Sunday's series finale at Minute Maid will be forever remembered by Corbin Martin, a Houston native who grew up an Astros fan. The righthander made his big league debut and his teammates gave him all the cushion he would need. George Springer and Alex Bregman smashed two homers apiece in a 15-5 blowout that clinched a sweep of the hated Rangers and sent Houston back on the road following a 6-1 homestand that opened up a 6-1/2 game gulf between themselves and the rest of the American League West.
Martin: Happy homecoming
(c) Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle
Martin, the fourth-ranked Astros prospect, struck out nine in 5-1/3rd innings, allowing just two runs to earn the victory before a Mother's Day crowd of 41,027 which included many friends and family members of Martin. No doubt he had more friends after his performance than before.
Martin was called up when second baseman Jose Altuve was placed on the IL with a hamstring injury. Collin McHugh, who had some rough starts recently, was sent to the bullpen and Martin took his rotation spot. What happens when Altuve returns is an open question but it would seem Martin might bump Josh James or Framber Valdez back to AAA Round Rock.
Meanwhile, Springer made sure Martin didn't have to sweat the results, smashing two homers and going 5-for-5 at the plate which pushed his season batting average to .321. He now has 15 dingers which puts him on a pace for 59 if he kept it up all year.
Not to be outdone, Bregman belted two homers of his own and drove in five. He now has 12 homers after a slow start and has driven in 31. Carlos Correa and Tony Kemp added three hits each on Sunday to pace an 18-hit assault.
The four-game series was full of magic moments. Josh Reddick saved Roberto Osuna twice on ninth-inning grabs to seal saves on Thursday and Friday. Thursday's came while a heavy thunderstorm found every opening in the retractable roof to pour water on the fans indoors, particularly those in right field so there was nobody to interfere with Reddick when he leaped to snare Hunter Pence's potential game-winner in the ninth during a 4-2 nailbiter. Justin Verlander's brilliance was enough for a 3-0 triumph on Friday.
The bats arrived for the weekend in blowouts of 11-4 and 15-5. Michael Brantley clubbed his 10th homer and Aledmys Diaz, filling in for Altuve, cracked a grand slam in the Saturday victory.
Next up is a week-long road trip to Detroit and Boston before returning for a 10-game homestand around Memorial Day. Brad Peacock (3-2) will pitch the opener at Comerica Park for the 26-15 Astros against lefty Matthew Boyd (4-2) and the 18-20 Tigers. Wade Miley (3-2) challenges Ryan Carpenter (0-1) in a battle of southpaws for Tuesday's contest and Verlander (6-1) returns to Detroit for the Wednesday finale. All three games are scheduled to start at 6:10 pm CT.
It's a shame the Red Sox won't see JV this trip through Fenway but they will get a first-hand view of young Mr. Martin. They may not be any better prepared for that then the Rangers were.
- Bob Hulsey