• Brian L. Barefield

Happy to Be Home: Astros sweep A’s and Yankees to go 6-0 at Minute Maid Park

Back in the summer of 2011 I was deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. When you are scheduled to be in a warzone for a certain amount of time, the military grants you leave, which is vacation in civilian terms.

We had arrived in country in December 2010 from our duty station in Baumholder, Germany and the time seemed to go by pretty quickly. Before I knew it, I was three weeks away from coming home and seeing my wife and kids. But something happened right in the midst of getting prepared to leave. I stopped eating on a consistent basis.

All of a sudden, the food didn’t taste the same even though it was the same food I had been eating for the last six to eight months. It all just tasted bland and I wouldn’t eat as much. I called my wife to let her know what was going on and she told me not to worry because she knew exactly what was going on. My body was letting me know that I had become homesick.

That must have been what the Houston Astros was feeling right before they came back to Minute Maid Park to start a six game homestand against the Oakland A’s and the New York Yankees. Houston was coming off a seven-game road trip to begin the season that left them with a record of 2-5 and had some wondering if this was the same team that fans had witnessed have back-to-back 100-win seasons.

Astros outfielder Michael Brantley was one of many players to take advantage of being home.

The Astros removed all doubt from the minds of their loyal supporters by winning all six games at home before heading back out on the road to face the Seattle Mariners who currently sits atop of the American League West. It was the first time since 2004 that Houston had swept two series at home and it makes it eight straight games the Astros have won at Minute Maid Park dating back to last year.

Skipper A.J. Hinch is very proud of what the team has done and excited to see that the bats have come alive during the homestand.

"That's three days in a row where we've had really, really good at-bats as the game's gotten late," Hinch said after the Astros had come back late to defeat the Yankees 4-3 on Tuesday. "So, I certainly liked it, the focus and the quality of at-bats and ultimately the production."

One bat that has gotten red-hot since being home is 2017 American League MVP, Jose Altuve. He has shown the hometown fans that not only does he hit for average (.314), but he also can hit the long ball. Altuve hit his 100th career home run Tuesday night, becoming the 16th player in franchise history to reach that milestone. 100 homers were not enough for the 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner as he went out on the next night and hit homeruns 101 and 102 against the Yankees.

“I am not use to hitting this many homer in two or three games, but I will take it,” said Altuve after the victory on Wednesday night.

It is safe to say that all the Astros needed was a little home cooking to get themselves going.

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