• Brian L. Barefield

A Major League Winning Streak: Astros defeat the Mariners to win third game in a row.

Photo Credit/ Houston Astros

One of my favorite movies of all-times is Major League II, staring Omar Epps, Charlie Sheen, and James Gammon who played the manager of the Cleveland Indians.

There was a famous scene where Gammon’s character Lou Brown walks into the clubhouse before the game and addresses the team.

“Alright you guys. Let’s listen up. We won a game yesterday. If we win one today. That is two in a row. We win one tomorrow. That is called a winning streak. It has happened before. So, let’s see some hustle! Let’s jack it up a little! I got a feeling things are about to turn around for us.”

If Gammon was still alive (he passed away in 2010), I am sure he would probably say that Astros manager Dusty Baker uttered those exact sentiments during this current eight-game home stand. Houston (10-10) defeated the Seattle Mariners (7-15) by a score of 2-1 to win their third game in a row and their fourth out of five at Minute Maid Park.

Houston got another strong outing by one of its young arms as Cristian Javier (2-1) stymied the Mariners bats giving up only one hit in six innings holding Seattle scoreless. Javier bounced back from a rough last start last Sunday in Oakland where he only lasted three innings giving up five runs to the A’s.

“I feel like I am really finding my rhythm,” said Javier after the game. “I am starting to find my rhythm at the big-league level and feeling comfortable here.”

The Astros got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning when second baseman Jose Altuve grounded out to shortstop to drive home Yordan Alvarez. The former A.L. MVP was batting seventh in the lineup for the first time this season after requesting the change to Baker before the game began.

It was the first time he started at the 7th spot in the batting order since Sept. 11, 2012 vs. Chicago Cubs. He had not batted lower than 3rd in the order in a game since the 2014 season, and had not batted lower than 4th in the order since the 2012 season.

“Jose came into my office and said ‘I am not helping the club right now at the top of the lineup and I appreciate the respect you are giving me for what I have done over my career, but the guys ahead of me are swinging the bat better and I just want to win,’’’ Baker told reporters after the game when asked about the late lineup change.

The dugout erupted in cheers when Jose got his first hit of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning when he singled to left-center field. He has been in a terrible slump since August 6th when he went 3-for-4 at the plate against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since then he has been stuck in a slump getting only 5 hits in 31 at-bats.

All of his teammates and coaching staff have been praying for Altuve who has had four hits in a game 30 times in his career. The last coming against the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

“We have been praying for him like you can’t believe,” said Baker. “I was praying for him half of the night. I know the rest of the team is pulling for him because he is one of the most popular guys on this team and they know he has a great heart. Not only for people but for his teammates. That (Altuve’s single) took a lot of pressure off of him and a lot of pressure off of us.”

One person in the lineup who is feeling no pressure is first baseman, Yuli Gurriel who homered for the second consecutive day. His fourth inning homer to center field would provide the Astros with enough runs to win the game after the bullpen combination of Josh James, Brooks Raley, and Ryan Pressly gave up only one-run in the final three innings.

“Today I felt like I was seeing the ball really well,” said Gurriel who has hit safely in 10 out of the last 12 games. “With everything going on, it’s hard to feel like you are at your best every day. So, I try to take advantage of every situation and get locked in.”

Houston will play the final game of the series on Sunday against the Mariners with Lance McCullers Jr. taking the mound at 1:10pm.

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