Astros 2018: The most dangerous stretch of games

After their 5-2 loss to the Mariners on Friday night the Astros hold a tenuous four and a half game lead over the Oakland A’s and only six games over the M’s. The next 16 games could well be the key stretch for this Astros’ teams attempt to repeat as champs of all of baseball in 2018.

The next 16 games include 11 against the A’s and M’s, the Astros’ closest competitors. This includes five games against the M’s (two at home and three on the road) and six against the A’s (three at home and three on the road).  They had a chance to bury the M’s, who were trailing by eight games coming into their four-game set at Minute Maid Park and stumbling badly. But the M’s won the first two games of the series and the best the Astros can hope for is getting back to that eight-game gap by the end of games Sunday.

The Astros are at a critical point as a team. They did get Carlos Correa back on Friday, but they may have lost red-hot Jake Marisnick to a groin injury in the same game. They are also missing two key cogs to the offense in Jose Altuve and George Springer, plus leader Brian McCann, starter Lance McCullers Jr. and late-inning, high leverage reliever Chris Devenski. On top of that Altuve, who was expected to miss minimal time has yet to attempt to run on his injured knee.

The Astros are ripe for the picking in their matchups with their division rivals, who both could catch them with a quick burst while the home team is down.

Not all is gloom and doom with the Astros. Even with a bunch of folks on the DL, they have shown a lot of resiliency in going 6-2 on their recent road trip. But there is almost too much pressure on the pitchers, both starters and bullpen to hold the line at zero in so many of these games.

It would seem to be critical for the Astros to go 6-5 or 5-6 at least against their division rivals and then pick up some wins against the Rockies (2 games) and Angels (3 games) during this tough stretch. If the team could find another gear, they could pull away from both teams in the next fortnight, but holding on for dear life may be the best that can be expected.

97 comments on “Astros 2018: The most dangerous stretch of games

  1. We didn’t feel sorry for the Angels when they lost 13 or so starters/pitchers. So no one will be feeling sorry for the Astros. Just buckle up and play the best you can, no matter who is available each day.

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    • Yes. They are not the 2017 Astros. They really do settle. They do not have each other’s backs. They have players who are hurt and they lie about it and that is a distraction to the team. They concentrate on things other than baseball. They absolutely hate the hitting background at their own park and other teams now know it. Teams see weakness and stomp the Astros when they smell the blood.

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  2. They are actually playing bad period.
    They got lucky in San Fran.
    Granted, having the heart of the lineup on the DL is really hurting but putting the best players in the best position everyday is their only hope.

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  3. Kyle Tucker is back up. No word how long Marisnick will be out. If these guys lose tonight, with Wade LaBlanc pitching, they have no excuses. They just beat him last week without Correa. See the ball, hit the ball.

    Liked by 2 people

    • i saw where they put him on the 10 DL. i expect tucker to have a better time of it this trip. he’s been there, done that (well except the hitting part) and should be more comfortable in general. all this may be a blessing in disquise towards the end of august. when everybody thats injured get back (and they will eventually) with the play of kemp and (fingers crossed white) and hopefully now tucker, thats a deep deep team with the expanded roster.

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  4. Didn’t Wade LaBlanc pitch out of our bullpen when we were still in the NL??
    I remember him as a pretty bad reliever, and the Astros cut him. Anybody remember him?

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    • I think more of a morale booster than anything. You could probably hear a pin drop during last nights game. The fans deserve better. It’s a shame how badly the hitting has let us down this year. We knew that there might be a regression but this is ridiculous. You can see the anxiety all around. We need for something good to happen. Don’t want to think of the alternatives.

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  5. The hitting has let us down this year? Ridiculous? The fans deserve better? This has been a very tough stretch of baseball with half the starting line up being on the DL. We’ve still got a heck of a record. We’re still in first place. And if we manage to remain in first place until we get all our guys back, that will be a heck of an accomplishment in of itself. These guys are not machines. You don’t just turn on a switch on and go out and hit. Zanuda, you make it sound as if the Astros are the World Chumps rather than World Champs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Astros are injured. Really injured. But two nights ago, Marwin running 1/2 way to second on a stolen base, and last night Fisher running 1/2 way to third without knowing where the ball was hit, are extremely poor baseball decisions. When you are down 3-4 of your stars, you just have to play really smart baseball. That is my one and only issue.

      It is not time to panic, but concern has to creep in at some point. Just because we get everyone healthy does not guarantee a 5 game winning streak. Still in first, but I am not sure if the FO has been straight with us on these injuries. They appear to last a lot longer than 10 days and all we get is someone is sitting out the home stand or road trip or both.

