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Friday countdown: After 159 games, the end is in sight


It is an odd feeling Thursday leading into a final Friday of the season as Astros’ fans are forced to pull for the North Texas Rangers. This is about as satisfying as kissing your sister or pulling for the Yankees, Cowboys or Bill Gates.  The Rangers are up 4-2 in the seventh and the Astros may get to start this weekend with a one game lead over the Angels for the 2nd wild card spot.

There are many analogies to be made with  the length of a baseball season. Normally, the word “marathon” comes to mind. If this were a marathon, the Astros would be that unknown runner who got out in front of the pack early running at a pace that he or she could not sustain. The last few miles of the race, the runner has been struggling more than running and feeling the heat as the pack has caught up with them. Will the Astros/runner collapse within sight of the finish line or will they gut it out and hold on for the playoffs?

It is a bit reminiscent of the classic underdog movie, “Rocky”. Rocky, like the Astros did not belong in contention. Rocky was given a shot at the title when the challenger broke his hand and seemingly had no business vying for the title. The Astros had an improbable early season 10 game winning streak and stayed in contention mainly due to the fact that no one was playing very well in their division. You can almost picture opposing managers echoing Apollo Creed’s trainer when talking about the Astros, “They don’t know it’s a damn show. They think it’s a damn fight.”

Yes, Rocky fell short in that title shot, giving all he had and perhaps the Astros will do that too. Or perhaps they will do like Rocky did and win it on a second chance. After 159 rip-roaring games, the end is in sight, but the view is a bit blurry.

A few questions heading into the final three games of the season:

  • Will Chris Carter continue to be the surprising offensive force that he has shown since practically disappearing from the lineup? (Last 14 days, 6 HR, 8 RBI, .381 BA and 1.744 OPS)
  • Will the Three Amigos — Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers Jr. — lead the team to a wild card spot?
  • Will Hank Conger see the field again this season? Pat Neshek?
  • Who will be an unlikely hero for the Astros this weekend – Jason Castro, Colby Rasmus, Carter, Luis Valbuena, other?
  • Will the day off help a tired bullpen pull it together?
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About Dan P

Dan Peschong is a full time engineer and a long time Astros lover from the days of Joe Morgan to the days of Jose Altuve.

63 comments on “Friday countdown: After 159 games, the end is in sight

  1. astrocolt45
    October 2, 2015

    This year’s Astros reminds me of the Tour de France back when Lance did not use drugs. You knew the guy(s) out front would be caught at the finish line. But they could still finish 3rd or 4th but not win. But they got a lot of TV time. And the next day, they were at the back of the Peloton.

    Like

  2. Dan P
    October 2, 2015

    Thinking a little more about this, the Astros hitters are a bit like Rocky, swinging from the heels and more likely to miss than hit….
    And obviously, the Angels did lose last night so the Astros do have a 1 game lead on the Twins and the Angels. There are so many scenarios now, ranging from the highly unlikely Astros tying the Rangers for the division to the Astros or Angels or Twins winning the Wild card to a one game play-in game if teams are tied for the Wild Card.
    A one game play-in means Kazmir would be starting that game on Monday, which means there might not be a wild card game with the Yanks on Tuesday…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • sandy
      October 2, 2015

      I’d rather see Straily start a tie breaker. I’ve lost faith in Kazmir.

      Like

      • drbill14
        October 2, 2015

        With the off day Fiers has had his full rest. Much prefer him over Kazmir or Straily.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Steven
      October 2, 2015

      Yes, but eventually Rocky did hit, and when he ran into some he won a championship…..

      Like

  3. 1oldpro
    October 2, 2015

    *As far as question #1, Chris Carter has been paid $4.1 million dollars this season to suck for five months while the team carried him, and then when the ship is sinking and everyone else is getting in the lifeboats, he shows up with a mop and a bucket
    *Those three pitchers have, along with Gregerson and Altuve, been the foundation of the building this season so if anyone is going to carry us, it will be those guys.
    *If Conger sees the field it will be because the team needs someone to come in and really control the game or to be a designated stud behind the plate.
    * Feliz and Velasquez are well rested in the bullpen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan P
      October 2, 2015

      I think Jeff Luhnow is wrong to say that the fans were wrong about Carter and first base (over the first 90% of the season). That said – he has hit a crucial home run in each of the Astros last 4 wins this season and they would not have won all 4 of those games without his help.

      Liked by 2 people

      • 1oldpro
        October 2, 2015

        And there have probably been dozens of times this season where the Astros might have won a game if Chris Carter had delivered a single or a fly ball or a grounder, and he struck out instead.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Devin_
        October 2, 2015

        Two years ago I was Carter’s biggest critic. This year, the pendulum swung so far on him that I became one of his biggest supporters…and I don’t feel like I’ve changed my stance on him much.

        Here are my thoughts on him:
        – much better with runners on base, but fewer HR
        – does not chase outside zone much (despite what knucklehead analysts say)
        – much better at DH
        – historically better away from MMP, but not this year
        – salary outrageous compared to mine, bargain compared to many MLB contracts

        Like

      • Steven
        October 2, 2015

        Dozens is probably over stating it, but he has probably made us 5 games worse in the loss column trying to continue to trot big slow out there.

