The Houston Astros came from behind to defeat the Kansas City Royals 7-4 on Sunday, finishing off a perfect 10-game road trip and extending their winning streak to 11 games.
The defending World Series champions completed sweeps over the Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s, and the Royals on their way to pushing their record to 48-25 and taking a 1.5 game lead in the AL West over the Seattle Mariners.
Carlos Correa went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in Sunday’s win, including a game-tying homer in the eighth inning.
“We just have a great team,” Correa told reporters after the game. “It’s hard to find any holes on this team. I don’t think there are any.”
Reliever Tony Sipp picked up his second win of the year, pitching a perfect seventh inning. Hector Rondon closed out the action in the ninth to earn his fourth save of the season.
No World Series Hangover
While the Astros were never floundering the way the Los Angeles Dodgers struggled to start the year, Houston hadn’t been dominant for the first two months of the season, sparking talk that they might be experiencing a hangover from their championship season. But the recent winning streak has made it clear that Houston’s World Series winning form from last season was no fluke.
There are signs that the Astros have, if anything, been unlucky so far this season. Incredibly, they lead the majors in both runs scored and least runs allowed. Only a surprisingly weak 6-12 record in one-run games – something many would put down more to bad luck than anything else – has kept them in check during the first half of the season.
For some teams, that statistic might also point to an issue with the bullpen. That’s not a major problem for the Astros: while closer Ken Giles has struggled this season, posting just a 4.56 ERA in his first 26 appearances, Houston has gotten excellent performances from Sipp, Rondon, Collin McHugh, Chris Devenski, and Brad Peacock, giving them one of the deepest relief crops in the league.
Still, there has been some speculation that Houston might look to bolster their bullpen further. Potential targets include Baltimore closer Zach Britton, Padres stopper Brad Hand, or Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough.
Mariners Surprise in AL West
If the Astros do decide to bring in some new talent between now and the trade deadline, it will probably be due to the presence of some other high-powered teams in the American League who could upend the defending champions. Despite their winning streak and gaudy record, both the New York Yankees (46-21) and Boston Red Sox (49-24) have even better marks at this point in the season.
That’s not to mention the Mariners (46-26), who have surprisingly turned the AL West into a real race. Seattle is looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and have been perhaps the best team in baseball over the past month, going 22-6 since May 18.
Oddsmakers expect Houston to eventually pull away, with William Hill making the Astros a 1/5 favorite to win the division while the Mariners sit at 9/2. According to most bookmakers, Houston is also one of the top choices to win a World Series this year: William Hill has both the Astros and the Yankees at 9/2 to win a championship this season, ahead of the Red Sox (7/1), Chicago Cubs (9/1), and Washington Nationals (9/1).