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      • To get to 3 Million fans, the Astros have to average just short of 38,000 for the rest of their home games. Possible but very difficult with school starting and football upon us.

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      • Good baseball teams hold the line in times like these. Great ones excel during adversity. We are doing neither. I’ve probably watched 90-95% of the Astros games this year but I’ve decided not to watch today. Maybe that will break this losing streak. Sorry if I seem like a party-pooper but that’s just my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. At home this morning, happened to turn on TCM and it’s about Grover Cleveland Alexander (Ronald Reagan; Doris Day, his wife). It’s about how what was happening to him was totally misunderstood. My faith tells me the Astros are being tested, up and down the line, including manager, GM, president and owner. You go up that high (or you go down low), you gonna be tested. In the movie, it’s easy to see how quick fans are to get down on players and to assume they know what’s going on. Human nature being what it is, we’re the first to raise up heroes, and the first to tear them down. It just reflects our own aspirations, frustrations and inability to be what we want to be. I’m stating the obvious here, so for that, forgive me.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Daveb – it is natural for some folks to be a bit down on them as they are playing poorly
    Zanuda – It is only natural for some folks to stay up on them because of what they have seen from this team over the last season and 3/4
    Neither side is really right or wrong – there are reasons to be down and up about these guys.

    For me – I hate some of the bad play especially the bad baserunning, but I feel like there are a lot of guys forcing things because they feel they need to. I hope they can not only get guys back, but they get them back in time to get their timing and “games” back.
    Heck if I could make it thru 2011 to 2014 – I think I should be able to make it thru this bump in the road.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan, not to belittle your point but in those days we stunk and we all knew we stunk, and didn’t expect a lot. This team, organization is better than what we’ve been seeing and I expect a little more. The last two games the M’s scored the bulk of their runs by stringing together 3 or 4 hits. Even in the 1st game they put up crooked numbers in 3 innings. Other than that our pitching was good. It befuddles me that we can not seem to do the same. They are doing to us what we did to others last year. Yes we have injuries, but we had injuries last year and we played good baseball, so what’s changed?

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      • To me what has changed is that the majority of the injuries were on the starting pitching where we had more depth to make up for it – like Peacock
        For everydays I don’t think we have as much depth to overcome losing our top bats and I think it shows in the field too

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  8. Today’s lineup

    Kemp CF
    Bregman 3B
    Correa SS
    Gattis DH
    Gonzalez 2B
    Reddick RF
    White 1B
    Tucker LF
    Maldonado C

    With our best pitcher (lately) Keuchel on the mound.

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  9. I kind of agree with all of you. I watched or listened to all those games in the dark days so I try to remind myself how bad it was then when they were losing a hundred games a year and most of us couldn’t even watch because our providers didn’t carry them.
    I tune in everyday but sometimes I can’t get through the whole game. I feel horrible for the fans that pay huge amounts of money to support this team and get disappointed day after day.
    This team is loaded with talent but even when they were all healthy something was a little off. Now that they are falling like flies it’s beginning to be glaring.
    The pitching was spectacular but now they are starting to panic and trying to throw a shutout every night.
    Smart base running and situational hitting don’t exist and trying to lift the ball over the fences usually end up as outs.
    Again, these are our backup players but was it a lot different when everyone was healthy?
    I think there is a little something missing in all aspects. Maybe Hinch needs to be a bit tougher and some outside help with hitting. Shaking up the lineup possibly.
    But what ever happens they are and will always be my team.

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    • Sandy, for me personally, I watched baseball intermittently for probably a decade. I really got into watching the rebuild. But during that time, even though I watched most games, I fully expected a loss. Now I am spoiled. I expect a win in every game. Knowing that is not possible, I expect some strikeouts (but not on a called 3rd strike – dead center of the plate). I expect some fielding errors but not dumb base running. 3-4 years ago, I expected to see that but no longer do I want it.

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  10. Yes – it matters whether we have backups or not.
    April – 4th in runs scored in the AL
    May – 3rd in runs scored (and basically 2nd in runs / game)
    June – tied for first in runs scored
    July – 12th in runs scored
    August 8th in runs scored

    July and August is when they’ve been the most handicapped with offensive injuries and that is when it has hit home. No, they are not an offensive machine like 2017 even when all were well, but too many guys had unsustainable career years (led by MarGo and Reddick).
    If they can return to top 3 in runs scored in September – they will be in pretty darned good shape.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Astros are *N O T* fooling anyone right now. Boy those shifts sure are working today aren’t they. Oh, by the way don’t look for Marisnick to be back before September……and that’s probably the same for Altuve.
    We having fun yet?!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Mixed bag on the injury front:
    – Marisnick will be out multiple weeks whatever that means – to me it means after rosters expand
    – Altuve did not test out his knee as expected and his rehab is set back again
    – Both Devo and McCann are likely to go out next week on minor league rehab

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    • I have an issue with the medical staff of the club now. Too many soft tissue injuries. Regarding Altuve and Correa, since their rehabs were setback, then Crane should seriously be looking at the medical staff. These are million dollar players and they must have the best care possible. Altuve should have had a scope done on his knee to clear it up. Otherwise, rest should have cleared up the issue.

