The Houston Astros dug themselves out of a big hole.
On June 20, they were 35-36 and 11 games behind the Texas Rangers in the AL West, and it looked as if Texas was going to build an insurmountable lead by the All-Star Break.
But from June 21 to July 22, Houston went 17-8 and saved its season, as the Rangers went 9-16 and gave it an opening.
Texas did increase its lead back to 6½ games entering play on Friday, however, as the Astros have lost 10 of their last 12.
To expect Houston not to come back down to earth after that strong run in July would have been foolish. But that type of a swoon, especially after putting the pedal to the floor and pulling into drafting position on the Rangers’ rear bumper, was deflating.
It was doubly so after its front office, headed by general manager Jeff Luhnow, made no impact moves for the major league club at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. All it did was shed a little dead weight by shipping out veteran right-hander Scott Feldman and Triple-A pitcher Josh Fields for two teenage prospects.
Players could see it as a negative when a team doesn’t make any moves at the trade deadline. A lack of acquisitions might mean the front office doesn’t have enough confidence that its squad can make a run, so it is unwilling to part with prized prospects to bring in key veteran pieces.
Last year, the Astros dealt for pitchers Scott Kazmir and Mike Fiers, as well as outfielder Carlos Gomez. It was clear they were going for it all.
That was not the case this season.
But their players could take it as the front office having confidence in the guys already in the clubhouse. After all, they did recover from a large deficit to get themselves back into the hunt in the West, and they are also in the thick of the AL Wild Card race — 3½ games behind the Boston Red Sox for the second spot.
And what better way to rebound from such a divot over their last 12 contests than taking the series against Texas at home this weekend. If that occurs, buckle your seat belts for the final third of the 2016 regular season.
As it has already proven, the young talent on Houston’s roster is capable of anything, although it might not be seasoned enough to do something special this year. That is, at least, the hope of the rest of the league.
Right now, the Astros are a young-but-promising kid that looks as if it currently lacks the overall firepower to inflict serious damage.
But if that super-talented child were to grow up over the next 54 games — look out.