History. Years of effort met only frustration as Houston civic leaders sought a Major League Baseball franchise for its growing Gulf Coast metropolis. Finally, in 1960 the National League granted the expansion, and 1962 marked the inaugural season.
Named for “the gun that won the West.” The Colt-45s were guided at the outset by Manager Harry Craft, wore Navy and Orange uniforms, and called the temporary facility of Colt Field home. It was temporary because an “Eighth Wonder of the World” construction site was underway. Along with the growing synonymy between Houston and Outer Space exploration, the team changed to the Astros, where in 1965 it began play — in deference to the local climate — in the Astrodome. An enclosed roof necessitating “Astro-turf” would soon be as commonplace at a ball field as the hot dog.
Improvements were steady, attendance was robust, but major success on the diamond would hold off until 1980, a first place finish in the NL West Division, steered to a 93-70 season mark under ace Manager Bill Virdon. A similar pattern unfolded over future decades, but denial was regularly administered in NL Playoffs. In 2005, Houston finally advanced to The World Series, and a dozen years later — now a member of the American League West and under the guidance of A.J. Hinch — would bring home the Series Championship Trophy.
Sadly, it has not rested peacefully. Allegations have swirled around the Astros relating to “sign stealing” and other ethical infractions, leading to the dismissals of Hinch, some coaches, and General Manager Jeff Luhnow. While the Commissioner has sworn he will not vacate the 2017 Series, this is a story very likely still evolving.
Today, and The Home Stretch. Reporting by the Dallas Express several weeks ago noting the MLB Trade Deadline cited Houston’s ownership of the best overall American League record, good for a six (6) game advantage over 2nd place Oakland. Since then, a bit of a slippage has unfolded, Astros finding themselves now owning a mere three-game lead over those always resourceful A’s with just under 50 starts remaining. An important seven-game road swing got off well, as veteran right hand starter Zack Greinke moved his season needle to 11-3 and a 3.51 ERA with crisp seven inning effort in a 4-1 win of the weekend opener at the Los Angeles Angels. Houston’s +161 run differential remains best in the American League, and any lineup headed by Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, and Carlos Correa is a high octane force. Right hander Ryan Pressly has been reliably steady in late inning relief, and the staff ERA ranks third in the League.
As the team settles into the stretch drive — a three-game late September weekend set with the A’s, all in Oakland, highlights the schedule — it is on pace for 97 wins. Astros followers are entitled to anticipate an advance into the October playoff rounds.