5 questions that could stay with the Astros all season

Houston is in first place and at least a couple of the pistons in the eight-cylinder engine are buzzing. Keeping those two going and trying to get the other six working will be the challenge of the 2015 season. At present, the season is young — only one tenth complete — but there are several questions that may well linger and recur often for Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch.

1. How can Houston overcome streaky hitters?

It’s a fact. With the exception of a few hitters, Houston’s major league roster is streaky. Yes, it will be nice if Jake Marisnick has turned into the next Jose Altuve, but don’t bank on it happening. Chris Carter, Evan Gattis, Jed Lowrie and even George Springer are capable of running off long stretches of .300+ averages. Unfortunately, they likely won’t sustain it, though the streak of Ks will be constant. The challenge for Hinch will be to manage the day-to-day, week-to-week lineup, keeping today’s hot hitters in productive places in the lineup. Face it, putting together an effective lineup is Hinch’s #1 challenge.

Oh, and don’t blame the Astros’ hitting coach (what’s his name again?). These guys have long-established swings, patterns and habits. You can’t change a stance at this stage of a career and you can’t teach hand-eye coordination. It is what it is. A season-long question and dilemma.

2. How does A.J. Hinch keep the back-end of the rotation relevant?

Dallas Keuchel. Check. Collin McHugh. Check. Scott Feldman. Umm, checking. Those three gentlemen likely have spots in the 2015 rotation for as long as they want them. The remaining two spots are reserved for those pitchers who are most effective, perhaps at any given time. To be sure, Roberto Hernandez has earned his spot early on, and Asher Wojciechowski is the fifth starter. For now. Hernandez has a strong history and could go wire to wire this season. The fifth spot could see a revolving door, but here’s the truth: Houston’s season (whether a .500 plus team or a struggling coulda, shoulda, woulda team) may ride on the success of its fourth and fifth starters.

Before October arrives the list of players on the merry-go-round (read: getting starts for Houston) include: Brett Oberholtzer, Sam Deduno, Jake Buchanan, Dan Straily, and don’t rule out Alex White or Thomas Shirley. Mark Appel? We’ll discuss him later. Also wouldn’t be surprising to see Luhnow pick up another waiver wire claim or add another start via the trade route this summer.

3. What to do with Carter, Gattis and Jon Singleton?

Could this be a season-long juggling act? The response could be mitigated by others (e.g. Springer) picking up the pace, but Cartis and Singleton could cause Hinch great heartache this season. Does Singleton have what it takes to be a big league hitter? He’ll likely get one more good shot to make that claim. Perhaps in June. Carter is out of options, but he’ll also have a longer leash because of potential upside (37 home runs in 2014). Gattis — remember those prospects? — is probably in the lineup no matter what happens. But here’s a thought: Gattis hasn’t played one game in the field. Thus, he is the designated hitter. Now, it probably wouldn’t take much to get him ready for left field or first base, but the Astros have given no indication they’re moving in that direction. If that would be in the thinking, you’d figure he’d get a game in left or be taking ground balls at first. Nada. Zilch. Zippo. Have the Astros already given up on Singleton as a solution? Are they content to run with Cartis until all of Hinch’s hair either turns gray or is gone completely? Could the Astros still be searching for an answer at first base and DH in September?

4. What happens at the July 31 deadline?

In the next few weeks, the holes in the lineup will solidify. Currently, right field, center field, third base, shortstop, second base and catcher are spoken for. Not to mention a couple of bench roles. Beyond that, the rest are question marks, at least from the day-to-day perspective. The trade deadline question is no longer will the Astros be sellers or buyers, but how will the Astros improve and which prospects will they use to better the major league roster? That’s the scary part. As deep as the organization has been the last two years, Luhnow has thinned a lot of fat. There are still some position players who may make good trade candidates, but the pitching depth is gone. Can you picture the names Appel, Vincent Velasquez or Michael Feliz in a July 31 trade?

