Tony Gwynn: Astros & Brew Crew: Early season surprises
Four straight wins has the Houston Astros’ franchise record back at .500 for the first time in more than 44 years.
That record can become a winning one on Wednesday if the Astros complete a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tuesday’s 13-12 victory over the Brewers made Houston the 13th team in the majors with a franchise record of .500 or better. Not since the franchise’s first month of play in April 1962 when the Colt-.45s, as they were known, split their first 12 games has Houston stood on equal footing.
“Forty-four years is a long time, but just look where we have come from in the last 12 or 13 years,” Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. “Since Drayton (McLane) owned the club we have just continued to pump out winning seasons and that’s why we’ve made up so much of the ground.”
Houston (10-4) has tied its best start through 14 games and is on pace for a 14th straight winning season. Since last Friday’s 5-1 road loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Astros have won four in a row behind third baseman Morgan Ensberg’s hot hitting.
Ensberg has homered in a career-high four consecutive games, including two home runs Tuesday that helped Houston build an 11-2 lead. He hit a first-inning solo shot and a two-run homer in the sixth, finishing 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
He’s 10-for-18 with five homers and 10 RBIs over the last four games. Ensberg, who has hit safely in six straight games, has 13 RBIs this season despite failing to drive in one run during his first five games.
“Historically April’s bad for me,” said Ensberg, who came into this season a career .237 hitter in April with five homers in 72 games. “But I’m seeing the ball and I’m capitalizing on pitchers’ mistakes. I’m happy I’m not starting slowly, but the most important thing is we’re playing some good baseball.”
Houston’s Craig Biggio hit his 45th career leadoff home run Tuesday in claiming sole possession of second place on the all-time list behind Rickey Henderson’s 80.
Carlos Lee leads the Brewers (7-7) with eight home runs, including six in the last seven games. He hit a pair of the team’s three two-run homers Tuesday as Milwaukee nearly rallied from nine runs down.
The Brewers have lost three straight, but have scored 19 runs in the first two games of this series.
“The offense is starting to kick in now and that’s a good sign,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “It shows the character of your club when you’re down 11-2 and come back.”
The left-hander goes to the mound looking to avoid a second consecutive loss. He gave up three runs—two earned—and seven hits in six innings of a 5-1 defeat at Arizona on Friday.
Pettitte won all four of his starts against Milwaukee last season, posting a 2.70 ERA while striking out 23 in 26 2-3 innings. He’s 7-2 with a 3.72 career ERA against the Brewers.
Pettitte will be facing fellow southpaw Chris Capuano (1-2, 3.93), who is 1-3 with a career 4.32 ERA against Houston. He’s lost his last two starts despite giving up three earned runs and lasting at least six innings in each outing.