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Houston Astros Weekend: Is The Hitting Contagious, And What To Do With Dallas Keuchel?

How did the Astros get all of those extra-base hits over the weekend?

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 23: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros throws against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park on June 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 23: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros throws against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park on June 23, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Astros appear to have discovered the formula for winning baseball over the weekend against the Cleveland Indians. Led by the command of lefties Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ in the Stros' back-to-back wins against the Tribe, Houston also lit up the scoreboard with 15 runs in two games.

That's after scoring one run through the three-game span prior to that.

The biggest difference at the plate was Chris Johnson, who went 7-for-12 with 5 RBIs in the series, and J.D. Martinez, who'd been struggling but came through with home runs on Saturday and Sunday.

Considering how poorly the Stros were performing at the plate before that fifth inning on Saturday that saw four consecutive extra-base hits, one at least has to wonder if the hitting was contagious. In a lineup full of guys who haven't hit well this season, seeing one guy do well in an at-bat seemed to do something for the next guy who stepped to the plate.

And before you knew it, Houston was hitting home runs and doubles off the walls at Minute Maid Park, doing it in bunches too.

When Johnson was interviewed after the game, he even admitted to the fact that good hitting rubs on the lineup. But just as good as the hitting was...

Jose Altuve going down with a hamstring injury was bad. If you look at how hard he was running to first base on that play (like he always does), you can understand how such an injury would occur. It's like Atluve doesn't just run as fast as he can, rather he runs faster than he can.

Every Astros fan is waiting to see when the 5 foot 5 inch Altuve returns to the lineup. And speaking of lineups...

What to do with Dallas Keuchel in the mix of the Astros' pitching staff?

Bud Norris seems to be ready to return to the rotation after suffering from a left knee sprain earlier this month. Keuchel not only filled in for Norris honorably, but showed that he's ready to contribute to the Stros' developmental process as one of the organization's finest lefties.

Keuchel became the first Houston pitcher this season to go a full nine innings, and he showed a lot mental fortitude on Saturday retiring nine straight after giving up a home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. The young lefty was also impressive in that he didn't blow you away with his stuff.

In fact, he only had five strikeouts in his two starts, so he's allowing the defense to play behind him. Does his success disrupt the rotation a bit?

Brad Mills already avoided the subject before Sunday's game, but he was right when he said he "doesn't have to make that decision yet' (as to what he should do with Keuchel, which is likely sending him back to Oklahoma City).

It'll be an uncomfortable situation to send Keuchel back to OKC, especially if he could be getting some valuable big league experience in Houston.

Read more about the Astros at The Crawfish Boxes and SB Nation Houston. As always, Baseball Nation is your source for news and analysis around Major League Baseball.

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