The Astros’ marathon begins, but what does it mean?
If a baseball season was a marathon, which it is, one game would be like running 850 feet. That is not nothing, and in fact for most of the seasoned folks on this blog that would be a nice little 280+ yard dash. But compared to the 6 month death march of a season the first few games barely move the needle towards October.
One of the joys of the first week of the season is writing about real happenings, rather than the mental imaginings that are ground through in the off-season. It is no longer speculation about who will be retained from the season before, who will be released, who will be protected, who will be traded, who will be signed as a free agent, or who will make the team in spring training.
However, the trap of early season musings is finding things to write about that won’t seem ridiculous. The moment one complains about the lack of hitting, the team busts loose. Praise the pitchers and they immediately lay an egg. And then there is the eternal problem of “jinxing” the home team by being overly optimistic about them.
But going back to a term invented here (talk about hyperbole), YIE – Yes It’s Early, but the first 3 days of the season went about as well as could be expected for the Astros.
- The biggest concern coming into the season was Dallas Keuchel‘s Cy Old performance in 2016. He was Cy Young brilliant in the 3-0 opener against the Mariners.
- The second biggest concern was having a healthy Lance McCullers Jr. to start the season after beginning and ending 2016 on the DL. He was barely a notch below Keuchel in a very strong showing in the Astros 2-1 “beat down” of the M’s.
- The third biggest concern was – who the heck is Charlie Morton and why did the Astros give all that money to a guy with a terrible career record and ERA. Boom – Charlie and his newly acquired fastball were one pitch short of brilliant to start off the Astros’ 13 inning walk-off 5-3 win on Wednesday.
- Chris Devenski looked shaky all spring and then turns in a no-hit, 7 K, 4 inning masterpiece to bridge the Astros towards that 13 inning win.
- Ken Giles was a mess last April, but already has two strong saves this season.
- The Astros are 3 games up on their supposed closest competitors in the division, the Rangers and the M’s after 3 games.
- Last season, the Astros did not win their first game where they scored only 2 runs until May 1st and they have already won 2 games where they only scored 2 runs in the first 9 innings. In fact in 2016 the Astros lost 11 of the first 12 games where they only scored 2 runs.
- The Astros won Wednesday, coming back in the 7th to tie it, having Brad Peacock get out of a bases loaded no out jam not of his making to give up only one run and getting 2 out, 2 strike heroics from Nori Aoki and especially George Springer on a walk-off dinger to set the clubhouse dancing.
- The Rangers were an unsustainable 36-11 in one run games in 2016 and are 0-1 to start the season.
- Sam Dyson the Rangers closer saved 53 out of 58 opportunities in 2016. He is 0 for 2 in 2017 as the Indians have rallied twice against him in winning the first 3 games of the season.
- The Astros burned a bunch of pitchers Wednesday night, but….Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles got the night off and Feliz, Peacock, Gustave and Sipp are all available for Thursday’s game.
- The Astros have done this with sporadic offensive contributions by most of the team. But there have been signs, especially in Wednesday’s game that the end of the lineup is no longer a black hole and is able to sustain innings and flip the lineup over to Springer who responded with all 5 RBIs.
So, YIE, but the team and the fans are all feeling good about themselves in the first series of the season.