HOUSTON -- The Astros’ longest homestand of the season saw them win series from the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox and the 2016 World Series champion Cubs after a disappointing split with the White Sox, who looked like they were poised to be swept after scoring once in the first two games of the four-game set.
Along the way, the Astros celebrated a walk-off win over the Red Sox, were shut down by Lucas Giolito of the White Sox and overcame five homers for a win vs. the Cubs. Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the North Siders, in which Wade Miley allowed only a pair of solo homers to Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant while striking out a season-high nine in seven innings, meant the Astros finished the homestand at 6-4.
“It doesn’t feel good to talk about it after a loss, but we won another series,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “We beat some good teams, and we continue to play pretty good baseball. They’ve been struggling with some adversity. Our guys are staying upbeat, they’re staying positive, we’re playing with energy. I’ll never complain about a series win, I don’t care what order you go in.”
Here are the biggest storylines of the homestand:
During the homestand, the Astros lost outfielder George Springer (left hamstring strain), shortstop Carlos Correa (rib fracture), infielder Aledmys Díaz (left hamstring strain) and catcher Max Stassi (left knee) to the 10-day injured list. The Astros had hoped to get second baseman José Altuve back during the homestand after he finished rehabbing his left hamstring strain, but he sustained fatigue and soreness in his right leg and could be out another couple of weeks. Which brings us to ...
The kids are all right
Nothing like a Major League debut to fill the soul. Jack Mayfield, a 28-year-old undrafted career Minor Leaguer, was called up to replace Diaz and doubled in his first Major League at-bat in Monday’s win over the Cubs. A day later, catcher Garrett Stubbs made his Major League debut and also doubled in his first MLB at-bat, going 2-for-4 with an RBI in beating Chicago on Tuesday. The Astros will be relying more on Mayfield, Stubbs and fellow youngsters Derek Fisher and Myles Straw until some of their regular starters get healthy.
Brad Peacock continued his run of solid pitching by throwing 11 scoreless innings in two starts during the homestand, striking out 17 batters in 11 innings while allowing six hits. He’s been a different pitcher since he began working out of the full windup and has solidified the bottom of the rotation. Corbin Martin has struggled in four starts as the fifth starter, but Peacock has proven he’s capable of pitching in a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Miley.
Correa walks it off
A day after losing Springer -- their top-of-the-order catalyst and an early front-runner for American League Most Valuable Player -- the Astros got a much-needed pick-me-up when they rallied for a walk-off win on a bases-loaded single by Correa in the ninth inning Saturday against Boston. The hit came after closer Roberto Osuna blew his first save with the Astros -- he was 25-for-25 -- by giving up a pair of runs in the the top of the ninth. A day earlier, on Friday, reliever Ryan Pressly's Major League-record streak of 40 consecutive scoreless outings ended.
Alex Bregman, the All-Star third baseman, hit .278 with three homers in the homestand, including two homers on Tuesday against the Cubs. That gave him 12 homers for the month of May, which eclipsed Jimmy Wynn (1969) for the most in club history in that particular month. If he can homer Friday in Oakland, he’ll tie the team record for homers in any month -- 13, set by Jeff Bagwell in June 1994, the year he won the MVP.
Hinch reached 500 career wins in Tuesday’s win over the Cubs. Included in that total are 411 wins with the Astros, which are the third-most by any manager in club history. Larry Dierker (1997-2001) is in second place with 435 wins and Bill Virdon (1975-82) is in first place with 544 wins. It’s only a matter of time before Hinch becomes the winningest manager in Houston history.
Fan struck by foul ball
A young fan was struck by a foul ball off the bat of Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and rushed from Minute Maid Park in the fourth inning on Wednesday.
“The young fan that was struck by a foul ball during tonight’s game was taken to the hospital,” the Astros said in a statement. “We are not able to disclose any further details at this time. The Astros send our thoughts and prayers to the entire family.”
A visibly shaken Almora immediately went down to one knee near home plate when he realized what had happened and was comforted by Cubs manager Joe Maddon and teammate Jason Heyward.