Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Cleveland Indians

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AL Best Astros Come to Cleveland

Raise your hand if you had the Astros as the best team in the American League heading into the All-Star break. Anyone? Anyone at all?

Nope. Didn’t think so.

To the surprise of pretty much everyone on planet Earth, the Astros lead the AL West by three games. No one saw that coming, myself included. When the season began so many months ago, I dismissed the Astros entirely. Having Luis Valbuena hiting third in your opening day lineup. Go figure.

The Astros lead all of baseball in home runs with 118, making them one of the more entertaining teams if the home run really is your bag. Dallas Keuchel and his near microscopic ERA and WHIP has established himself as a legit Cy Young candidate and probable favorite to start for the AL in the Mid-Summer Classic. And now, the young guns are making their way to the show as reinforcements.

Jun 27, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) hits a double against the New York Yankees in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Yankees won 9 to 6. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s at this point I’m going to start drooling over Carlos Correa. And… GO!

Carlos Correa is amazing. After only a few weeks and 108 at bats into his big league career, Correa has posted a triple slash of .315/.339/.593. He’s already belted seven homers and driven in 19 runs. He’s also scored 16 runs of his own. His highlight reel includes a little league style inside the park home run against the Yankees. He has been phenomenal and everything you would expect from the top prospect in all of baseball.

Correa’s ascension to stardom has been the shot in the arm that the Astros needed heading into the dog days of summer. It just goes to show that sometimes the best acquisitions, especially in baseball, can come from within. If the Astros are able to hold on and make a deep run in October, we may all look back on Correa’s call-up as the moment that put them over the top.

Timing couldn’t have been better for the Astro’s either. Just this past week, their other young slugger hit the DL with a broken wrist. I’m, of course, talking about George Springer.

Springer’s 2015 season got off to a rough start. A lack of power combined with an average floating below the Mendoza line had many wondering if his 2014 debut was a fluke. As it turns out, all it took to heat Springer up was to move him into the lead off spot. After becoming the Astros’ leadoff hitter, his season took off. The power returned, his average climbed, and Springer once again looked like a stud. It’s a shame a fractured wrist has put him on the shelf for 4-6 weeks.

Meanwhile, the Indians come in to tonight’s game with a bit more optimism than they have in weeks past. They are coming off of a road trip that saw them get eviscerated by the Orioles, dominate the Rays, and then hold their own against the Pirates. This feels like the start of the second half surge. It’s still too early to say it is for sure, or not, but it feels like it.

For everything we have said to praise the Indians’ pitching staff, and they are very much responsible for the recent hot streak (Tampa is still reeling), but the Indians offense finally looks like it has woken up from its slumber. While the offense has done a lot of things well according to a wide variety of stats, runs scoring, is not one of them. Hitting with runners in scoring position has not been a strong suit.

But this past week, with the exception of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Pirates, the Indians offense showed up in a big way. They scored early, they scored often, and it was magical. Ok, well not magical, but it was exactly what we expected from this team heading into the season. Can they keep it up against the Astros, one of the Major’s best pitching staff. We’ll have to wait and see.

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