OAKLAND -- With Thursday's 12-9 win over the A's at the Coliseum, the Astros secured a four-game sweep and became the first Major League team to reach the 50-win benchmark in 2017.Just don't expect Houston (50-24) to stop and smell the roses any time soon. Despite their latest display of
OAKLAND -- With Thursday's 12-9 win over the A's at the Coliseum, the Astros secured a four-game sweep and became the first Major League team to reach the 50-win benchmark in 2017.
Just don't expect Houston (50-24) to stop and smell the roses any time soon. Despite their latest display of domination in Oakland, the Astros don't sound like a team content with what it has accomplished so far.
"Today was our 50th win? I don't know. I don't think we pay attention to that," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "I think we let the media focus on that. We just focus on winning, trying to win a division."
So far, that approach has worked. This year's club reached 50 wins faster (74 games) than any team in the 56-year history of the organization, the previous fastest being 1979 (81 games), when the team went 50-31. Houston is just the 19th team in the past 50 years and 42nd in the last century to record 50 wins in its first 74 contests.
"It doesn't really count for anything," manager A.J. Hinch said. "They don't really give us credit for anything until the end of the season, but it's obviously nice to win that many games that quickly."
Hinch is right. Of the three teams to reach 50 games this quickly since 2000, the only one to go on to win the World Series is a squad Houston knows well. The '05 White Sox started 50-22, finished 99-63 and went on to win the Fall Classic with a 4-0 sweep of the Astros.
The 2001 Mariners, who started 50-14, finished 116-46 to tie the Major League record for wins in a season. That team lost to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. The '15 Cardinals, who also started 50-24, finished 100-62. That club won the National League Central but lost in the NL Division Series to the Cubs.
Houston (5.51 runs per game) also became the first team to eclipse the 400-run mark this season, a nod to the robust and deep lineup that flexed its muscle in Thursday's victory. The Astros held an early 10-0 lead, highlighted by an eight-run second inning that featured a pair of three-run homers from Jake Marisnick and Marwin Gonzalez. Remarkably, it's already the third time this year the Astros have scored at least eight runs in a single frame.
"Shows how special our lineup can be," said Reddick, who fell a single short of the cycle on Thursday. "We got guys who can bang all the way around 1 to 9, and they can hit the ball out of the park 1 through 9. We're not selfish about RBIs. We're going to try and pass the baton on to the next guy."
Another key to the team's success has been its ability to perform away from home. Remarkably, the Astros are 27-8 on the road this year compared to 23-16 in Houston. While the club still has three more upcoming road games in Seattle this weekend, Houston is on the verge of becoming just the sixth team since 1961 to enter July with single-digit road losses.
Of the six to accomplish the feat, only the 1984 Tigers, who went 27-9 on the road through June, went on to win the World Series. So once again Hinch's words ring true.
"We're pretty even-keeled around here," Hinch said. "We don't talk a lot about getting to 40 wins, getting to 50 wins. We're going to continue to press forward and try to win as many as we can."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area.