Crane on Astros: 'We have a good chance'

August 18th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- Astros owner Jim Crane, who went to school nearby at the University of Central Missouri, doesn’t miss a chance to return to his Missouri roots. Crane joined the club in Kansas City for the series against the Royals and said Tuesday in a rare interview he’s bullish on his team’s chances to go deep in the playoffs, especially after the moves made at the Trade Deadline.

The Astros added four relief pitchers late last month, highlighted by landing Kendall Graveman from the Mariners. Houston also traded for Yimi García (Marlins), Phil Maton (Indians) and Rafael Montero (Mariners), who’s injured and likely won’t return any time soon.

“I think we were able to shore up the bullpen, which was needed,” Crane told “That was pretty obvious. It’s nice to see some of these young guys playing, so that adds some more depth. We’ve had some injuries, as everybody has, but those certainly have had an effect on us.

“Hopefully, it shapes up that we get everybody back and healthy for a nice run at the end and win the division -- maybe have the best record in the American League to get home-field [advantage]. That’s the goal. Everybody is on track with that. It’s the dog days of August. We’re here.”

The race for home-field advantage in the AL will be a focus for the Astros down the stretch. Houston entered Tuesday 1 1/2 games behind the Rays for the best record in the AL, which would come with home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

The return of fans at full capacity at Minute Maid Park this year has been a boon for the Astros, and now the club is gearing up for its first playoff games with fans in the stands since the 2019 World Series.

“You’ve seen the support we get in Houston,” Crane said. “We got great fans and they come out and support the team, and it’s a lot better. It was terrible last year for everybody, and they got it done and we did all right. This team is a little more focused, has a little more depth and we have a good chance. This team has as good a chance as everybody to go all the way.”

Crane praised the job done by manager Dusty Baker, who’s dealt with a rash of injuries all season, including not having starting pitcher Justin Verlander all year and starting third baseman Alex Bregman for the past two months. Several players have landed on the COVID-19 IL, including right fielder Kyle Tucker.

“He’s had to patch it up,” Crane said. “He’s done a nice job of moving guys in and out and giving guys some rest. I think we’re in good shape to make a run. He’s well-liked by the players, and he handles himself well. Dusty’s done a great job for us since he’s come in.”

On Monday, Crane and Reggie Jackson, who’s employed by the Astros as a special advisor to Crane, toured the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Baker said he plans to tour the museum on Wednesday.

“[There] was a lot of history there I didn’t know, and it even goes back into the 1800s, before Jackie Robinson played,” Crane said. “It’s a nice place to visit. It gives you a lot of history and certainly, there was a lot of great players that played in the Negro Leagues and certainly could have been in the big leagues. It’s nice to know that history.”