5. How much patience do the Astros have?

I mentioned recently the Astros may not be in a win-now mode, but they are certainly in win-soon phase. That means patience with a .100 hitter won’t go as far as 2014 (see Jonathan Villar). It means a fourth or fifth starter may not get those two extra starts to get his game together. Patience also is a factor for prospects, in the form of restraint. Luhnow and probably Hinch will be tempted to rush along some players, especially if the product at the major league level is suffering. Do they rush — or even push — players like Preston Tucker, Singleton, Carlos Correa or even Appel? Could be tempting come July or August, especially when you measure that against using prospects or others to upgrade through trade. For example, if you want to trade for a starting pitcher, might you choose instead to promote Appel or even a Brady Rodgers or Josh Hader if they pick their games up? Preston Tucker, Matt Duffy or Domingo Santana (again)? Patience, they say, is a virtue the Astros may have tested later this summer.

Questions for your weekend consideration.

  • What question above, or other question you may offer, may be a season-long headache for Houston?
  • If the Astros need a shortstop this summer, would you consider jumping Carlos Correa from Corpus Christi?
  • If it came down to it, would you prefer to use Appel in a trade to upgrade the rotation? Or just push Appel into Houston’s rotation?
  • Is the answer at first base currently in the Astros’ organization?
  • What is Hinch’s biggest challenge? Rotation? Streaky hitters? Keeping bullpen healthy? Something else?

69 comments on “5 questions that could stay with the Astros all season

  1. Great Post. I have to go with #3 Carter Gattis Singleton as they all seem like the same guy, Big pop, big k’s, and no glove. However what do we do with Carter and Gattis if they continue to suck, not many options.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What I would do with Correa is to treat him like you would a great AA player. If the guy is hitting above .320 and playing great defense by July 1 and is healthy, promote him to AAA. That’s what you do, step a player up when he’s earned it. He’s your #1 prospect and if he has lived up to that status, you have to honor that.
    As for Appel. He’s made three starts at AA and has thrown 14 innings. If you planned on him making jumps in leagues or were open to trading him, wouldn’t you showcase him and let him actually pitch normally instead of giving him a five inning/75 pitch shutdown count. At this rate, what anyone will know about Appel is that he will be effective for two times through the order against AA hitters. He’s your #1 hope for a major league starter(right now he’s probably the only hope from what I’ve seen so far this season), so why in the world wouldn’t you let him pitch.
    Since Appel is being babied, I assume they don’t plan on rushing him or trading him.


    • OP, I wondered if they shouldn’t/wouldn’t go the route of Roy O (or now Carlos Rodon) and start Appel in Houston’s bullpen at some point. Keeps his IP down and gives him a taste at the same time. Of course, right now, there’s no need in the pen and no need (unless Deduno moves into the rotation).


    • Appel threw a lot of pitches in college, moreso than an average college player, and he did it at a young age. I can’t blame the Astros for rolling it back some, but the damage may already be done. Most reports I see seem to suggest he was a crisper pitcher as a sophomore in college than he has been as a professional, not just in terms of statistics, but in terms of velocity and movement. Averaging over 7 and a third for the last two seasons in college, yes, he didn’t throw that many innings, but he had some 130+ pitch starts. That wears on a 20 and 21 year olds arm.


      • This is a topic I wonder about. We see a lot written about pitch limits in games, but less talk about the stresses of normal workouts, weight lifting (let’s include cross fit here), bullpen sessions in advance of starts, long tossing, and keg stands. My anecdotal experience and observations are that most injuries take place in a non-game situation. Perhaps it is so difficult to estimate how much work is done outside the lines and impossible to compare those experiences of different settings we emphasize pitch counts.


      • Devin, pitch counts are real tangible way to measure a work load. Especially for a younger pitcher. Everyone has a different workout program and they need to establish it according to their own body.

