Remember way back when all was despair. Dark thoughts encircled our minds and made our shoulders slump from the weight of the gloom and doom. Yeah, way back on Monday morning, three games ago after the Astros had lost five of six games and were having their great starting pitching undone, by scarce and non-clutch hitting and the return of the playoff exploding bullpen.
But that was so long ago and our perspective has changed big time, thanks to our favorite Crash Test Dummy opponent, the Oakland A’s. They have been good medicine for what ails the Astros for quite awhile. Heading into this week’s series the Astros had gone 27-14 since the beginning of 2016 against their West Coast rivals. And after a fun three-game sweep, the Astros are now 30-14 in that same time period.
Here are various thoughts as the team comes home to meet their best friends forever, the South Denton Rangers…..
- Heading into the 2017 season, one of the keys was having the Astros two best pitchers, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers back healthy and performing well. So far in 2018, it can be argued that Keuchel and McCullers have been the weak links of this rotation. Folks, if Lance McCullers, who has a 2.15 ERA outside of one very bad inning and Keuchel, who has a 2.86 ERA if you ignore one of his eight starts, are your weak links, your chain is strong.
- The last two games against the A’s brought some comfort and positive flashbacks as the Astros came from behind twice and more importantly held on to those leads. This late game dominance was the base of their great 2017 season.
- As was discussed in the previous post’s comments, Max Stassi has been a welcome addition as he came out of today’s game hitting .273 BA / .355 OBP/ .864 OPS. Two of his three homers this year have been huge. Back in April his 3 run homer broke open a 0-0 deadlock in the 5th inning against San Diego and drove them to a 4-1 win. On Wednesday his solo HR in the 7th inning evened the score at 1-1 and opened the hitting gates on the way to another 4-1 win.
- We are a couple months out, but how does manager A.J. Hinch handle filling out the All Star team roster, especially the pitchers if his team continues on the path they are following. Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton are in the top 6 in ERA in the AL, Cole and Verlander are tops in WHIP and Ks, etc.
- Is it the cool spring weather or did they take the Superball out of the center of the baseball? It just feels like offense is lagging this season. Actually… in the AL the runs/game are almost identical to last season 4.67 vs. 4.63 r/gm. Ks are up about 0.4 per game, but overall it is a bit of an optical illusion with the couple no hitters and near misses the last few weeks.
- After Wednesday’s game the Astros were on pace for a 99+ win season. The team’s 24-15 record is 3 games behind last year’s record at this point when they were 27-12. Of course last year they already had an 8 game lead over the 2nd place Rangers (19-20) while this season they are only 1/2 game up on the hot shot Angels.
- Can the Houston Rockets follow the lead of the Astros and win it all plus have the MVP?
- The most bizarre thing may be the fact that George Springer now has a 5 hit and a 6 hit game and Jose Altuve has never gone beyond a 4 hit game, which he has reached an amazing 26 times…..
What are your thoughts at this juncture about your favorite team?
Bill, would love to share a few drops with you.
Late in the game, we saw why Derek Fisher, though talented, fast, and poweful, is not ready for prime time. That at bat was ATROCIOUS. He showed zero plate discipline, and total inability to recognize and lay off a low breaking ball.
Time to throw the Fish back into the pond to grow some more – and give the more mature, much more disciplined, version of Kemp-ing it another try.
Oh but Fisher hit a home run the other day, Gattis had the only hit last night and Marisnick didn’t strike out. Hey these guys are just about to break out and get their batting average close to the Mendoza line. Why would we ever want to replace them now with guys that are hitting .300 plus in the minors?
And as to Springer getting hit, Hamels was constantly bringing the ball inside to many of the hitters. That was intentional. When you keep pitching that way you’re going to hit batters. Personally, I think he had an “oh well if I hit him” attitude.
People might have forgotten that Hamels had already hit Springer with a pitch in George’s first at bat. The ball actually grazed the knob of the bat and then grazed George’s hand. The ump called it a foul ball and the AB continued. Hamels got the deed done in George’s next AB.
This was no accident.
But all of it worked. There was no retaliation from the Astros. They got Springer out of the game, got Marisnick leading off and got the Astros to flail at breaking pitches all night.
The Astros are happy and content. They settle.
Oh and for those who want fresh meat – the new post is up!