Truth be told, there's no team in Major League Baseball I enjoy seeing suffer more than the Atlanta Braves. That decade or more of torture in the 1990s and 2000s still aches and beating them twice in NLDS play doesn't seem like enough revenge.
Springer: Jump starts the engine
(c) Associated Press
But all those guys are gone now and lighting a firecracker in the butts of Braves fans in their own home park, such as Tuesday's 16-4 rout, seemed a bit like overkill. The Astros were the trappers and the Braves were like baby harp seals, pounded mercilessly by the slaughter of Houston's bats.
View the devastation: All-Star George Springer - 4-for-5 including his team-leading 25th homer, All-Star Jose Altuve - 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs to raise his average to .330, Josh Reddick - 3-for-6 including a grand slam to close out the scoring, Yuli Gurriel - 3-for-5 with four RBIs, Alex Bregman - 3-for-5 and three runs scored.
Brad Peacock extended himself to six innings and won his sixth, allowing three runs and seven hits while fanning seven. By that point, it was 12-0 and Peacock didn't need to be sharp. Ashur Tolliver, Michael Feliz and James Hoyt mopped up, which is something they've had loads of practice with lately.
Houston tallied runs in six of the nine innings and delivered 19 hits. If they could pack up SunTrust Park and take it back to Houston, I think the Astros would favor that but they might lobby for Minnesota's Target Field instead (40 runs in a three-game series earlier this year).
The Road Warriors are now an otherworldly 30-9 (.769) away from Minute Maid, have reached 30 games above .500 before the All-Star Break, own a 16-game lead on second-place Anaheim and still haven't returned many starting pitchers from the Disabled List.
The only down note was an injury to All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa who jammed his left thumb sliding into home plate in the fourth. He collided with the shin guard of Atlanta catcher Tyler Flowers on a completely clean play. X-rays were negative and Correa is listed as day-to-day. Marwin Gonzalez (who added two hits) took over at shortstop.
Mercifully for Atlanta, this is just a two-game series as the Astros go for a four-game season sweep (they won two at home back in May). Wednesday's pitching matchup will be a repeat of a 4-2 Houston win on May 10th as Joe Musgrove (4-7) returns from AAA Fresno to take on Jaime Garcia (2-6) in a 6:35 Central duel. Both pitchers have struggled since their meeting and are looking to turn their season around.
- Bob Hulsey