The Houston Astros delayed their big offensive inning until the ninth in Monday’s victory over their hosts, the Seattle Mariners. In a turn of fortune for a team who has given up so many wins at the end of games this season, Houston showed great resolve in taking the first of the three-game series.
There is a reason that the Astros have been playing well in spurts lately, and that reason is confidence.
The 2013 season is effectively over for the Houston club, and that has caused a change in mentality in the players. These are no longer the early days of the year, in which they slid further and further behind the leaders with each game. There were periods where they couldn’t bat, couldn’t score and simply could not win.
Now, they are playing with the air of a team that has nothing to lose, which can be a good thing. At the beginning of the season, the Astros were working with a new management staff and new players. They were in a new league, a new division, and facing opponents that they had only previously seen fleetingly. They have gained a familiarity with some of their rivals, and though they may still not be piecing together a huge number of wins, you can see that the nerves have definitely been shaken.
Jarred Cosart came out on Monday, and the youngster pieced together yet another solid outing. Though he walked more batters than he would have liked, he still gave up just one run through almost seven innings. The closing staff didn’t exactly close the game with the frugal ability of Cosart, but the Houston offense did enough late on to ensure that they had a manner of breathing room.
Bo Porter has the freedom to experiment with his squad, rotating players up and down from the minor league clubs, and he has done so with pleasure. The season is coming to an end, and Porter has nothing but opportunities to try out some new things and, mix it up, and all without consequence.
It is likely a fun time to be an Astros player, as they compete for spots, all with a more relaxed nature. Expect to see more free play from Houston, as the season comes to a close for another year.
Daniel Jamieson is an MLB writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JamiesonDaniel