Houston Astros looking good as they pass the 50-game mark

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 01: Yordan Alvarez #44 of the Houston Astros stands at second base and celebrates after he hit a bases loaded three-run RBI double against the Oakland Athletics in the top of the ninth inning at RingCentral Coliseum on June 01, 2022 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) (Thearon W. Henderson, 2022 Getty Images)

Hi everybody, this is KPRC 2 Sports Director Randy McIlvoy with a quick check-in on the Astros.

Houston has crossed the 50-game plateau and they’re riding a nice wave into the summer. Fresh off of their sweep over the Oakland A’s and coupled with the Angels’ postponed game Wednesday in New York, the Astros are now leading the AL West by 5.5 games. Obviously, there’s a lot of baseball still left to be played, but it’s not a bad place to sit as we turn the page to June on the baseball calendar.

Today (Thursday), the Astros get a well-earned day off to recharge after their sweep in Oakland. They woke up this morning 33-18 and riding a four-game win streak with three more games coming up in Kansas City against the Royals beginning Friday night.

WHO’S HOT?

* The pitching has continued to be lights out. Starting pitchers have been dominant, tossing seven shutouts this season. Framber Valdez threw a complete game in the Oakland series, but it doesn’t stop with the lefty. Justin Verlander had a great bounce-back start Wednesday, no-hitting the A’s for 6.2 innings before giving up an RBI single for the first hit and then a home run that put the A’s up 3-1. Verlander, though, was outstanding with his nasty slider back to its old form. Just forget about that rough outing in Seattle earlier on the road trip.

* The bullpen has been just as good and even better than the starters. Across the major leagues, the Astros’ group led all of MLB in ERA, hovering around 2.40 after the Oakland series. It’s fun to watch these guys attack and win the battles. I expect that to continue, although every season has its share of ups and downs.

WHO’S NOT?

* Alex Bregman right now is struggling to get hits. He’s 3-for-20 in his last six games (all on this road trip to Seattle and Kansas City). Soon, if the struggles continue, Dusty Baker may choose to give Bregman a day off or two to reset and recharge. He’ll get it going. He’s pacing for 90 RBI this season.

* Kyle Tucker is hitting .239 and is just 3-for-19 on this road trip.

* Yuli Gurriel is hitting .223 and is 4-for-19 on this road trip. Remember that Yuli is the reigning batting champion so he’s due to break out at any time. Hopefully, his struggles will end soon.

It’s on to Kansas City for three games over the weekend before the Astros return to Minute Maid Park against Seattle beginning on Monday.

Baker’s rotation against the Royals will be Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez.

See ya at Minute Maid Park next week!