2014 Houston Astros
2014 Houston Astros / Franchise: Houston Astros / BR Team Page
History, Comments, Contributions
Coming off three straight seasons of losing 100 or more games, and having lost their last 15 games of the 2013 season, the 2014 Houston Astros turned a page on Opening Day, played on April 1st in front of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park. They snapped the losing streak with a 6-2 win over the New York Yankees, with a number of off-season acquisitions making key contributions. Starting pitcher Scott Feldman, signed as a free agent, pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win; CF Dexter Fowler, acquired in a trade, led off the bottom of the 1st with a double, igniting a four-run inning against CC Sabathia; and 1B Jesus Guzman, coming via another trade, hit a two-run homer in that inning. Other newcomers in the starting line-up included RF L.J. Hoes, acquired in a late-season trade in 2013, who also homered in the game, and LF Robbie Grossman and SS Jonathan Villar, who had made their debut during the season. Of course, the Astros had also been winners on opening day a year earlier, before setting a franchise record for losses with 111, so it was a bit early to pop the champagne. But this time, the Astros did not get annihilated in their second game, but in fact beat the Yankees again on April 2nd, 3-1, behind an excellent pitching performance by young Jarred Cosart and more good work from Fowler, who homered against Hiroki Kuroda to lead off the bottom of the 1st and added a run-scoring triple in the 3rd; 3B Matt Dominguez added a homer late in the game.
If the Astros' 2-0 start had given rise to hopes of a turnaround, those were soon dashed as they lost 6 of their next 7 games and played quite poorly during that stretch. They began 6-14, but half of the six wins came against former Cy Young winners (Félix Hernández, R.A. Dickey and Sabathia). May turned out to be the Astros' best month in years, as they won 14 games for the first time since 2008. That included a six-game winning streak, that coincided with the emergence of George Springer as a feared power hitter. The rookie Springer, one of a number of blue chip prospects coming up through the Astros' farm system, had been called up in late April, after Robbie Grossman had started the season stone cold. It took a while for Springer's bat to get going, but he had a streak of seven homers in seven games in late May, coinciding with the winning streak. His ten homers in the month set an Astros rookie record as well. By winning the annual Civil Rights Game, which the Astros hosted, 2-1 over the Baltimore Orioles on May 30th, they extended their winning streak to 7 games and guaranteed their first winning month since 2010. When they swept their cross-state rivals the Texas Rangers in a three-game series on July 7-9th, they did the unthinkable - pass the Rangers to move into fourth place in the AL West.
On August 15th, the Astros defeated the Boston Red Sox, 5-3, for their 51st win of the year. That matched their win total in 2013 with a month and a half still to play. Yet, in spite of the marked improvement, manager Bo Porter was fired, along with bench coach Dave Trembley, on September 1st in what was characterized as the result of a power struggle with GM Jeff Luhnow. Minor league instructor Tom Lawless was named as interim manager to finish the season as the Astros were only two games below .500 the rest of the way, finishing with 70 wins, their best total since 2010. There was now light at the end of the tunnel, but still, few people could anticipate how completely things would turn around in 2015.
Awards and Honors
- All-Star: Jose Altuve
- AL Gold Glove: Dallas Keuchel (P)
- AL Silver Slugger Award: Jose Altuve (2B)
- 2014 Topps All-Star Rookie Team: George Springer (OF)
- Paul White: "Bo Porter's firing shows Astros still all-in with GM", USA Today Sports, September 1, 2014.