Despite allowing two home runs to the red-hot Nelson Cruz, the Astros beat the Mariners again on Saturday night, taking the first three games of a four-game set and extending their winning streak to nine games, their longest winning streak since 2006. They have also won 13 of their last 14 games. They’re now 17-7 with the best record in the American League, and are six games ahead of the second-place Angels, who lost to the Giants on Saturday afternoon, and seven games ahead of the third-place Mariners.
Starter Collin McHugh allowed four home runs over seven innings, but they were all of the solo variety. Meanwhile, the Astros used their own power to swat a total of five home runs against Mariner pitching, including three against starter Taijuan Walker. They powered their way to scoring 11 runs, besting the Mariners by seven runs in the contest.
The Astros entered the game with a +29 run differential, good for second-best in the American League. Now it’s up to +36, still behind the +46 Royals. The Cardinals (+40) are the only other team with a better run differential. While the hot start is a surprise, it’s not totally out of left field. After finishing with 106, 107, and 111 losses between 2011-13, the Astros improved by a whopping 19 games to finish 70-92 last season.