added 6/11/2010 by Will Bonn
Quality starts are often an overlooked stat in the world of baseball, but they can still be an effective way to judge recent starting pitching performances. Our Houston Astros just completed a 3-1 series victory at Coors Field over the Colorado Rockies, and all four Astro starting pitchers threw quality starts to contribute to the winning cause. Coors Field can be a pitcher's nightmare where ERAs balloon and wins are hard to come by, but this was not the case for our starters.
In addition to fantastic starting pitching, the Astros have been relying on some great production from the bottom of the batting order lately. Tommy Manzella is five for his last ten at the plate with four RBI's and Humberto Quintero has been killing the ball lately. He went 3-for-4 in Thursday's series finale including a solo shot in the fifth inning, and he has hit safely in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. With the lineup starting to produce, the Astros are now set to begin a three-game series at the new Yankee Stadium against the defending World Champion Yankees.
It will be Houston's first trip to the new stadium in their history and wins will certainly be tough to come by. The Yankees have been playing exceptional baseball all year long and their starting rotation is remarkable. They will be sending Andy Pettitte, Javier Vazquez and rookie phenom Phil Hughes to the mound against the Astros this weekend.
Pettitte leads the rotation with a 2.47 ERA and he is 7-1 on the year. During Spring Training, the Yankees were not sure who would win their fifth rotation spot. Phil Hughes ultimately beat out Joba Chamberlain and he has been thriving with a 8-1 record and 2.71 ERA in the rotation. Vazquez got off to a rough start early but he is trying to turn it around, surrendering only three runs in his last 14 innings pitched.
The Yankees continue to lead the American League in hits, batting average and runs batted in as Robinson Cano is leading the team in virtually every single offensive category. The New York second baseman is batting .376 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs on the year but their entire lineup is formidable.
The duo of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are lethal as ever, both hitting in the .290s. Outfielder Nick Swisher is hitting over .300 and has launched ten homers. On the other hand, Mark Teixeira has a low average and Curtis Granderson has not lived up to expectations.
Put it all together and the Yankees are a strong ballclub but they enter the weekend two games behind Tampa Bay for the A.L. East lead as well as the best record in the American League.
The Astros, meanwhile, have just escaped the basement of the N.L. Central. Their hottest starting pitchers just finished in Colorado but they still have Brett Myers working on Friday. They must then get through Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler if the weekend is to be a success.