• Brian L. Barefield

Healthy and Hungry: The Astros Get Their All-Stars Back In Time for Another Pennant Run

The Houston Astros have sent a warning to all the people who have doubted them the last couple of weeks. It is a message that is loud and clear, and any player will scream it from the top of Minute Maid Park if you let them. That message is, “We Are Back.” After a rash of injuries caused three of their all-star players (George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve) to miss significant time this year, they finally have everyone healthy and it shows. The Astros went on a six-game win streak once the last of the injured players came back and they finally have everyone healthy. Wait. Let me not minimalize it. They went on that winning streak when the 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve made it back into the lineup.

“When we’re healthy, we’re the best team in baseball,” said third baseman Alex Bregman. I know it sounds a little cocky and arrogant, but it’s true and if anyone can make that statement, its Bregman. He has hit 41 doubles and 25 home runs this season while being moved around the infield to help fill the voids caused by injuries. The 2018 All-Star Game MVP also leads the club in five statistical categories (runs, RBI, doubles, home runs, & walks).

Getting healthy at this time of the year is very important to Houston as they are locked in a tight division race with the Oakland A’s who have been hot over the last month going 17 – 7 in their last 24 games. That surge has caused the Astros lead to shrink and for the first time in over a year has them looking over their shoulders.

Adversity is the one thing that doesn’t get this Astros team rattled as they have been through it before. This time last year they were dealing with one of the worst natural disasters (Hurricane Harvey) to ever hit the city of Houston. As you remember they were not able to fly into the airport and had to play a series in Tampa against the Texas Rangers. That obstacle helped them build a stronger bond and win the World Series. So, the injury bug will not cause them to panic at this time of the year when the playoffs are right around the corner.

“When we’re going well have the extended lineup, this long lineup where it doesn’t matter where we are, we’re a threat,” manager A.J Hinch said after the Astros defeated the Oakland A’s in game one of a three game series. Houston is on pace to have back-to-back 100-win seasons and repeat as the American League West champs which have other teams in the division to taking notice that they are getting healthy at the right time. “They’re a good team with a good lineup and have everybody at full strength,” A’s pitcher Brett Anderson reiterated after he fell victim to that healthy lineup on Monday.

The defending World Series Champions are currently on a 10-game homestand.

Brian Barefield is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association.

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