Astros show improvement over season
Don’t look now, but the Astros have been one of the hottest teams in baseball. The "Good Guys" have rallied to a 71-66 record from a measly 51-57 mark, finishing with a league-high 21 wins. Thanks to clutch hitting and steady pitching, August has been solid gold.
The hits keep coming
The Astros have won five of their last nine series, splitting one and losing only three. Of those five series, four were sweeps.
Third baseman Ty Wiggington has been a great source of the Astros’ success. In August Wiggington went on a rampage, batting .379 with 26 RBIs. After outfielder Carlos Lee was placed on the disabled list with a broken left pinky, Wiggington filled his shoes.
His 12 homeruns in August not only leads the team, but also tied a franchise record previously held by none other than Jeff Bagwell. First baseman Lance Berkman is still on pace to have one of the best seasons of his career. In August Berkman belted a .301 batting average and drove in 18 runs despite being pitched around.
Outfielder Darin Erstad and utility infielder Geoff Blum turned things up as well, proving experienced veterans can still come through. Erstad swung a hot bat, batting .327 while Blum contributed with a respectable .293 and drove in 16 RBIs. The Astros’ offense scored 146 runs last month.
Pitching turns over a new leaf
In the past, pitching has been hard to come by, but ace Roy Oswalt (13-9) has finally found his groove. His quality starts are beginning to pile up along with strikeouts, as "Roy O" has been pitching solidly.
Last month, Oswalt went 4-1, recording a 2.51 ERA and striking out 36. The horrendous start to the season seems to be behind him, as he has returned to dominance. Oswalt was back up to his old tricks in Monday’s 3-0 win over the first-place Chicago Cubs, scattering only four hits in 8 1/3 shutout innings.
Brian Moehler (10-5) has stepped up for the Astros in his last six starts, going 4-1 with a 3.44 ERA. He has proven a formidable force in the starting rotation. He recorded 22 strikeouts while only walking four in August, becoming the surprise anchor in the Astros’ starting rotation.
Starters Randy Wolf, Wandy Rodriguez and Brandon Backe combined for a 7-5 record.
The bullpen played a significant role during the Astros’ run. Since putting on an Astros’ jersey on July 30, reliever LaTroy Hawkins has yet to give up a run. He sports a 0.00 ERA in 11 innings of relief as an Astro.
Technically the Astros, down 8Ω games from the wild card with just under a month to play, can still reach the playoffs. Realistically, the chances are very slim, but the building blocks are in the right place, and the pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fit. Next season looks to produce a different outcome.