Astros Week: Pressly Nears Return, Dusty's 2,000

Jose Altuve returns this week after a scary hamstring injury.
Jose Altuve returns this week after a scary hamstring injury. Photo by Jack Gorman
While the Astros continue to muddle around .500, trying to get healthy and get off their sluggish start at the plate, there is plenty happening in and around the ballclub. The win over division rival Seattle on Monday was a good start at turning things around. Jeremy Peña continues to shine both with his glove and bat. His two-run homer was the nail in the Mariners coffin that started with (shocker) Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi had been less than stellar, but hurled a gem for the 3-0 win at Minute Maid. Let's see more of that before we start dusting off the Cy Young award. Two more at home with the M's before a weekend set with the scuffling Detroit Tigers — former manager A.J. Hinch will be back in the house, hopefully not dominating his old team like he did early in the season last year.

Here are a few more thoughts on the 'Stros.

Jose Altuve is back.

When the Astros second baseman slammed his helmet on the ground in disgust after tweaking his hamstring legging out a grounder to first, it conjured memories of hamstrings of years past. At one point, it appeared the entire world of Houston sports was suffering from pulls to the finicky leg muscle. So, when it was Altuve's turn, there was a collective wince from fans. Fortunately, Altuve's hammy bounced back quickly and he was back at second Monday night looking as spry as ever.

Yordan Alvarez is raking.

After missing a week with an illness in early April, Alvarez has been on a tear. He returned on April 18 with two home runs and has had five more since — four in the last five games. He's tied for second in that category in baseball. He's had 17 hits in 15 games and is slashing .262/.360/.615/.975. Alvarez, who has been playing fairly routinely in left field, has also shown solid defense and an above average arm. He is rapidly becoming one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball and is currently on a ferocious tear.

Closer Ryan Pressly doing rehab in Sugar Land.

The hard-throwing reliever has been on the shelf since April 14 with knee soreness, but threw for the Space Cowboys Tuesday night having a clean inning on only six pitches. Pressly was eligible to return last weekend, but the team had not seen enough progress from him yet. The rehab start would seem to indicate that he is progressing and could return within a few days. Adding Pressly will make an encouragingly solid pen that much better and really bolster the back portion of their pitching depth for late in games and high leverage situations.

click to enlarge The 2,000th career win. - PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
The 2,000th career win.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Manager Dusty Baker gets 2,000 wins.

The 2k milestone is one of those Hall of Fame markers in baseball. It's likely he will be in the top 10 in wins all time before the All-Star break. He is also the first black manager to reach 2,000 career wins. Baker has been just what the doctor ordered after the cheating scandal and the pandemic. He's a steadying force in the clubhouse and knows he is holding down the spot until he retires and a younger manager takes over. But until then, he's a legend who is able to impart his wisdom to youngsters like Peña and Alvarez as well as a pitching staff full of youthful talent.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke