4 month of May which has been a brilliant month for Springer, Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley among others.
Brad Peacock (4-2) will get the homestand started when he faces the Pale Hose in Monday's opener. He'll be matched against Jordan Guerrero, a 15th-round draft pick from Oxnard, CA, who will be making his big league debut and is (surprise!) a lefthander. Guerrero is 1-4 with a 7.82 ERA this year at AAA Charlotte so you know Springer will hate sitting this one out.
Justin Verlander (7-1) gets the Tuesday start against Dylan Covey (0-2) who is coming off a 5-14 campaign a year ago. Gerrit Cole (4-4) takes the hill on Wednesday night against Ivan Nova (2-4) and rookie Corbin Martin (1-0) is slated for Thursday's finale opposite their ace, Lucas Giolito (5-1). All games are listed as starting at 7:10 pm Central.
Finally, a salute to reliever Ryan Pressly who has set the major league record with 39 consecutive scoreless appearances and is not done yet. You might have thought Mariano Rivera would have compiled more than that. It's interesting that Pressly, who received a big contract extension back in March, gave up a run in his Astros debut against the Rangers last July after being acquired from Minnesota, allowed another tally two weeks later against Seattle and has been lights out ever since. He has fanned 47 batters in 38 innings during his streak.
I remember the 2003 season where Jimy Williams used to send out the trio of Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner to get the final nine outs of any game they led after six innings and it almost seemed unfair. Thus far, the 2019 trio of Will Harris, Pressly and closer Roberto Osuna have allowed just three earned runs in 56 innings pitched for a stingy 0.48 ERA. Take a bow, gentlemen.
- Bob Hulsey