Perspective tough as Astros stumble down the stretch

It is easy to either panic or get depressed while watching the Houston Astros stumble a bit down the stretch of an unexpected playoff contending season. The obvious holes in the lineup expand to Grand Canyon size under the heat of a pennant race. The manager who has pulled elephants out of his hat, much less rabbits is being second guessed for every lineup change and every player day off given. When the bullpen loses one it is considered a choke not a loss.

But for perspective look at where this team has been the last few seasons on this date.

Season

Record on Sept. 11 Games Back on Sept. 11

2014

65-81

27

2013

50-96 34.5

2012

45-97

40.5

2011 49-97

36

2010 67-75

14

2009

69-72 14.5
2008 80-67

8.5

Basically the fans and the team have not had a season where the last 3+ weeks mattered since the 2008 season, when the Astros were 3 games out of the Wild Card on this date. Unfortunately, a Hurricane named Ike and a $%^&* Commissioner named Bud sent the Astros the next day to “neutral” site Milwaukee to play the Cubs the and another hurricane named Carlos Zambrano no-hit the team and for all intents and purposes killed the Astros pennant drive.

So, be happy for the following:

  • The Astros as they enter the most crucial week of their season are 76-64 and 2.5 games up in the AL West.
  • Odds are they have the most likely AL Cy Young Award Winner in Dallas Keuchel, the AL Rookie of the Year in Carlos Correa and the AL Manager of the Year in A.J. Hinch.
  • Roughned Odor does not play for the Astros.
  • Josh Hamilton will not be playing for the Rangers down the stretch.
  • Jason Castro and his defense and pitcher handling should return soon.
  • The Astros have minor league talent at all levels bubbling towards the top.

What are you happy or thankful for relative to the Astros entering the final stretch of the season?

91 comments on “Perspective tough as Astros stumble down the stretch

  1. I’m happy that the Astros brought Carlos C. up to stay, plus the two pitchers and Tucker. I’m happy for the improvement in our relief pitching. I’m glad that Lowrie (sp) and Springer are back and will help with these last weeks and look forward to Castro returning. His absence has certainly made me realize his value to the team.

    I’m happy that the Astros didn’t trade AJ Reed at the deadline. He can’t take over 1st base fast enough for me.

    I’m really happy with our draft this year, especially with our first five picks. Unlike the last two years when we passed over Bryant for Appel and Aaron Nola for the high school kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Overall this has been a wonderful season but it is such a RADICAL departure from what we have had recently and what we truly expected this year that I think it has knocked folks for a loop. Baseball is such a marathon but we want to look at each game like it is a sprint and that is all that matters. I actually have to grade management pretty favorably on how they are managing the long term growth of the team. They have certainly failed with the first base fiasco but with the emergence of Marwin even that doesn’t have to be a sore spot. Sending McCullers down for a period of rest and tutelage means that the loss of Feldman is not the catastrophe it could have been and our starting rotation is still the best in the division. Our defense is also top rated. If those two aspects of the game stay strong I do think we will hang on and win the division. The Rangers and Angels have lots of frayed edges too. This next leg of the journey over the next seven days especially will really be interesting. I think I could even live with going 3 and 4 but if we could go 4 and 3 I feel like everyone will breathe easier. If we go 5 and 2 or better then someone needs to order the champagne.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with this DB14. We will find out the mettle of our team in the next few days. If they “win” the division, they may do all right in the playoffs. If they “back in”, it probably will not bode well.

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  3. I’m happy that I can watch every game on Root Sports that has a great picture, but repetitive announcers.
    I am happy they are winning more than they are losing for the year.
    I am so happy to be able to watch Correa.
    I am happy they hired Hinch, happier they hired Strom.
    I am happy that I don’t have to look at Josh Hamilton, not because of his play, but because I cannot stand him.
    I am happy because Tyler Heineman and Tyler White are a year older and healthy.
    I am happy they have Carlos Gomez, even though he is weird.

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    • Yeah oldpro…..Josh Hamilton gets no sympathy from me. The problems he’s had throughout his career are all self imposed.
      I’ve always been taught to forgive, and I will forgive him for choosing drugs. But NOT for choosing drugs over his wife and children.