        I was at a high school game last night, a huge game that would determine a district championship. Both teams are in the playoffs and will be high seeds. Nonetheless, the opposing pitcher was getting close to 100 pitches in the sixth. Someone in the press box said, “Oh, that’s nothing”. He’d apparently thrown 146 pitches in a game just a couple weeks ago! For a 17-year-old kid, that’s just stupid crazy. Sorry, it shouldn’t happen, especially with the hype, adrenalin already flowing pretty heavily.

        Now, here’s what I don’t understand. How could guys 30 years ago so easily pitch on three days’ rest (4-man rotation) and players today seem to get hurt so easily? Personally, I believe some of it has to do with diet, etc., but people will tell you that today’s athlete is in better shape than the guys back in the 70s and 80s. Huh?

        In 1973, Nolan pitched 9+ innings 23 times! 23! He started 39 games! Now, a pitcher is doing good if he starts 30 games.

        Anyway, to your question: Players like Appel are still developing through their college age years, so overuse will absolutely have an impact. And who knows how much he was used in HS or select ball prior to that! Maybe that’s a factor in slowly moving Appel through the system with only 5 IP per game…just biding their time until the team is really ready to compete.

        I don’t have the answers, but it pays to be careful with younger pitchers…in HS and college and even the minors.

        That said, I’d love to sit down with Ryan, Seaver, Vida Blue, Fergie Jenkins, Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat and get their opinions on today’s players. I’m guessing they have candid opinions, though they may not want to share many of those publicly. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • I think to a degree the strength, nutrition and size of these athletes take away from their durability, not add to it. When Ryan was playing, there was only a handful of pitchers that threw over 95, and one or two hitting 100. Today it’s a lot more, and they are larger, stronger, with more muscle mass to put pressure on- giving more opportunity for injury, not less. It’s the same thing in the NBA – I remember Barkley going off about San Antonio’s methods – yes the older guys played more minutes and didn’t take games off, but they were also like 25 pounds lighter on average, and that matters. You want athletes that can jump out of the gym, sure, but since most NBA guys look like middle linebackers now, you will have to deal with more problems physically. It’s amazing that LeBron went as long as he did before having issues.


      • Chip, I do agree with you. Fwiw, there is no reason a HS pitcher should exceed 100 pitches in a 7 inning game. My recollection is a 75 pitch max at my school.


      • That’s interesting because that is the exact reason they passed on Rodon last year…too many pitches during his senior year at college. So far, it doesn’t seem to have hurt him.


      • Rodon left after his second season in college. He doesn’t have the same miles. IMO definitely a mistake to have passed on him.

        In defense though Rodon did, according to most reports, have a significant drop off in velocity the second half of that second season.


    • Devin, of course, in high school and college, most pitchers are throwing only once per week, instead of every five days, but it’s the young arm and shoulder that are still growing. I don’t recall what my son’s pitch count was in high school, but I don’t recall him ever hitting 100 pitches. He was the ace of the staff for three years and he didn’t really pitch until he got to high school! But he had to have TJ when he was 21…crazy. And, I do know his diet regimen and it was quite good. Quite good!

      I will say this. I coached for a number of years and I also have been around good high school and college programs. As a coach, it is hard today to pull a pitcher who’s getting it done. The pressure to win is evident…at every level and is a factor in the decision-making for coaches. Don’t let them tell you it isn’t.

      Also know this: It’s not uncommon for a college scout, recruiter or coach to inquire about how much travel ball a pitcher has participated in and how long he’s been pitching. Those who’ve been pitching since 10, 11 or 12 may be much closer to being “done” at 19 or 20 or 21 than others. In those cases, the damage has already been done!


  3. Re: the hitting coach, not expecting wholesale changes to a swing is correct, but that isn’t where they earn their money. Last season we saw Matt Dominguez completely change the balance in his stance. He was leaning out with his upper body. The outcome was a change in his swing plane and lack of consistent coordination between the hands and hips. I can’t imagine it was old what’s his names intent to make that adjustment…the fact it happened was either a failure on his part or validation of the Valbuena pickup. Keeping the hitters fundamentally sound is the coaches responsibility.

