2022 Houston Astros
2022 Houston Astros / Franchise: Houston Astros / BR Team Page
Managed by Dusty Baker
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2022 Houston Astros were winners on Opening Day, April 7th, defeating the Los Angeles Angels and Shohei Ohtani, 3-1. It was the tenth straight Opening Day win for the Astros, tying a record set by the Boston Beaneaters from 1887 to 1896. The streak dated back to when they were still members of the National League and included their first-ever game as a member of the American League in 2013. They got off to a great start, winning four of their first five games, but then hit a snag, with 8 losses in their next 11 games to fall two games below .500. At the end of the day on May 1st, they were at .500, at 11-11, but then found their groove, reeling off 11 straight wins starting on May 2nd.
There were a couple of new faces at the start of the season on a team that had reached the 2021 World Series. First, veteran starter Justin Verlander was back in action after making just one start over the previous two years, and he was the Verlander of old, in other words one the best starting pitchers in baseball. Over his first six starts, he was 4-1, 1.55, with almost twice as many strikeouts (36) as hits allowed (20). The other big change was starting shortstop Jeremy Peña, who made his major league debut on Opening Day and showed great ability on both sides of the ball in his first few weeks as a major leaguer: after 30 games, he was batting .276 with 6 homers and 20 RBIs and an OPS+ of 152. Peña was replacing Carlos Correa, who had left via free agency, and truly, the Astros had no regrets about letting him walk away given the performance of his successor.
On May 17th, the Astros became the eighth team in major league history to hit five homers in an inning, doing so against Nathan Eovaldi and the Boston Red Sox in the 2nd inning of a 13-4 win at Fenway Park. The batters who connected were Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Peña, Michael Brantley and Yuli Gurriel as they turned a 1-0 deficit into a 9-1 lead. On June 15th, it was their pitchers that got them into the record books, when Luis García and Phil Maton both recorded an immaculate inning in the same game, the first time this had happened in major league history. García threw his in the 2nd inning and Maton in the 7th in a 9-2 win over the Texas Rangers and in both cases the same three batters were involved: Nathaniel Lowe, Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller. By then the Astros were really cruising, as the win improved their record to 39-24, with a 9 1/2-game lead over the Rangers who were their closest pursuers. They sent another clear message on June 25th when three pitchers combined to no-hit the New York Yankees, who were the owners of the best record of the majors at the time, 3-0. Cristian Javier (7 innings), Héctor Neris and Ryan Pressly (1 inning each) combined their efforts in that game, striking out 15 batters among them, with Javier collecting 13 Ks by himself. The streak of hitless innings reached 16 the next day, as José Urquidy followed Javier with a strong start of 6 1/3 hitless frames, although the Yankees eventually broke the skein and came back to win the game in extra innings, 6-3.
On July 3rd, they recorded their 6th straight win, 4-2 over the Angels, to increase their lead in the AL West to 13 1/2 game. In that game, their pitchers struck out 20 batters, tyng the club record for a nine-inning game, with Framber Valdez leading the way with 13 in 6 innings. That gave them a total of 48 K's over the three-game series, a major league record. But it was the rookie Peña who played the hero as he went 4 for 5 with two homers, including a walk-off shot off Ryan Tepera to break a 2-2 tie with 2 outs in the 9th.
Awards and Honors
- Molly Burkhardt: "A 5-homer inning?! Astros tee off at Fenway", mlb.com, May 18, 2022. 
- Brian McTaggart: "2 immaculate innings thrown in 1 game for first time", mlb.com, June 15, 2022. 
- Brian McTaggart: "Javier (13 K's) leads Houston's 'shocking' combined no-hitter vs. Yanks", mlb.com, June 25, 2022.