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  4. I’m thankful that these young men have stayed healthy this year. This is one resilient team! For every small ingury, there has been another guy to take up the slack! I stay amazed at the kids who came up and made a difference immediately!! I’m thankful for A.J Hinch, who has guided this club through this crazy year! But most of all I’m thankful that i live in the most AWESOME country in the world, that allows me to take part on the BEST blog on our planet!! And for all the “friends” I’ve met on this blog. We have no faces, but we try to imagine what one another might look like and I’ve already made up my mind that all of you are going to be my friends for a long, long time! Today is especially hard for me, being a flight attendant on 9-11 was tough, but we made it through just like the rest of this great country….Baseball took my brain away from fear and it still does today. I’m thankful for every single one of you who share that love with me. ♡♡

    Liked by 3 people

    • I meant to mention 9/11Becky. That is a day that we humbly honor every year at our house. My wife was born in NY and lived in Jersey until 1970. Her uncle worked in the Twin Towers for many years, was there when it got attacked the first time but luckily had retired by 9/11. One of her childhood friends worked for Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor and was never found.
      I feel so bad for your fellow flight attendants who are gone forever.
      God bless them all.

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  5. I’m Grateful that I have a great wife, great kids, great dogs, a great life, .30 years of being a die hard Astro fan and you all to laugh , cry, and smoke Colorado Cigars with (-:

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  6. Tonight is a good example of a playoff team. Lets hope the Astros make the game in Arlington completely unimportant. If the Astros win – they get closer to the end with the 2.5 game lead. We should not expect the A’s to win the division for us. It is in the hands of the Astros if they want to take it.

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  7. Rangers won……..
    I agree 100% astrocolt45. Said it yesterday they have to want it so bad they can taste it. The only people in your way, is you!!

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  8. A rare Keuchel error has led to 3 unearned runs and you get that sinking feeling the game is over. By the way, the lead over the Twins will reduce to 2 1/2 to miss the playoffs altogether.

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  9. Fresno losing. Appel fell apart after big Singleton error. Three relievers got bombed.
    Corpus Christi losing big after starter and three relievers got bombed.
    Lancaster losing big after starter and three relievers got bombed.

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  10. Keuchel fell on *his* own sword tonight…..errors can kill your pitcher. I don’t usually second guess Hinch but why is Valbuena at DH instead of Tucker??? AND…….
    Conger has done NOTHING tonight. In front of or behind the plate.

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  11. Yeah, I think we lost this one.

    Oh, and Conger 0-2 with 2Ks. He’s not alone in struggling with the bat tonight, but the guy is our bad luck charm for a reason.

    FREE STASSI.

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    • Yeah, but Gomez made the adjustment on a 76 mph pitch and hit it hard. Nobody else has adjusted. Lowrie looks like he’s never seen Weaver before.

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  12. Too little too late. I told you I hate days off, ESPECIALLY when they had won the last game they played. Beginning to look like their last long road trip ((sigh)).

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  13. So they got one good swing at a pitcher with an 84 mph fastball, a 76 mph change up and a 68 mph curve. And he threw over 100 pitches and they could not hit him.
    Absolutely pitiful.
    And our ace beats himself with wild pitches and walks and an error.
    Embarrassing!

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  14. Castro is working his way back….not to say that he’s hitting any better than Conger but at least he can cut down the running game.BUT…Marwin did a good job of cutting that runner down at the plate who was trying to score tonight!! Saying a prayer for the youngster tomorrow. McCullers go get ’em!!

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  15. Friday was such a tough day for so many Americans. We can’t all share the intimacies of what was experienced on that stunningly beautiful Tuesday morning in New York. It’s too hard. On that day so many good souls, beyond the almost 3.000 lost, suffered pain that we just can’t repair and loss we can’t ever replace.

    But, we are the most resilient of people.

    Today we do carry on and talk of baseball games and pennant races! I think about whiffle ball against the garage door, and bunt baseball in the back yard where a shot off the house was in play, but a broken window an automatic three outs, immediately followed by a run for cover. Later, a chagrined but bemused father once again using a shirt cardboard to “temporarily” repair our damage. And then there were the numerous versions of stickball out front on the street. We always had the makings of two teams, with a pretty deep bench, right there in the neighborhood. There was no time spent inside the house during daylight hours. Only dinner got us home. Quickly. What a wonderful world!

    And so we carry on. For the life of me though, I still can’t figure out why Valbeauna was our DH in favor of Preston Tucker.

    A good point; how many more innings can Keuchel give us?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mr. Bill made a post after the lone victory on this road trip somewhat warning us not to take this victory too seriously as we faced a struggling pitcher. Let’s face it, this team can’t win on the road and now that Texas is embarking on a 10-game homestand with 4 games against our road weary Astros we have to come to the realization that not only is the division title not going to happen, but they may miss the playoffs completely. The Twins have more home games than road games remaining and they play well at home. Yes, it will still be a successful season as the Astros will finish around 85 wins, but it will be disappointing to get this close and not make it, especially after all the years of suffering from the fan base.