    Also, as pitchers have started to catch on that teams are taking more pitches to up the pitch counts we are seeing a lot of get-me-over first pitches. There is no reason for JFSF to look for a pitch to jack every time up. If the tendency of a guy is a mediocre spinner on the outer half, having him situationally approach the at bat looking for that pitch (and serving it into RF for a single) can pay big dividends. Let me put it this way – getting a pitcher to work more often from the stretch will be more beneficial than seeing extra pitches you don’t intend to swing at.


  4. 4. July 31 deadline – I can’t see Appel in a trade unless they are selling when Luhnow thinks his value has peaked. I could see either of VV or MF getting packaged because they are taking up 40 man space and aren’t looking close to the 25.

    – SS this summer should only be Correa if we are somehow in position to win the division in late July and they think he can help get us there. Otherwise, let him get experience at all stops…he had half a season last year and going to the end of Sept is a big jump.
    – Which route gives better value for the next three years? I suspect keeping Appel helps us more in 2016 and beyond…but it depends on the return.
    – Probably. Davis, Reed, Gregor, and Singleton all have a shot. I like Davis the best and don’t see him staying at 3B.
    – Strikeouts.


  5. I don’t think they have given up on Singleton. I think Carter is the one that has to beware if Singleton starts slugging at AAA. Unless he is hitting outrageously at AAA though I don’t see any reason to rush Big Jon. Let him feast on AAA pitchers for a year and convince himself that he is still the professional hitter everyone has been telling him he is his entire life.

    I think Gattis is our DH for the foreseeable future, and its for the best. He can tell you his knee feels great today, but will it on game 7 of a 9 game, 10 day road trip is the real question. Give it a year to stabilize, this time next year when Carter is probably gone, if Singleton isn’t the answer, he might be. I’m not sure 1B is the place for weak knees though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OP talk to me o these guys , you are more versed in the farm than me, Chase McDonald 1B seems to be doing quite well as he moves up the system, ditto JD Davis at 3B, seems no one is talking about them


      • When I saw Chase McDonald at 2B last night I almost had another stroke. He is 6’4 and at least 260 pounds and is a first baseman. He is hitting 100 points higher than he ever has in minor league ball and I think we have to attribute half of it to be a terrific hot streak and the other half to be Lancaster. His sample size is getting larger as he has batted in every game, mostly as a DH. He is being pushed off of first base by JA Reed who is hitting about 150 points lower against the same pitchers. McDonald may be starting to blossom but we need to see him do this in AA next year before we get excited.
        What I like about McDonald is he is a big guy who has always hit like a big guy. He plays a decent 1B and he is huge but not fat. With the Astros starving at 1B he presents himself to us as a possible banquet. He always has had above average stats against righties and absolutely destroys lefties, so that plays well in MMP. He does have the strikeout tool, so there is that.
        Davis is another RH power hitter, who I think is much more athletic, at 6’3″ and 215 pounds. His hit tool is higher than McD’s is and he doesn’t strike out near as much. He doesn’t have Chase’s power, but few do and Davis projects to be a HR hitter in MMP if he makes it there. There are questions about him being able to stay at 3B at the highest level but he could do it. There is no question in my mind that if he develops as a major league power bat that he could be a starting 1B for any team. Davis has better than average speed for a 3B and is a good baserunner. Could play outfield. He is very, very young. I see him in High A all year and AA all next year unless he just goes bananas in CC the first half of next year. If I had to bet money on his career or Moran’s career, I would bet on Davis.


  6. And to give my opinions on the questions –

    #1 – Nothing. Deal with the streakiness, that is what a high SLG% team will do. I would like to balance it with a more OBP guys so that when the balls aren’t flying into corners or over the wall the team can still scrap out a few runs, but at the same time you really can’t bench Carter or Gattis, you pretty much have to take the bad with the coming good. The saving grace has been that Marisnick is playing out of his depth, and with Valbuena has kept the offense afloat.

