• Brian L. Barefield

Astros Defeat Oakland To Take Over Sole Possession Of First Place In A.L. West

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

On May 10th before the Houston Astros were preparing to take on the Los Angeles Angels which would begin a stretch of 13 straight games against American League West opponents, I asked manager Dusty Baker how important each and every game would be.

“Every game is like playing two games,” Baker responded. “Someone is going to lose, and someone is going to pick up ground every day. So, it might as well be us.”

The Astros were .500 in their last 10 games at that point with an overall record of 18-16. On Thursday Houston defeated the Oakland A’s 8-4 to complete game number 10 out of 13 against interdivisional opponents in which they have won eight of those games and now lead the division by .05 games with a 26-18 record.

"It’s always significant when you're in first place," Baker said when asked about taking over first place after the win. "Had we lost this game today, we would have come in here half a game back and leave 1 1/2 games behind. We'll take it at any point in time of the season and, hopefully, we never relinquish first place."

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

Houston got a big day at the plate out of starting catcher Martin Maldonado who helped the team tie the score at one in the top of the third inning and helped increase the lead by three runs the very next inning with a two-run homer to right-center field on a 2-1 pitch off of A’s starter Cole Irvin.

“He swung the bat good today,” said Jose Altuve about Maldonado’s performance. “That two-run homer gave us a little more comfort.”

That would be all the insurance runs Astros starter Luis Garcia needed as he won his second straight start going five innings allowing two runs and three hits while striking out seven batters.

“It was a good outing,” said Garcia. “I was trying to throw the ball in the strike zone and get guys out and my cutter was working really well today,”

The Astros now head back to Texas to take on the Rangers in a weekend series as one of the hottest teams in baseball, led by the aforementioned Jose Altuve who has a league high 14-game hitting streak and a lineup that has produced 6.6 runs per game during that span. Houston’s first five batters in the lineup are all hitting over .300 and they lead all of MLB in hits (414) and RBI (226).

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