        Like

      • Steven
        October 2, 2015

        Devin – he doesn’t chase out of the zone much because he doesn’t swing much. His chase rate out of the zone is 25%, so it isn’t bad. The major league average this year is 31%.

        The thing that got him is the Zswing. He only makes contact 72% of the time he swings at pitches in the strike zone. The major league average is 87%. He only makes contact 44% of the time he swings out of the zone, you might be thankful for that since the major league average is 65%, but some of those become hits too even if they are the “pitchers pitch.” Bottom line, the guy doesn’t do well with contact. He doesn’t swing as much out of the zone because I would argue that he just doesn’t swing enough.

        His motor is too slow. It could be the wiring in the head, it could be getting a little out of shape and the swing slowing down, it could just be that he is playing the walk game too hard and not being aggressive enough. It could also be that he just simply isn’t a very good hitter. It really doesn’t matter how big a guy is, how strong a guy is, if he can’t tell a ball from a strike out of the hand, and he is guessing more often than better hitters, or not swinging because he can’t tell, it will eventually show.

        Like

  4. 1oldpro
    October 2, 2015

    The guy who could be the most unlikely hero for the Astros this weekend could be Delino DeShields, Jr.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kevin
    October 2, 2015

    I think the team need to just keep it simple if we can score 5 runs every game we will sweep the series. So does Gattis get an at bat?

    Like

  6. Becky⚾
    October 2, 2015

    Watched the game with my sister and family last night. You have NO IDEA how much I hated rooting for them……even if it did mean our survival!! I had to watch what I said, but I didn’t mince words about how much I despise od-or. I think my brother in law wanted to smack me, but I can run faster than he can!!! Good luck tonight Mr. Keuchel get that 20th game in your back pocket!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin
      October 2, 2015

      I know I was watching it on line, it was hard. I had to convince myself not to take large quantities of drugs and alcohol (-;

      Liked by 1 person

    • sandy
      October 2, 2015

      You are a strong lady. I don’t believe I could handle that.

      Like

  7. astrocolt45
    October 2, 2015

    I am not going to beat up JL nor Carter, but scroll down to each month, or look at the bottom splits. If this is the guy you want playing 1st, so be it.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/splits/_/id/29486/chris-carter

    Liked by 1 person

  8. drbill14
    October 2, 2015

    With Arizona throwing RHP in the first two games will Carter even be in the lineup? I think he should, especially with Lowrie banged up and Valbuena likely to play third and Marwin still having some trouble hitting left handed. I like Gattis on the bench and Rasmus, Gomez and Springer in the outfield. I’m looking for Gomez to be a big factor but it is time for Altuve to step up. If he gets to 200 hits this weekend it would be huge for him but even better for the team. Conger plays the last day of the season if the game is meaningless one way or the other. Arizona has a good running game so Castro needs to be there as long as we are in contention. Harris, Sipp, Fields and Gregerson need to carry the load. If we’re up by ten or more then give Neshek an inning but keep a short leash on him.

    Like

    • Devin_
      October 2, 2015

      At 194 hits, he is tied with Boegarts for AL lead and trails Dee Gordon by 4 for MLB lead. It sure would be nice to watch him pass Gordon with a huge three games at ARI.

      Like

  9. Tim
    October 2, 2015

    I don’t see the Angels or Twins sweeping their last 3 games. Thus, going 2-1 against AZ with our top 3 SPs scheduled should get the Astros into the playoffs. I still feel so much better if we win tonight. It takes away much of the pressure. If Keuchel goes out and shuts down the DBacks and the Astros win it may get him the Cy Young.

    Like

  10. daveb
    October 2, 2015

    I convinced myself back at the beginning of the month not to have any expectations of this club for the remainder of 2015. As a result, my stomach has not been the mess it typically would be by now, and I know I’ve had less rum to drink. Maybe a correlation there?

    I think Carter will continue to hit this weekend, if they pitch to him. But I sure hope it remains a parting gift to us. I don’t want to see him on our roster in 2016.

    I expect Keuchel, McHugh and McCullers to all pitch well this weekend, but they can’t win on their own. We need well played games, no bad base running and other mental errors. And we need hits. I think they will come.

    Unfortunately, I think we’ll see more of Hank Conger behind the plate. And he’s bound to impact a game somehow. I still can’t fathom why he gets put back there. But again, no expectations, one way or the other.

    I think our weekend hero(s) will be Carter or our young guys. Our future!

    And the pen will be lifted up by VV and Feliz. Our future!

    Like

  11. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    Has the starting lineup been posted anywhere yet?

    Like

  12. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    Yeah, I can’t find it again though.
    From memory:
    Altuve
    Springer
    Correa
    Rasmus
    Valbuna
    Carter
    Tucker
    Keuchel

    Like

  13. astrocolt45
    October 2, 2015

    BC:
    https://twitter.com/evandrellich

    It shows up there.

    Like

  14. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    I left Castro out. He’s batting 8th ( I think) after Tucker.