    #2 – Seems Hernandez is working out well at the back end. I would rather see Feldman pushed to 4 spot – seems better to have a more consistent presence at 3. Feldman could show up and give you 7 solid tomorrow, or he could, every once in a while, give up 7 in 3 and put you out of that game (and tax your pen for the rest of the week). I think the inconsistency that Hinch expected from Feldman, Hernandez and Wojo is why he seperated McHugh and Keuchel the degree that he did.

    #3 – Let it ride. Singleton will either prove to deserve another shot, or he becomes the next AAAA player. Carter morphs into Rob Deer for weeks at a time, one day he may get stuck in Rob Deer mode. Gattis could end up on the DL just tripping on the stairs. Keep all 3 for now, but that could change by the end of the year.

    #4 – I don’t think they would trade Appel. I hope they wouldn’t trade Velasquez as I think he is the singular best pitcher Houston has property over – but they dude has got to pitch. I am not sure other teams would buy high on Velasquez, so it’s better to see how it plays out. One guy I could see move at the deadline is Carter if he and Singleton are both playing well and Gattis is healthy. Feldman is another guy, but I here is what I think of that – we know Keuchel and McHugh can pitch on a winning staff, we know 4 and 5 are gonna be mixed up some and have some inconistencies – if the Astros are in contention around the deadline, it will be because Feldman has been consistent, making him hard to trade. If they are out of it, it will likely be because Feldman and those under him have been poor, making him difficult to trade. If Feldman is pitching well and we are still out of it, it will probably be because of a Keuchel or McHugh injury, and he is moveable, and might be moved.

    #5 – Patience – obviously less. I don’t think Villar got himself sent down as much as they really just wanted Fields here and Villar had an option, but the day he showed up to play SS he must have been wearing the wrong glove or maybe even throwing with the wrong arm, or something. That singular day didn’t help his cause, but that something the Astros of the last 3 years would have shrugged shoulders on and said, meh it’s growing pains. Thats out the window now. Grossman may only get about 10 more plate appearances to clean up that .190 or he is next. I think their level of patience with the prospects will only lengthen though given Singletons failures, and maybe even JDM’s blossoming (though I expect that JDM regression any day now).

    Season long headache – inconsistency in the lineup caused by the K monster.
    Would I consider Correa – I would have considered him out of ST. He is the best SS that is a Houston property. He should be here now. And I have no patience, my wife reminds me of that daily.
    Appel – neither. I would rather him spend the year at AA and AAA, and see if his arm is good.
    Hinch – biggest challenge will be mixing the lineup. Only two players in the lineup are everyday, every at bat mashers – Altuve and Springer. Everyone else, you have to worry about what pitcher they are facing and what the book is on them. That is going to only toughen with 3 bench players to match with. How long do the Astros carry 13 pitchers?


    • Don’t see how you can mention Springer in the same category as Altuve. Altuve measures his slumps in hours/days while Springer can slump for weeks. The only regular who has any history of consistency is Lowrie.

      Liked by 1 person

    • True, maybe premature to do that.

      I’ll say this, though my intent is to explain that you probably don’t have to worry WHAT type of pitcher you are facing. Throws hard, throws soft, doesn’t matter. Lefty/righty, doesn’t matter. Power/Command, doesn’t matter.

      It probably does matter when its Carter – for example, having Carter start against Felix Hernandez is asking for an 0-4 with 3 Ks. Probably the same for Gattis. And, yes, atm, probably the same for Springer – but Springer has the talent to change that. Carter probably just is what he is, as is Gattis, as is Valbuena, Lowrie, Castro, they just are what they are.

      Altuve is the one guy that we can all agree, its matchup irrelevant. The rest, a team can plan for how to get them out.


  7. I am busy trying to get my father in law released from the hospital so just a quick note on pitchers.
    I don’t think I have ever seen guys with better technique as far as using their legs (their biggest muscles) to support their throwing than Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver. I deeply believe that their great technique helped protect those arms.


