Another Astros’ must win turns into another loss

Sometimes a team enters a game knowing it is a must win game. Sometimes a game becomes a must win while it is being played. The Astros 4-3 extra inning loss Monday night was one of the latter.

With the Astros 2 1/2 games back of the wild card entering the contest it was a nice to have game against the best team in the AL and the Astros’ nemesis. But after inning after inning of great bullpen work and the efforts of a wheezing offense to come back and tie it on Evan Gattis‘ dramatic ninth inning rip, the game became critical to win.

That it was not won rests more on a top of the lineup that went silent than on a run given up by James Hoyt in the 12th after 6 innings of one hit, shutout ball by his bullpen mates. George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa were a combined 0 for 18 with 3 walks to show for the night. And that as much as anything was the story of the game.

The team has 16 last bat wins including seven from the bat of Correa, but there were no final heroics on Monday. The Astros lost to the Rangers for the 14th time in 17 games. The Rangers won a one run game for what must be a world record of 32 times in 42 games. That is an amazing amount of wins and an amazing amount of one run games.

Previously, the Astros have played poorly and then came back to win a walk off game and moved on with energy and attitude. Will this latest kick in the (fill in your own anatomical part) throw them into the death spiral so many of us have expected?

Can the Astros beat the Rangers in the next two games?

Can their top of the lineup guys, particularly Springer, Altuve and Correa stop playing blindfolded piñata while at bat?

Will this constant pressure on the bullpen for perfection and a lot of innings finally cause it to implode?



143 comments on “Another Astros’ must win turns into another loss

  1. Considering Correa is playing hurt and not swinging like normal, if Altuve and Bregman are out any time (and Hinch thought they were not likely back Friday) this offense will be doubly challenged.
    Well at least they won a must win last night.


    • It was so interesting to have Bannister walk Correa to get to Gurriel last night. It’s pretty obvious that Correa is hurt and the Rangers ignored that and they paid for it. Correa has done no damage for the past 7 or 8 games and they passed up a chance to face him and not only did Gurriel hurt them , but Correa ended up scoring by doing the one thing he can do offensively, run the bases well. I think Correa’s run was the fifth and deciding run in the game.
      The move to put Kemp at 2B and then pull him after his error was interesting. I thought Hinch was the kind of manager to let a player redeem himself, but he got Kemp out of there.
      Sure was great to see Gurriel hit the open hole on the right side to beat the shift and knock in a run. It almost seems like he has a ton of good baseball still stored in his body that he has been waiting for years to let it out into the light.
      I can’t be surprised that Bregman and Altuve’s bodies broke late in this season. The effort that those two guys have put out has been amazing and they both obviously need rest.
      Who is going to step up and maybe be a hero in the next three games in Seattle?
      I believe Altuve is the team’s MVP because he has been amazing all year. But the second most valuable player on this team has to be Devenski. They would not be contending for a playoff spot without him. That Brett Myers trade took forever to reap rewards, but Devo’s guts and Luhnow’s instincts paid off for the Astros in 2016.
      I remember a few years back talking about a kid who threw a no-hitter for our Lexington Legends in their last game before we moved to Quad Cities the following year. That was when I would give nightly minor league reports to all of you at because the Astros were losing almost every night. That was Devenski and he started in Lancaster the following season and pitched terribly in a tandem for three months before he got demoted back to Quad Cities and became a full time starter trying to rebuild his career and started to turn things around.
      For the next couple of years all you ever heard about him was his fellow pitchers telling Jayne Hansen that they wish they could have Chris Devenski’s changeup.


  2. Late in the game last night, Marwin came up to hit with runners on and the Astros clinging to a slim lead.
    Brocail made a trip to the mound and I told Mrs. 1OP that he should be telling his pitcher to not give Marwin a fastball on the inside part of the plate and to throw him breaking stuff low because Marwin is a sucker for low breaking balls.
    Marwin whiffed on the first one as it broke under his bat and then resisted swinging at the second low slider. The pitcher wasted a fastball high and outside, but on pitch #4 he threw Marwin the one pitch he looks for constantly, a fastball in. Marwin got enough of it to beat the shift and drive in the runs.
    I looked at my wife and said that either the pitcher, or Lucroy or Brocail made a huge mistake. Just throw Marwin sliders that break down to the ankles. Somebody thought they could blow the fastball by him.


  3. Help Wanted: Take your pick of the following immediate openings in the Astros organization:

    1. Super Hero;
    2. Next man up;
    3. Chris Devenski Clone; [there are multiple openings for this position]
    4. Hitting Coach;
    5. Ace;
    6. True Lead-off batter;
    7. Anybody who can actually play this game – the one on the field, that is, not the one on the computer screen.


    • Here is my top 10, in no particular order:

      1. Hitting coach
      2. Hitting coach
      3. Hitting coach
      4. Baserunning coach
      5. Baserunning coach
      6. Baserunning coach
      7. Stretching coach
      8. Stretching coach
      9. Stretching coach
      10. A Genie with all three wishes left


  4. Astros 10- Point Improvement Plan:

    1. The lineup needs to be in ink not pencil. 25 men need to have a clearly defined role and understand that role. They need to know where they fit in and what is expected of them. They need to have consistency. They need to know that they have adequate leeway to succeed despite the fact that they may go through some slumps. They need to know that if they continually fail they will be removed and someone else will assume the clearly defined role that they once held.

    2. If you are invaluable to the team but have no clearly defined everyday role (see point 1) then you are a utility player. Now your role is clearly defined. We need to understand that a “utility player” is not “a person who plays every night in a different position”. He is a person that plays strategically to give everyday players the rest they need to be ready come September (see point 8).

    3. We need to hire an assistant to manage the Jumbo Sharpie and Big Chief tablet that consumes so much of Hinch’s attention in the dugout so that he can mix it up with the players, get out from behind the screen and manage “from the steps”.

    4. We need to better manage our pitching staff. When a pitcher does not have “IT” he needs to be pulled. There is nothing to be gained from having a pitcher stay on the field to get hammered by batter after batter. We don’t need to leave him out there until the game is lost and his ERA has ballooned. This fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3). I wonder how much lower our staff ERA would be if our manager had a quicker hook?

    5. We need to get better at strategically managing games. We need to know when to run, when to bunt, when to shift, when to pinch run, when to change pitchers and when to substitute in the field. These facts should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    6. We need to understand that an RBI double with a man on second (RISP) and 1 out is infinitely better than an RBI double with a man tagged out trying to advance to 3rd, leaving the bases empty and 2 outs. This should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    7. We need to understand that if you carry only 2 catchers, substitution rules dictate that the backup catcher CAN NOT be the DH. That fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    8. We need to understand that in today’s game players need a rest from time to time to stay at their highest level. The time to get rest starts in week 3 and extends through the middle-to-end of August. Come September key players should have had sufficient rest throughout the season to ensure they are ready to play at a high level every day down the stretch. This fact should be recorded for posterity on the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3).

    9. We need to understand that statistics are an extremely accurate indicator of what has happened in the past but a far less accurate predictor of what will happen in the present or the future.

    10. We need to understand that a lefty/ righty that hits .275 is probably a better option than a lefty/ righty that hits .200 regardless of which arm the pitcher is using and regardless of what the Big Chief Tablet (see point 3) says.


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