Despite the expectation of being one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros are actually playing pretty well at this point in the season. There isn't a lot of negativity around the clubhouse toward the lack of star power on the roster, or being the embodiment of mediocrity and sometimes inferiority.
No, the Astros are 12-14 after their win against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, which was their fourth consecutive victory. The Astros put up all five of their runs in the first two innings while getting off to an explosive start against the defending champions.
Before that game, a few Astros players shared some thoughts on the season with Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon. Here is what J.A. Happ had to say:
"I just think there is a little more positivity. It's the way we're approaching it. We feel like we're scrappy, we're in a lot of these games, and we're doing the little things to keep the lead when we're up and the little things to fight back when we're down.
"So far, that's a different mentality than last year."
It helps that Houston is battling in a not-so-spectacular National League Central Division in which the Cardinals have the second worst record of any division leader in the league. The Astros could actually be just as competitive late in the season as they are now, considering the only teams in the division with better records at this point are the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. The Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs are in no better shape than Houston.
No one is getting ahead of themselves, calling the Stros contenders or anything. It's just that gone are the days when losing is the automatic expectation and attitude. That's not just because of some four-game winning streak, rather the new outlook with new management and a bunch of players with a lot to prove.
"Nobody wants to go through what we went through last year," Happ said. "We kind of know if we all do our part and pick each other up, that won't happen again."
Read more about the Astros at The Crawfish Boxes.