The Astros may have ended the season on a 15-game losing streak to give them a 51-111 record, but there was plenty to cheer about in 2013.
The best feel-good stories were 31-year-old catcher Cody Clark making his major league debut after 11 years in the minors, followed by his first major league hit after a 0-for-25 start to his career. The major league pitching debut of 23-year-old Jarred Cosart, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Tampa Bay. Cosart threw eight-plus innings of shutout ball in a 2-1 win over the Rays. And Brandon Barnes becoming the everyday center fielder after eight years in the minor leagues.
From a team standpoint, a major highlight was winning on opening day at Minute Maid Park on March 31, beating the Rangers 8-2 in the club’s first game as a member of the American League. Other highlights were sweeping a six-game road series at Colorado (two games) and at Anaheim (four games) from May 29-June 3, and sweeping a three-game series at Seattle from Sept. 9-11.
Here is a list of some of the better moments this season from the Astros:
- Hitting six home runs in an 11-7 win over Baltimore on June 5.
- Barnes hitting for the cycle against the Mariners in a five-hit game on July 19.
- Barnes’ game-tying three-run home run vs. Minnesota on Sept. 3, a night Barnes had a career-high five RBIs.
- Carlos Pena’s three-run walk-off home run in a 7-4, 10-inning win vs. Milwaukee on June 20.
- Jason Castro, who was the Astros’ lone representative at the 2013 All-Star Game, twice being named American League Player of the Week.
- Moved into the No. 2 spot in the batting order on Sept. 1, Jose Altuve’s 41 hits in September being third highest in franchise history, trailing only Richard Hidalgo’s 49 hits in Sept. 2000 and Cesar Cedeno’s 47 hits in 1977.
- Matt Dominguez hitting three home runs off Texas’ Yu Darvish, including two in one game. Oakland’s Brandon Moss and the Angels’ Mike Trout are the only other players with three home runs off Darvish.
- Brett Oberholtzer’s four-hit (all singles) shutout in a 2-0 win over Seattle on Sept. 1. Oberholtzer, who allowed only two total runs over his first three major league starts, posted a 2.24 ERA in 64.1 innings as a starter.
- Reliever Kevin Chapman setting a franchise record by not allowing an earned run in his first 13 major league appearances to begin a career.
- Jonathan Villar’s straight steal of home vs. Baltimore on July 30.
- The signing of RHP Mark Appel, the first overall pick of the 2013 draft, on June 20.
- The signing of Altuve to a four-year contract extension on July 13, making the second baseman the face of the franchise.
- With his appearance in center field on Sept. 10 at Seattle, Jake Elmore becoming the first player in franchise history to play all nine positions in one season. Elmore caught and pitched on Aug. 19 at Texas.
- LHP Dallas Keuchel beating out Elmore to win the inaugural Dancing with the ‘Stros competition.
Here are the club’s statistical leaders in 2013:
- Altuve led the club in at-bats (626), hits (177), stolen bases (35) and batting average (.283), for players with more than 200 at-bats, sacrifice flies (8), hit into double plays (24) and tied with Chris Carter in runs (64), one more than Castro, and tied in games (152) with Dominguez.
- Carter led the club in home runs (29), RBIs (82), walks (70), total bases (228), one more than Altuve, and strikeouts (212).
- Castro led the club in doubles (35).
- Marwin Gonzalez led the club in sacrifices (8).
- Barnes led the club in hit by pitches (8).
- Jordan Lyles (7-9) led the club in wins.
- Cosart had the lowest ERA (1.95) among the starters.
- Erik Bedard led the club in strikeouts (138).
- Keuchel and Lucas Harrell led the club in innings (153.2), followed by Bedard (151.0).