Fans have reason to be excited about the surging Astros, who could use some reinforcements at the trade deadline PUTTING ON A SHOW
The feeling was impossible to ignore on Friday night.
Nearly every seat at Minute Maid was full. Orange and blue T-shirts and ball caps painted a picture of a city wrapped into July baseball.
Anxious about and excited for their Astros.
The team was back after a road trip and All-Star break.
The energy surrounding the home team was palpable this weekend. The conversations throughout the ballpark on the sunny evening in downtown Houston were ones full of hope.
It’s no longer just speculation or “what-ifs.”
The Astros are legitimately one of the best teams in baseball and have a chance to be the last team standing.
It’s impossible to watch the Astros and not think that way.
More wins, October baseball, the World Series. It makes sense. With a little less than half the regular season remaining, the team does have a long way to go. And with a couple of weeks left before a lingering trade deadline, they do need to consider what can get them to the end goal.
This is the year
A lot goes into every acquisition in every professional sport, but the one answer that seems crystal clear for the Astros right now is to go all in. This is the year. This is the time. This is the team that can get to the end and win.
The Astros should do whatever they need to do to strengthen their pitching rotation this month.
It might be the difference in pushing them over the top and into the World Series.
Before Saturday’s game, ace Dallas Keuchel, who is recovering from a neck injury, said he would begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday night in Corpus Christi. Collin McHugh, who suffered an elbow injury, will throw in Corpus on Sunday.
The news for both is promising for an Astros pitching staff that has maneuvered through an onslaught of injuries this season.
The addition of a healthy McHugh strengthens the Astros. The addition of a healthy Keuchel takes the team to another level.
While both say they are feeling good, there are still questions as to when they will be back in full force. With the trade deadline looming on July 31, though, it’s tough to sit back and just hope.
Making a move
Names are being thrown out, most notably Oakland righthander Sonny Gray, who won’t come cheap. The Astros will have to be willing to give up something.
But when the World Series is a very realistic possibility, making the moves to strengthen the one part of the team that needs it most is worth it.
What we’ve learned about the Astros this season is that they have a superior offense. Friday night was a reminder of how stout the lineup top to bottom can be.
Every starter recorded a hit as the Astros finished the game with 14 in the 10-5 victory over the Twins to kick off the second half of the season.
George Springer has been phenomenal all season — the team’s MVP among three or four you could also make a case for.
He’s come up big time after time, has blossomed into one of the best players in the league.
Carlos Correa has lived up to every ounce of hype since the day he was drafted.
Jose Altuve has been the heart of this team for years and now stands out for his play and leadership.
Marwin Gonzalez has been a timely and exciting hitter.
The list goes on.
Dreams becoming reality
When the Astros scored eight runs in Friday’s second inning, the stadium was electric.
The cheers, the fists pumping in the air, the high-fives among strangers were filled with more than excitement about one good inning in one good game.
Everything the Astros are doing now represents more.
Every Springer home run, every highlight-worthy Altuve catch, every McCullers strikeout is another reason to talk about what the Astros have built. About how strong this team has become. About how realistic it is to picture them playing in the World Series.
The Astros have a lot to be excited about. There aren’t many holes to poke in the team.
If they can get another starting pitcher to strengthen the rotation, they will be doing themselves a big favor and giving themselves a better chance to live up to the lofty goals they set before the season.
Talking about the World Series now makes perfect sense. The Astros have played their cards perfectly in the first half of the season and are now in the position to have an historic finish.
If the ballpark has this much energy and excitement in mid July, just imagine what a Friday night in October will feel like.
If all goes well with the Astros before the trade deadline and with the rehab of a couple starting pitchers, we won’t have to guess.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has lived up to the hype since he was selected No. 1 overall in the 2012 draft. He’s now excelling at an All-Star level in his second full season in the majors.