Astros learning to win close games

Astros learning to win close games
June 16, 2013, 12:30 pm
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In their three-game winning streak the Astros have beaten the Chicago White Sox in the first two games of the four-game series. Both wins on Friday and Saturday over the White Sox were by one run, 2-1 and 4-3 respectively.

Entering Sunday’s game with Chicago, the Astros are 25-44 on the season. And in one-run games the Astros are a respectable 9-11.

“A lot of guys who are in here (the Astros clubhouse) right now are going to be part of this team next year,” said outfielder Trevor Crowe. “And if this group of guys wants to be a championship club, you have to win close games.

“To be able to do it now while the guys are getting learning experience under their belt and maturing at the major league level, is great because down the road when this team really wants to compete, we’re going have to do that (win close games) on a consistent basis.”

On Friday, the Astros scored both their runs in a two-run fifth inning, taking advantage of two errors by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

On Saturday, a hustle play in the fifth inning was pivotal in the win. From first base, with the hit-and-run on, Matt Dominguez scored on a double down the right-field line by Brandon Barnes that gave the Astros a 4-1 lead.

“We’re doing those things that are necessary late in the game,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “That ends up being a huge play.”

Since May 15 the Astros are 15-14, winning three of their last four one-run games.

“Winning the close games is what makes good teams good,” said Astros catcher Jason Castro, who hit his ninth home run of the season on Saturday.”We’re starting to learn that.”

The Astros are hoping for a big carryover from how they won Saturday night’s game. Closer Jose Veras teamed up with shortstop Ronny Cedeno to pick off pinch runner Jordan Danks at second base to end the game.

It was the first time in Houston franchise history (beginning play in 1962) that a game ended by an Astro pitcher picking off a base runner.

“The way we won last night was unusual, it was fun,” said Castro. “It definitely lifts the guys up. To see the game end like that fires you up and gets you going. That will be good moving forward.”

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