    Like

  15. daveb
    October 2, 2015

    Ending the season with an inter league series is stupid.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tim
      October 2, 2015

      Unfortunately, someone has to do it. I am guessing when MLB made the schedule they felt safe assuming this Astros/DBacks series wouldn’t matter. Man, were they wrong!

      Liked by 2 people

  16. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    The DH needs to be implemented in the NL or deleted from the AL. Playing out the season in a different league during a pennant race IS stupid.

    Like

    • Devin_
      October 2, 2015

      I loaded that link, saw Nolan Ryan pitching, and thought…yeah, that would be cool if we could bring him out of the bullpen.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Zanuda
      October 2, 2015

      In other words, if we win all three we’re in. Sounds like we control our own destiny. Don’t need to rely on any body else.

      Like

  17. rj
    October 2, 2015

    i would love for us to get in beat the yanks (spit) in the one game and travel to KC to pay back those $#&)@&(#^& for some hit batsmen and run them out of the playoffs.

    Like

  18. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    Good lineup

    Like

    • sandy
      October 2, 2015

      You think? I really would like to see what Tucker could do batting cleanup.

      Like

      • Billy Castillo
        October 2, 2015

        Probably should’ve flipped Tucker with Valbuena, but no real complaints here.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Roger
    October 2, 2015

    I see us getting to the wild card, with Tucker playing a role. I am guessing the bullpen will be somewhat better—as for Carter—I’m not sure, but I think he will contribute a bit. However, I suspect it will be someone else, maybe someone not mentioned, who will provide a major, unexpected, positive surprise.

    Like

  20. daveb
    October 2, 2015

    Too bad we don’t have a guy behind the plate who can throw like that guy on the Angels. He just threw out that spark plug, what’s his name on the Rangers.

    Like

  21. astrocolt45
    October 2, 2015

    If you are on a computer, it looks like “Free Game of the Day” is everyone of them tonight.

    Like

  22. daveb
    October 2, 2015

    All the way down here, got Rangers on ESPN, Astros on the computer.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    Bases loaded, Keuchel strikes out. I’m officially converted. AL baseball for me.

    Like

  24. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    I see Carter has 2 RBIs already…where was this guy all season?

    Like

  25. daveb
    October 2, 2015

    If we get 6 from Keuchel tonight, we should be happy.

    Like

  26. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    Colby smashed that one…

    Like

    • Devin_
      October 2, 2015

      Yeah…ball really carries in this park. Valbuena to the same spot too.

      Like

  27. 1oldpro
    October 2, 2015

    Astros lookin’ pretty good tonight.
    I just got back from my first high school football game in 48 years. There were 62 points scored in the first 15 minutes. That 15 minutes lasted 1.5 hours. We left. My granddaughters have a homecoming memory with Grampa. Thank goodness for the little cold front making the kids freeze, or we might have been there all night.
    Go Astros. Peter O’Brien has incredible power.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Zanuda
    October 2, 2015

    Keuchel is not looking too sharp tonight. Can’t find the strike zone. If he can get by the 6th then he needs to sit.

    Like

  29. Zanuda
    October 2, 2015

    Forgot to mention the bats are going crazy. Some monster HR’s and other solid hits. Great play by Tucker/Correa/Castro to get Goldsmith in the 3rd.

    Like

  30. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    Boys are doing alright without their DH😜

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Becky⚾
    October 2, 2015

    Rangers did us no favors tonight….but Dallas Keuchel is DA MAN!!!

    Like

    • Devin_
      October 2, 2015

      I know Becky, but it’s so satisfying watching Fielder and Odor go hitless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Becky⚾
        October 2, 2015

        Agree 100%!!!!!

        Like

  32. Tim
    October 2, 2015

    I was more nervous about the Twins as they are playing at home. I feel fairly confident the Rangers will beat the Angels tomorrow. That loss pretty much does it for the Twins, assuming the Astros don’t blow this 11-2 lead.

    Like

  33. Tim
    October 2, 2015

    This might be a good spot to get Neshek some work. Ok, don’t shoot me for that statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Becky⚾
    October 2, 2015

    DANG….. when was the last time our guys put up 17 runs before the 7th inning!!!
    Makes me sooo happy for Keuchel…..

    Like

  35. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    I just got off a very rough call, so missed the whole outburst…I needed that good news!

    Like

  36. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    LOL oh wow…just saw that play…you know things are going bad for the DBacks if that easy out turned into that

    Like

  37. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    Wish we could put a few of these runs in the freezer in case we need some leftovers tomorrow or Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Becky⚾
      October 2, 2015

      I know right!!! 22-2 !!!

      Like

  38. Billy Castillo
    October 2, 2015

    Holy balls this is awesome

    Like

  39. sandy
    October 2, 2015

    Duffy looks good at third.

    Like

  40. Zanuda
    October 3, 2015

    Great game. Calling it a night. We’re in a flash flood watch and my buddy Noah is coming over to help me build a boat. Hoping for good things tomorrow and Sunday.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on October 2, 2015 by in Astros.
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