Like a Broadway show, the Astros give the same performance nearly every night, particularly on the road. It gets rave reviews in South Texas but just looks of astonishment everywhere else, including Wednesday night's 10-4 thrashing of the Braves in Atlanta.
The outfielders need more practice
(c) Associated Press
In Act One, the Astros' starting pitcher does a solid job for four innings. In Act Two, Houston's opponent or Brett Strom's pitch count chases the starter and the opponent pulls close to the Astros. In Act Three, the Houston offense turns it on with some late rallies to win going away and, by the final chorus, fans are already pouring out the exits.
Joe Musgrove, back up from Fresno, tossed four innings of one-hit ball on Wednesday while the Astros scratched out a 1-0 lead. Houston added three in the fifth on an RBI single by George Springer and a two-run double from Josh Reddick.
But then Musgrove ran into trouble. A two-run single from pitcher Jaime Garcia off Alex Bregman's glove coupled with a two-run homer by Ender Inciarte quickly tied the game at four and ruined Musgrove's night.
The Astros broke it open in the seventh on RBI hits by Springer, Jose Altuve and Marwin Gonzalez. In the eighth, Reddick plated another run with a double and then Gonzalez drove in two with another double.
Everyone in the Houston lineup got at least one hit with Springer and Altuve leading the way with three apiece in the 16-hit parade. There were no homers but the Astros cranked out seven doubles, the third consecutive game of seven or more doubles - a feat that only the 1999 Indians have done since the Dead Ball Era. Houston didn't even need Carlos Correa who sat out the game to nurse a sore thumb from the previous night.
Chris Devenski, Will Harris and Tony Sipp provided 3-1/3rd shutout innings of relief with Devenski claiming the victory.
The Road Warriors (31-9) now take their act outside the country assuming Justin Trudeau hasn't passed a travel ban on them. The Astros open a four-game series at Toronto to close out the "first half" of the season leading up to the All-Star Break.
All-Star Lance McCullers (7-1) will pitch for Houston against lefthander Francisco Liriano (4-4) in Thursday's 6:07 Central opener north of the border. The 39-45 Canadians have struggled this year after reaching the playoffs the past two seasons. Perhaps Houston can pick up a few arms while they are there as long as they don't have to declare them through customs.
- Bob Hulsey