It was one of the best Houston Astros‘ games to watch all year. The young guys came out to play, and play they did.
Jose Altuve, Jonathan Villar, Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes combined to go 6-for-13 with six stolen bases. Bunts and stolen bases were the name of the game. Speed is clearly becoming the biggest strength of the young Astros.
Successfully stealing bases is an underrated and under-appreciated tool. It’s more eye-popping to see guys hitting the ball 450 feet to drive in three at one time, but when done properly, small ball can be just as entertaining.
The way the Astros played, their young speedsters were constantly in motion, stealing, squeezing and extending the play. They were turning singles and walks into doubles, moving into scoring position.
And let us not forget Brett Oberholtzer, who was called upon to start in his home debut. Oberholtzer liked his shutout start last Wednesday so much, he decided to do it again against the Boston Red Sox. It was a beautifully pitched game, with one specific defining moment.
The Astros held a one-run lead in the seventh when Oberholtzer found himself with a man on third and only one out. Having struck out no one thus far into the game, it looked like a tie game was imminent, but Oberholtzer silenced that thought and struck out the next two guys for his only two Ks of the game before being replaced in the eighth inning.
Oberholtzer is keeping pace with Jarred Cosart, putting up consecutive quality starts. If the two young arms can keep pushing each other and mimicking their results, the Astros may have found their foundation for a potent starting rotation.
And the bullpen? Wesley Wright wriggled his ERA under 4.00 with 0.2 innings of scoreless ball, and Josh Fields made a strong case at becoming a closer by striking out all four batters he faced.
It was an incredibly fun game to watch, and hopefully the young Astros built enough confidence to keep the excitement rolling.