2015 Houston Astros
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2015 Houston Astros / Franchise: Houston Astros / BR Team Page
Clinched Wild Card: October 4, 2015, vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Managed by A.J. Hinch
History, Comments, Contributions
The 2015 Houston Astros began the season playing surprisingly well, as they won 9 of 10 games in late April and were in first place in the AL West with a 13-7 record on April 28th. This included a 9-2 record in road games, equaling the best start on the road in team history. By also winning their last two games of the month, they ended April at 15-7, tied with the Kansas City Royals for the best record in the American League and four games in front of the second-place Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at that early point. One of the key contributors to that early success was 2B Jose Altuve, the defending AL batting champion, who finished the month with a streak of eight consecutive multi-hit games during which he hit .487.
The strong month of April was not a flash in the pan. By mid-May, the Astros had matched the best start in franchise history, as their 25-13 mark after completing a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on May 17th was the same as that put up by the 1998 edition of the team. On May 23rd, they turned their first triple play since 2004 in a 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. In the triple play, Ian Kinsler hit a ball straight at 3B Jonathan Villar who was playing close to the bag; he touched it and threw in one motion to start a 5-4-3 double play. Rookie Lance McCullers won his first major league game that day. The Astros hit their first rough patch in early June when they were swept by the Blue Jays in a week-end series. On June 8th, they called up SS Carlos Correa, the top pick in the 2012 amateur draft, to make his major league debut at 20, the youngest player in the majors. He drove in the team's lone run in his debut, a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. That day, the Astros also had two of the top five picks in the 2015 draft, the result of not coming to terms with number 1 pick Brady Aiken the previous year; they selected another shortstop, Alex Bregman of Louisiana State University, with the second pick in the draft, while with the number 5 pick they chose OF Kyle Tucker, the brother of OF Preston Tucker, another of the team's stable of talented youngsters. In spite of Correa stepping into the starting line-up without missing a beat, the team's skid continued, reaching 7 straight losses on June 10th, although they remained in first place in the division as only the Texas Rangers were playing above .500 at that point. The Astros then finished the first half with 6 straight losses, which combined with a surge by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who won 11 of their last 14 games before the break, meant that they were off the pace by half a game when the All-Star break came.
On August 21st, one of the team's trading deadline acquisitions, P Mike Fiers, obtained from the Milwaukee Brewers, was the hero when he pitched a 3-0 no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He needed 134 pitches and struck out 11 while retiring the last 21 batters in a row. It was not only his first career complete game, but also the first time he had pitched in the 9th inning in a game he had started. On August 26th, the Astros won the 71st game of the season, 6-2 over the New York Yankees, thanks to another strong performance by P Collin McHugh and two homers by C Evan Gattis. The number was important, because they had only won 70 games all of 2014 - and that season had been their best in years! Their mid-season slump behind them, the Astros had won 7 of 9 behind some very strong pitching and were now 5 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Rangers, who had also overtaken the falling Angels. That lead did not last however, as the Rangers kept on playing well, but not Houston. On September 15th, the Rangers caught and passed the Astros with a 6-5 win. Houston had lost 10 of its last 15 games at that point, unable to win consistently when away from their home ballpark, and then lost again to Texas the next day, 14-3, to fall even further behind. Their road record at that point stood at 29-45, tied for worst in the league, as if the previous years' terrible teams were playing on the road while the one packed with bright young stars was annihilating opponents at home. The Rangers swept the four-game series between the two teams with an 8-2 win on September 17th, leaving the Astros 2 1/2 games behind with 16 left to play. In a spite of a tough final two weeks, they did manage to squeak into the playoffs on the final day of the second as the second AL Wild Card team, finishing only one game ahead of the Angels.
The Astros made a successful postseason debut as an American League team, shutting out the Yankees, 3-0 at New Yankee Stadium in the American League Wild Card Game. Dallas Keuchel pitched 6 scoreless innings, and the unheralded bullpen of Tony Sipp, Will Harris and Luke Gregerson finished the job, while long balls by Colby Rasmus and mid-season acquisition Carlos Gomez accounted for the first two runs against Masahiro Tanaka.
Awards and Honors
- All-Stars: Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel
- AL Cy Young Award: Dallas Keuchel
- AL Rookie of the Year Award: Carlos Correa
- AL Gold Glove: Jose Altuve (2B) and Dallas Keuchel (P)
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Jose Altuve (2B)
- 2015 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: Carlos Correa (SS)
- Associated Press: "Astros book first trip to playoffs since 2005; will meet Yankees on Tuesday", ESPN.com, October 5, 2015
- Ted Berg: "9 awesome things about the Houston Astros", For the Win, USA Today Sports, October 7, 2015. 
- Michael Clair: "5 things the Astros need to reach playoffs", mlb.com, May 9, 2015. 
- Alyson Footer: "15 for '15: Done rebuilding, Astros bring home W's", mlb.com, December 28, 2015. 
- Richard Justice: "The Astros are a joy, and dangerous", mlb.com, May 24, 2015. 
- Jacob Lourim: "From sellers to cellar to stellar: Astros rise quickly to top of AL", USA Today Sports, May 28, 2015. 
- Bob Nightengale: "The Astros know it: They - and Carlos Correa - are kind of a big deal", USA Today Sports, June 9, 2015. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Astros need road success to finish remarkable turnaround", USA Today Sports, September 10, 2015. 
- Jorge L. Ortiz: "Bruised but not buried, Astros continue fight for AL West title", USA Todaty Sports, September 17, 2015. 
- Tracy Ringolsby: "Astros' next wave learning on the job quickly: Correa receiving most attention, but Tucker, Springer, McCullers worthy of credit", mlb.com, June 18, 2015.