    • Dang, dave, can you imagine, Ryan, Seaver, Koosman and then Matlack joining them? Could have course altering for the Big Red Machine or the Pittsburgh “We Are Family” Pirates!


    • Right leg discomfort while on the bases late in Wednesday’s game. Held out as a precaution. Drellich says they are not sure about tomorrow.


  8. Nothing makes a baseball player look dumber than when caught in a rundown. Marwin has picked up the Villar flu.

    An encouraging game overall. Forget the pen for a minute. Keuchel makes it look easy. And some of our hitters, including Springer, are starting to get base hits.


    • I am absolutely positive that Marwin intentionally sacrificed himself there to make the cutoff man let that insurance run score by enticing him to cut the ball and get the rundown.


      • I’ll watch them both again OP. I’d like to hope that Marwin would not allow it to happen twice to him in the same ballgame.

        I was just going to add that Conger is a bad backstop. And he’s no pitch framing expert either. Was that really the sales pitch on the guy?


      • OP, I can’t agree on this one. Nice clutch hit, but that run from first was scoring standing up. If Marwin had determined to get himself in a rundown over there, it was a bad base running decision regardless. But I still he hung himself out to dry, and not intentionally.


      • I’m starting to think the Angels pitching staff was probably the largest contributor to his mythical “pitch framing” stat.


  9. Well that was a game where all the percentages appeared to move towards the norm. There was no way that the hitting is as bad as it has been, and there were some really clutch hits down the stretch. There is no way the bullpen is perfect and tonight they gave up some runs but were good enough to save the game anyway, And it was Qualls who finished it up by defying the percentages against his demon team.
    In the tenth inning Springer did not try to overpower the fastball on the outside corner, but slashed it into the opposite field corner. In the eleventh, he hit a pitch on the inside half and down, and went to left center with it. Just beautiful swings where all of the tension melted and his talent took over. Gosh, it was beautiful to see.
    Hinch thought that a struggling Grossman would se a recognizable pitch on 3-0, so he gave Bob the green light and it payed off with solid contact against a drawn in infield. Marwin pinch ran for Gattis in the ninth and then came up in the DH spot in the tenth and sees a lot of pitches before he get ahold of one and takes it to the gap for two RBIs.
    What a wonderful win: on the road, against a good ballclub, in the rain, in extra innings, after being shut out for nine innings. Probably not a game they would have won last year.


  10. I only got to see the end of the game. two innings of Shaft Keuchel – who is pitching insanely good…..and the clutch hitting and the crazy bullpen melt downs.
    Hinch did something I would not have done – leaving Neshek in the game when he had given up two runs and put a guy on 2nd with nobody out and Hinch ended up right. He go two outs without letting the guy move up and Qualls got the last out and they somehow hold onto first place.
    I wonder it the rain was doing in the pitchers towards the end as both bullpens melted down (was it raining earlier?) Great game – too bad Shaft did not get the win, but at least the good guys did.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Somehow, in the middle of the night, Lancaster managed to score 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth and beat Modesto 11-10 on waves of singles and errors. At one time the Jethawks had a 5-0 lead in this game. Oh, the California League.


  12. A. Feldman is 60-70 (WHIP 1.357) over 11 years. That is who he is. B. Back when Ryan was pitching, someone said that Ryan and Seaver could throw 85 MPH by placing the ball on their shoulders. Got as much out of their delivery as anyone I have ever seen. C. Much talk in ST about the “flexible” roster. It appears to not be so, other than MarGo. D. In the old days, players NEVER lifted weights and sold insurance in the off season. (Plus they all used tobacco). Although a Christian, I see a little “evolution” going on here 🙂


  13. We don’t win that game last year. You got ya a real pitcher right there folks…..Dallas
    Keuchel walked off that field giving up ZERO for 9 innings. Luhnow should be in Crane’s office this morning trying to figure out how to lock this guy up for the next 3-5
    years. It might just take a game like this to ramp up these guys, to think they can beat ANYBODY! I’m sure Hinch and the guys went to bed tired, but with a smile on their lips………I know I DID!!


