“They were hard-fought games,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said about the four-game series against the Mariners that concluded on Sunday.
“I’ll tell you this the Texans won today,” said Smith in his press conference after practice. “A lot of guys have been showing up, showing out and making plays."
Houston was 5-0 to start the second half of the season, rolling into Oakland (38-63) to play the A’s, who was 30 games of first place in the American League West Division. As they boarded the plane headed back home, they must be scratching their heads, wondering how they were swept for the first time this season by a team who is 25 games under .500.
“I don’t really give them a message; I just tell them to go play,” said Baker after the second game of the day against the New York Yankees last week. “You can give a message all you want, but talk is cheap most of the time. Execution is what it is all about, followed by production."
With the majority of the 45,290 fans who helped Seattle set a season-high in attendance hurling insults towards the visiting Astros. It had a postseason feel familiar to Houston but probably caused some nervousness for Seattle since they have not made the playoffs since 2001.
Yet, the Astros have been the more dominant team since 2017 and showed it once again on Thursday at Minute Maid Park as they swept the Yankees in a doubleheader to start the second half of the season.
The Astros will be tested early by playing 20 games in 19 days, starting with a doubleheader against the Yankees. The back-to-back games are makeups for a series scheduled to open the season but was postponed due to this year’s lockout
“It was my first multi-homer game and to end it on a walk-off is unreal,” said Peñawho finished the game by going 4-for-5 at the plate. “It’s always fun walking it off. You get the win, and we get to go home. It was great.”
“Maldonado made me look bad right there, hitting the ball straight center,” said Altuve, who followed up Maldonado’s home run with one of his own. “Not too many guys can go straight center.”
“Confidence breeds confidence,” Baker said. “And confidence breeds success. That’s what he’s demonstrating. He has a calmness about him, especially for a young pitcher.”