There is simply no stopping the Houston Astros right now.
It was the Kansas City Royals' turn to try to stop the Astros juggernaut Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, and in the 2015 ALDS rematch, Houston walked away with a 7-3 victory (box score). Brian McCann had the game's big blow, a two-run home run off Ian Kennedy.
It was the 11th win in a row for the Astros -- they've won 22 of their past 27 overall -- and it improved their MLB-best record to 42-16. Their plus-106 run differential is far and away the best in baseball.
Because that's not impressive enough, the Astros improved their AL West lead over the idle Seattle Mariners to 14 games. The Astros have never had a division lead this large in franchise history.
The Astros' 14-game lead in the AL West is their largest divisional lead in club history.— Jake Kaplan (@jakemkaplan) June 6, 2017
The Astros are ahead of the Chicago Cubs' pace last season, when the Cubs went 41-17 in their first 58 games, though Chicago had a far better run differential (plus-149) than the Astros do now. Still, wins and losses really are the only things that matter.
It's not often a team wins 42 of its first 58 games. It has only been done two other times over the past 30 seasons. Here's the list:
|Year/Team||Record after 58 Games||Rest of Season Record||Final Record||Postseason?|
Lost ALCS in 5 games
Won World Series in 4 games
After years of rebuilding, including three straight seasons with 100-plus losses from 2011-13, the Astros seem to have found the right mix of young stars and veteran leaders. Over the winter they added McCann and Carlos Beltran to a core that includes Carlos Correa and George Springer, among others.
Despite their great start and 14-game division lead, I would expect the Astros to be pretty aggressive at the trade deadline, similar to the Cubs a year ago. This might be Houston's best chance to win with this core. As Theo Epstein said after making the Aroldis Chapman trade last year, "If not now, when?" The time is now for the Astros.