      • Mr. Bill, I wasn’t referring to the hits, only to the 17 consecutive scoreless regulation innings by Astros’ pitching going back to the last Seattle game…


      • I just want to point out that I’ve been praising Lowrie’s defense for three years, and most people have been calling me an idiot. He did make a bad read that cost Wojo a run the other day, but has been overall very good.


  14. After the extra innings last night it is good to see Feldman having a good day, keeping his pitch count down, and getting a lot of ground ball outs. Please,nobody let these guys in on the secret that they are not supposed to be in first place in the AL West.


  15. It is really quite amazing, however. The Astros go to an 8-man bullpen and we start discussions about the old days when pitchers go deep into games on four-man rotations…then Keuchel and Feldman promptly follow all that up with their outings. Man, life is good…at least through six this afternoon.

    Okay, y’all take care of things…getting back on the road, so I’ll be “in touch” with the game intermittently. Mr. Bill, if anything goes south, I’ll be holding you accountable!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. If you missed it, Wandy Rodriguez is back in the big leagues. He started yesterday for Texas and gave up one run in five innings.


  17. Here’s an interesting thought: At 10-7 and with five games left in April, the Astros need one more April win to go .500. When was Houston’s last .500 April?

    Two more wins — and keep in mind McHugh and Keuchel will both pitch in that five-game span — would have Houston at 12-10 for the month.

    Even 12-10 seems a little disappointing, but I’ll take what I can get.


  18. One other little fact: Only the Royals have given up fewer runs (in one less game) than the Astros this season thus far in the AL. Houston has a -1 run differential, so as the staff starts giving up an extra run or two per game, the offense will need to make up the slack. That said, if Springer and Carter start hitting, I don’t see that as a problem.


  19. *Houston is playing a lot better baseball now than they were the first time Graveman pitched against them.
    *I think Springer let Oakland know there would be no comeback today with his bomb in the ninth.
    *Hinch made a mistake in leaving Feldman in for that last hitter. He was spent. That mistake did not cost us the game, but Hinch learned something, especially with half of the bullpen being rested.
    *Jose Altuve was just missing the middle of the ball in the first two weeks. He is seeing it now. He was hurting after the game ended. You could see he wasn’t his usual jovial self. That base runner nailed him hard.
    *Fields was throwing smoke tonight. I think he might be healthy.
    *Carlos Correa is on fire. So is his team. They smacked Frisco twice tonight, scoring 26 runs and Jandel Gustave lost Chris Devenski’s no-hitter in the last inning and then lost the shutout. Final of game two 16-1. Final of game one was 10-5
    *Fresno with a big lead tonight and Tucker with homer #6. That’s a final, 7-0, Fresno over Reno. Brady Rodgers with a terrific start tonight for Fresno.


  20. About the first part of the season, I watched portions of each teams games this year. One thing that stuck out was the attitude of the KC Royals. From the opening game, it looked like they were playing game 8 of the World Series. It is always interesting when you see the other team “looking” into the Royals dugout. I believe some of the bench clearings was caused by that. In contrast to years past, the attitude in the Astros dugout has changed. And I doubt that will set well with those “supposed to win” teams if this winning continues. Not saying they will play dirty, but they may. We had better be prepared for some “chin music” and “hard slides.”


    • I like the way the Astros are handling themselves, though. Springer’s exclamation point home run yesterday did not include anything that might cause some hard feelings. No bat flip, slow trot or any gestures toward his dugout. He hit a bomb and then acted like someone who was not trying to rub it in.
      Lowrie got hit and didn’t say or do anything.
      Altuve got flipped and nobody did anything silly.
      The Astros have had a lot of strikeouts this season, but have not been whiners about it to the umps.
      The team is certainly acting like mature baseball players.


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