After losing at least 106 games in three straight seasons, the Astros finished at 70-92 last season. It was a small step in the right direction, but Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow sees more improvement on the way in 2015.
According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Luhnow was a guest on MLB Network’s “High Heat” with Christopher Russo on Friday and said that he thinks the Astros will have a winning record this season.
“The Astros, in my opinion, are going to have a winning record this year,” Luhnow said. “I’ll go on record as saying that. I believe this is a winning team, and I think this is the beginning of many years of winning teams.”
The Astros acquired slugger Evan Gattis in a trade with the Braves this week and have also signed infielder Jed Lowrie and relievers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek this winter. Those additions have the potential to move the needle, but they’ll also need Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh to prove that their breakouts were for real and young players like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, and Brett Oberholtzer to progress. Still, after years of essentially tanking during their rebuilding process, there’s no question that things are looking up for the franchise.
The Astros haven’t had a winning record since they went 86-75 in 2008.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.