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  17. The Astros have not had a 3+ game winning streak where at least 1 of the wins was on the road since July. That 1 victory was at K.C. and was the last victory of a 5-game winning streak (the 4 previous wins were, not surprisingly, at home). They get one lone victory on the road against the worst team in the A.L. and we all start to believe the march to the division title is here. Then we face a pitcher who can’t throw over 85 and he shuts us down. Now we face 2 LH pitchers who have done well against us and the late season collapse is underway. I understand we are still ahead of schedule, but to get this close to the finish line and not complete the task and then have to wait out the entire offseason is going to be tough to handle. There is no other way to describe it except disheartening.

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  18. Can’t give up folks. I know that except for the fact that they still hold a very tenuous lead that all seems stacked against them. But this team has surprised us over and over this season. I don’t see them giving up and I won’t give up until there are not enough games left for them to win it.
    I know logic is against this but this is an affair of the heart.
    Daveb I loved your reminiscence of baseball and youth. I wore out the garage door throwing a tennis ball against it and pretending that I was Roger Metzger scooping up the rebound. Great days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am going to continue watching and holding out hope, but I guess I have just become so jaded from the past 5 miserable years. As I said before, I could live with this September collapse if meant any team besides the stinking Rangers winning the division. Living in Round Rock and surrounded by Rangers fans makes this so tough to bear.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. We need these guys to reach deep inside and pull out some wins….BIG time. It’s not too late but it will be soon. I want Luhnow to send Matt Duffy, or Tyler White up for the next few weeks, because it’s pretty evident we have NO first baseman, and apparently no one can play small ball. I’ve heard Luhnow say he didn’t want to “muddy” the water by bringing up a lot of minor league guys……well guess what, I think at this point you can’t get much more muddy than this debacle at first base is now.
    Just another warm body won’t do, we need a guy whose played first base regularly and no that doesn’t include Singleton. Matt Duffy has earned the call up, and he can (and does) play both 3rd and 1st…..get on the phone Jeff.

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    • First, the Astros and JL have done a much better job to date in 2015 than I expected. But with 20 + games to go, they may still end up slightly above .500 ball. If I were going to fault the FO it would be one two (2) fronts. 1. There was no reason to sign Presley and Singleton, nor any reason to extend long term contracts to Grossman & Matty D (if that rumor is true). 2. There is no reason to get excited about the minors when excellent production there does not merit a promotion. That was true with Springer and Correa and continues with others. Most teams put their best players on the field. I have no idea what set of stats the Geeks use, but it is not “small ball” nor advancing the runner nor anything to do with scoring runs except HRs. It looks great when it happens but is hard to sustain over an entire season.

      A couple of days back a question was who would be the Goat in September. It might be the FO with their stubbornness. Nothing makes a rally better than a HR. But when you K – 6.38 times for every HR – nothing kills a rally like those Ks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not going to fault him for Presley or Singleton. It worked out well with Altuve so I don’t blame Luhnow for trying to lock up young players to below market contracts. If you recall the MLBPA and several agents were disappointed that Singleton signed, what was deemed, a below market contract. Regarding Presley, it was just a 1 year contract for $1M. At the time we weren’t expecting to contend this year and by signing him to that contract it essentially gave the Astros minor league options with him because Presley would have had to forfeit the contract if he declined the option to the minors after clearing waivers. It gave the Astros some depth and, let’s be honest, $1M in baseball is a pittance.

        Where I will fault Luhnow is being stubborn in addressing the black hole at 1B. I understand his point about the 40-man roster issue coming up this offseason, but the Astros are in a pennant race and they have a glaring offensive weakness at 1B. If you can’t trade for an upgrade then he should have brought someone up from the minors. If the Astros miss the playoffs this year Luhnow will have to take the majority of blame with his player personnel decisions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Let me be clear that, despite feeling Luhnow should take the majority of blame if the Astros miss the playoffs, I still think he has done a decent job as the G.M. during his tenure here. There is a chance 8 organizational teams, including the Houston Astros, will qualify for the postseason in their respective league. I don’t think that has ever been accomplished before in baseball. He has a proven track record of success in the draft and player development. His trades have not been great, but it is still early to call them a failure (well, except the Conger trade. There is no way this turns out as a win for the Astros). In no way do I want Luhnow gone. Look how long it took the K.C. Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates to finally qualify for the playoffs after years of mediocrity. The Astros are on the right path to becoming a consistent winner and Luhnow is the architect behind this sudden resurgence.