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  13. Win, lose or draw, complaints aside, we all love this tm. With our regular lineup intact this tm won more series than they lost despite being offenseively challenged. Heck even the top of the lineup had some glaring weaknesses that made us cringe sometimes, but watching backups struggle makes for some very frustrating baseball. Like the tm we have to suck it up, lol. One area I would like to see scraped is this aggressive baserunning push that is more akin to the reality show ‘America’s Dumbest Criminals’. Our culprits make so many errs on the base paths that sometimes defy logic. I can live with opportunistic attempts making outs, but ours most often do not compute. Give the batter a chance to hit and quit running into senseless outs.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This reminds of that time when Yu Darvish had a no hitter going and Marwin broke it up in the 9th. Well today it would be the same if he hadn’t gotten his one hit already 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hey Dave, nephew is hitting his way onto the roster, can smell that DH designation being applied sooner rather than later if it hasn’t been done already

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  16. I feel ya Sandy, thank goodness have At Bat to stream other games while peeking at the Astros, tough to watch us blow opportunities.

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  17. This team does *N O T* deserve to win. You load the bases with no out and you get NOTHING???????? If I’m a starting pitcher on this team, I’m looking at my position players with utter contempt. I’m sorry,but I can’t….I just can’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My opinion. No. I want them to win, but if they don’t win, at least compete.

      I hate 9 pitches/strikes in the 10th, and no contact. Everyone in the park knew Diaz was going to challenge. To win, the team has to respond. You can have a reputation of hitting fastballs, but when you can’t, it will become an “L” instead of a “W”.

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  18. The M’s are laughing at us and the A’s are licking their chops. I hope there is a changed in direction with 6 weeks left but I’m not liking what I’ve been seeing lately. And I didn’t watch today but followed the blog. I think there needs to be some changes during the off season if we want to stay in contention for the next few years.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. 1.That’s why it’s hard to repeat
    2. I’t takes talent, a lot of luck, some great bounces, amazing leadership, and amazing health. We have had one this year Talent!
    3. I’m shocked with guys like JV , Morty, Cole, someone hasn’t stepped up to be the voice, the leader. Or have they?
    4. Now we may have chemistry karma issues, not sure we will win a playoff series this year if we get there?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I feel sorry for:
    Dallas Keuchel
    Justin Verlander
    Garrett Cole
    Charlie Morton
    And any other pitcher who has to be a starter for this team. ALL of you have pitched your butt off, and I appreciate the effort you have made. You deserved better.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Well that’s that. Moving on…..
    The M’s and A’s play each other the next three days. Someone has to lose. Hopefully neither one sweeps.
    All for naught though if we can’t get a break.

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  22. I remember as a kid, the Yankees were not playing well. Casey Stengel was asked about his team not in first place. He said, “Remember every time we win, we gain on 4 teams.” The reporter then asked what about a loss. He said, “I won’t discuss that.”

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  23. Relax and have heart. Baseball is a fickle game and momentum turns inside of a dime. The M’s come in on a losing streak. The Astros come in on a winning streak. The tables turn. Such is baseball.

    Baseball is also unforgiving of those who violate it’s rules. Some call it “karma”, some call it the “baseball gods”. Regardless, it is unforgiving.

    Baseball does not tolerate poor decision making on the base paths. When you run into outs at the wrong time you are punished. When you cross the line from aggressive to stupid you are punished.

    When you pinch hit the coldest hitter on the team for one of the hottest hitters on the team, baseball does not care which hand the pitcher throws with or from which side of the plate the batter hits from. You are punished. When you do it twice, you are punished twice. (Stassi/ Fisher pinch hit for Kemp/ White).

    When you step on the lines entering or exiting the field you are punished. (watch the tape of Marisnick coming onto the field the inning before his injury).

    When you fail to deliver a little “chin music” to protect your hitters you are punished.

    When you sit a hot hitter you are punished. When you sit a hot hitter for a slumping hitter you are punished twice and the hot hitter by nature assumes the slump of the cold hitter.

    The Astros just need to get back to adhering to the fundamental, unwritten rules of baseball. Go back to the basics and employ age old, sound decision making.

    Call me an old school, superstitious crony or whatever. I don’t make the rules; baseball does. I just report them as I see them.

    Liked by 4 people

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