Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/7/12
HOUSTON There was a time in late May when what the Astros did on Saturday against the Brewers wasn't so foreign, when pluck and persistence positioned them to be among the surprises in baseball. They were opportunistic and committed to doing the little things that would not only enable them to perform beyond their limitations but, more importantly, to win. On May 25 the Astros won in Los Angeles and pulled to within one game of .500. Since then they have lost 19 of 22 road games and, subsequently, all of the momentum they had accrued. That's what made the familiarity featured in their 6-3 victory over Milwaukee at Minute Maid Park so gratifying. The Astros swung their bats with aggression, ran the bases with passion and precision and, aside from a hiccup in the top of the sixth inning, defended sufficiently. They played this way before and showcased the hilt of their potential. As a younger team reliant upon largely inexperienced position players, the Astros are learning that attention to detail must be their calling card. "We don't have the kind of talent that we're going to just blow people out. We've got to do all the right things," said Astros left fielder J.D. Martinez, whose three-hit game on Saturday was the 11th of his career. "We've got to get on, we've got to get people over, we've got to cash in when the opportunity is there. Today, especially, we did that. "This is the big leagues; your concentration has to be there every day. There's no off day, there's no easy day, there's no day where you can just show up and get the job done because your talent is that good. We don't have that kind of talent. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of guys learning, and I feel like, myself included, we've got to come out every day and concentrate and focus. We can't afford to give at-bats away." From the very start against the Brewers (39-45) the Astros (33-52) displayed that brand of vigor, from Jordan Schafer scampering into third base for a leadoff triple in the first to Jose Altuve beating Brewers right-hander Zack Greinke to the bag for an infield single one at-bat later. Greinke spiked the ball into the dirt in disgust after losing his footrace with Altuve, earning an ejection for himself and manager Ron Roenicke. The Astros kept pushing the issue. Altuve dashed to third base on an infield single from Martinez later in the first. In the third, Jed Lowrie, whose RBI double scored Martinez and bumped the Astros' lead to 3-0, tagged up from second base on a fly ball to right field from Chris Johnson. His awareness preceded another fly ball from Jason Castro, with Lowrie in position to score what proved to be the winning run. For the first six weeks of the season the Astros played this way more often than not. They drew walks, delivered with runners in scoring position, and advanced runners when the opportunity was presented. But then they grew weary, whether from attrition or an unforgiving road schedule. The walks diminished and the strikeouts accumulated. Personnel changed and the losses mounted. And now, with the unofficial second half of the season set to commence next week, the Astros must determine how to reestablish the identity that left them feeling so spry. "We've been through a tough stretch," Schafer said, not specifically referencing the Astros' nine-game losing streak snapped on Saturday. "It's nice to finally be rewarded for putting together a quality game. Obviously we haven't had too many quality games of late, but it's nice to be able to go out and put some things together and get that 'W.'" The Astros have their template for moderate success. Their talent won't overwhelm teams, and they remain susceptible to exceptional pitching because of their inexperience and injury-ravaged roster. They will in all likelihood get even younger after the trade deadline comes and goes near the close of July, with prospects joining the fray if pitchers Wandy Rodriguez, Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon are shipped out as expected. However, the Astros' strengths are as evident as their deficiencies. They can scrap and claw. They can take extra bases and showcase spirit. Having once piqued the interest of their flagging fan base with grit and hustle, the Astros can revisit that style of play and make what transpired Saturday the norm rather than the exception. All of that is possible. "It's all going to come together because if you're able to play consistently good baseball day in and day out, their skills are going to get better and they're going to develop," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "And you know what's going to happen when that starts happening? We start winning a lot of games." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Is Madison Bumgarner a bully?
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Cubs sign Theo Epstein to five-year extension

Marlins players surrounded Jose Fernandez’s hearse during its procession

Jason Garrett: Dez Bryant has hairline fracture in knee

Newspaper runs insensitive headline following Mets win

Curt Schilling plans to run against Elizabeth Warren in 2018

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Tebow homers on first pitch he sees in first game

Report: Garoppolo still dealing with shoulder pain, mobility

J.J. Watt placed on IR, reportedly expected to miss rest of 2016

Nationals GM: Strasburg ‘unlikely to pitch in NLDS’

Nebraska regent wants players kicked off team for kneeling during anthem

WATCH: Wayne Gretzky tells the hilarious story of his secret Hall of Fame visit

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

2016 Ryder Cup preview: Five things to watch this weekend

Ryan Kesler disappointed with lack of excitement at World Cup

Lesser known MMA fighters who could be ready for the WWE

Box Score: 9/28 - Bosh, FIFA, Ali and Mangenius

Geno Smith deletes Instagram post possibly critical of Jets

Most glaring flaw for each MLB playoff contender

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WNBA Semifinals preview: Will the rust show for Lynx, Sparks?

Breaking down baseball’s Cy Young ballot

TailGreater: 'Sterngating' with the Huskies

Can anyone challenge the Cavs in murky Eastern Conference?

The Worst - NFL Week 3: Steve Smith, Odell Beckham & of course the Browns

FIFA 17 review: O jogo bonito

To save his legacy Chris Bosh must first protect his health

What the NBA (and world) looked like before Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan

A fond farewell to Vin Scully

So where will the ACC football championship be played?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker