Do Astros feel more at home ... on the road?

October 10th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Brian McTaggart’s Astros Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Astros have been hounded by questions in recent weeks about why they haven’t played well at home this season, so it’s only fair to ask why they’ve been so good on the road.

After splitting the first two games of the American League Division Series at Minute Maid Park against the Twins, the Astros will try to rely on their road dominance to reach their seventh consecutive AL Championship Series. Game 3 of the ALDS is Tuesday at Target Field. Houston was 51-30 on the road this season, including 14-3 in its last 17 games.

“That's one thing I asked them in Spring Training [is] to be the best road team in the league,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I wish I asked them to be the best road and home team, but I assumed they were going to be a good home team.”

That wasn’t the case, with the club posting a .797 OPS with 130 homers on the road this year and a .735 OPS with 92 homers at home. On the mound, Astros pitchers had a 3.62 ERA and .706 opponents’ OPS on the road and a 4.24 ERA and .741 opponents’ OPS at home.

Just as the Astros never really came up with a viable theory for their home woes, there are no concrete answers why they’ve played so well on the road. The Astros posted road sweeps at Atlanta and at Texas, outscoring the Rangers, 36-10, in three games in September, but they were swept at home by the Yankees and Royals that month.

“I've tried to think about it,” Baker said. “I know it was easier for me to play on the road because there weren't any distractions. All do you is just think about the game, sleep and eat. There's no go to the laundry or the bank. I know my daughter used to wake me up when I was at home, like 5 o’clock [in the morning], to tell me the sun is up, you know what I mean? I was like, ‘That's good, honey,’ and I could never go back to sleep. On the road, I can turn my phone off. I can just sleep and feel rested and just think about baseball and baseball only.”

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who slashed .273/.368/.472 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs on the road compared to .250/.358/.405 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs at home, said the Astros have confidence no matter which ballparks they play in.

“I don’t really know,” he said when asked about Houston’s road success.