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      • Tim, again, you and I disagree on those contracts. He committed a 40 man spot to Singleton without him earning it (in my opinion). Although he was not terrible in AAA ball, such comments by sports writers that he “destroyed” AAA pitching is way over the top (again expressing an opinion). So JL has been unable to address the black hole due to other decisions that he made and continues to hold onto. And lets not forget my original sentence. He gets all sorts of “clapping and way to goes” for what has been accomplished this year and probably for years to come. Surely he knows there are 4-7 players on the 40 man that will not be here next year (insert a short prayer). Only a stubborn person keeps them blocking some that he needs in 2016 and can use in late 2015. The rest of your notes are spot on.

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      • Pretty sure Singleton was on the 40 man before he got the contract. If they had tried to get him off at any valid point (could not do anything during suspension) he would have been claimed. 2015 was a lost year due to the Gattis trade for Singleton…simple as that.

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      • Devin, I believe Singleton was added the previous December to the 40 man. And the following year (similar to Springer) he was offered a long term contract if he wanted out of the minors. I realize Tim, that Singleton is still only 23 and he may not clear waivers, but he is due $6 million plus options. I realize that $6 probably buys only one year for a decent FA, but I would expose him to waivers. All of that be said, he is not my first choice to be placed on waivers.

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    • Good point! A win by the Astros tonight and the Angels are right back to 5.5 games out. That is something the Astros can control.
      A loss by the Rangers is something we can’t control. But at worst we would still have a 1.5 game lead over them.
      This team is in first place and the race will be decided by the Astros wins or losses.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Daveb: you asked a very important question when you wonder how more innings can we expect out of Dallas Keuchel. He’s already waded into uncharted water, because he has passed the 200 inning limit he stopped at.last year……so we don’t know. You bring up a concern for Hinch for sure! The rest of the rotation is in the same boat as Keuchel is. Dang…..just another wrench in the problem.

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  21. man i can’t hardly stomach all the doom and gloom in here. and what have y’all done to tim??? usually one of the more optimistic in here now leading ‘the sky is falling’ brigade. the team is in FIRST place with the 3RD BEST RECORD in the league with 21 games to go. get a grip, think positive. as op stated above the astros control their fate. lets give them some positive vibes and cut out the defeatist BS.

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  22. I understand totally folks being frustrated about things. The FO could have easily filled the biggest hole somehow and did not do it.

    I just hope they can overcome everything and win this darn thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is exactly how I feel. I want the Astros to make the playoffs more than anything. I am a fan of all Houston teams, but I live and die with the Astros. Baseball has always been my favorite sport and the Astros have been my favorite team since I was 11 (I was a Mets fan as a young boy growing up in Upstate NY, but moved to Houston as I was turning 11). Making the playoffs this year would be vindication for 3 years of losing 100+ and the rebuild job. The future looks bright, but there are no guarantees. They are so close now I would hate to see this season unravel in the final 20 games.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. This is hard. Not the first time we’ve been down this road. For me, 80, 81, 86, 97, 98, 99, 01, 04, 05, 08, I’m going on memory ( and mine ain’t that good anymore) so I may have forgotten 1or2.
    But this one is the toughest. I don’t know why, but it’s tough.

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  24. Conger behind the plate again tonight. Look for the Angels to have a heyday running on Mccullars because they know Conger can’t throw them out. Yay. Interesting article in the Dallas paper about that very thing. The Rangers are licking their chops that Castro won’t be back so they can, and WILL run on Conger. The piece also goes in depth about that little crap odor, and how he loves getting under the Astros skin. The Rangers get to face that rookie pitcher the Astros hit so many home runs off last week, so I guess you can tell how that’s going to work out for the A’s tonight. We, however get one of the toughest lefty’s in the Angels rotation. I’ll say another prayer for our home town nine tonight. Hope Mccullars brings his A game tonight!!

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      • Sandy….they aren’t laughing they are GIDDY just thinking of how many runs they can score off our pitchers and Conger, who can’t block the plate, or throw out ANYONE trying to steal. It is what it is.

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    • It can work both ways. It’s generally accepted a stolen base success rate needs to be over 80% to justify the risk. It’s more difficult to do when the opponent knows it is coming. Houston has a few days to mentally prepare – work on long holds and step offs, and prepare a strategy for when to pitch out and when to emphasize some slide steps or quick pitches. As a base stealer, you normally run on the pitcher. Anything he does to make you uncomfortable is more of a determinant than the catcher.

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  25. Last night was 2015 in microcosm. We out-homered the opposition. But they beat us with situational hitting. We drew two walks – but were unable to capitalize on either of them. Oh, yeah – and Jose Altuve got two hits but got caught stealing and so scored zero runs.

    Like

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