Astros 2018: The week in review, the week ahead

The week of 9-10 through 9-16 in review

The Astros lead was a tenuous 2.5 games over the A’s heading into this big week. The Astros swept the Detroit Tigers on the road and came back from a first game loss to win a three-game series with the Arizona D’Backs.  The Astros in reversing a season-long trend took four of their five wins on the week by one-run margins. The A’s split the week 3-3 and the Astros finished Sunday with a 4.5 game lead over Oakland and now face the next week with a magic number to clinch the division of 9.

The week of 9-17 through 9-23 in a preview

The Astros finish their home schedule with six games against division rivals, three against the Mariners and three against the Angels at Minute Maid Park.

The M’s had their first winning week in a month. After a four-game sweep of the Astros (at Minute Maid) the second week of August they were 4 games back of the Astros and only 1.5 games back of the A’s for a playoff spot. They have steadily sunk out of the pennant race since then, coming to town 12 games back in the AL West and 7.5 games back in the Wild Card race.

The Angels beat the Rangers 2 out of 3 to begin last week and then lost 3 of 4 to the Mariners through the weekend. It is hard to remember that the Angels were tied for the division lead in mid-May. They then fell behind by 10 games by late June and now start the new week 20.5 games back of the division-leading Astros.

Player of the Week: Justin Verlander

The Astros had a very hopeful week as both Jose Altuve and George Springer began hitting like the 2018 MVP and 2018 WS MVP that they are. But the player of the week was Justin Verlander. JV struggled in August while he was working on earning his 200th career win. In September he has won all three of his starts including two this last week. For the week, Verlander was 2-0 in 14 innings with 9 hits, 3 runs, 21 Ks and 3 walks and looking a lot like the pitcher, who came to town last September and carved his way through all the teams he faced.

Stat focus: Home Sweet Home

After the Mariners completed their 4 game sweep of the Astros on August 12th, the Rockies followed that with a 5-1 beating of the good guys and Houston was an anemic 31-29 at home on the season. Since then the Astros with tremendous pressure on them to outrun the streaking A’s have put up a beyond solid 10-4 record in their last 14 home games. During those 14 games, the Astros have scored 79 runs (5.6 runs/game) which is much more in line with what has been expected from them this season. They will need to keep that home field play going as they race to and through the playoffs.

Pop Song That Should Have Been a Hit – “Three Roses” by America

Back in  1971, I was a freshman in high school and was just loving this new Neil Young song on the radio. However, that Neil Young song turned out to be “A Horse with No Name” from the debut album of the pop/rock group America. The group consisted of three US military brats who ironically formed their trio in the UK. The debut album also included the hit “I Need You.” One of the hidden gems on the album was the song “Three Roses”, on which the boys sounded a lot more like Crosby, Stills and Nash than Neil Young with lovely harmonies and even a Stephen Stills-ish guitar solo towards the end. The song never was released as a single, though at least one unpaid critic believes it should have been.

Anyways, back to baseball. By the end of this coming week, there is a chance the Astros will have wrapped up the division, a chance the A’s have closed the gap or a chance the Astros will have set the table to clinch in the last week of the season. What do you think the next week will bring?

Advertisement

129 comments on “Astros 2018: The week in review, the week ahead

  1. As always, with the Astros, when I look forward I look for the series win. So I look for them to take two out of three from the Mariners and the Angels. That asks a lot from a team that doesn’t play well at home, but a playoff team has to win every series.
    As to “Three Roses”, I found it a little boring, but I am a “Sister Golden Hair” guy, so I’m not a fair judge.
    Verlander was a great pick for the week. He has meant so much to this team all year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree on grinding out series wins is the key, old pro. Sorry that my musical tastes don’t match yours, but hey that is the way it goes….everyone is different.

      Like

  2. I’m not sure what the underdogs were drinking yesterday but:
    Toronto beat the Yankees.
    Tampa Bay beat Oakland
    Detroit beat Cleveland.
    Miami beat Philly.
    Washington beat Atlanta.
    Pirates beat the Brewers.
    Cincy beat the Cubs.

    Like

  3. Possible point of discussion….
    Marlins manager Don Mattingly was complaining about the September expansion of rosters to 40, which he says (and he is right) changes the way the game is played as there can be lots of pinch hitting, pinch running, pitching changes, etc.
    What do you think? Maybe 25 guys are declared eligible for any one game and the rest are inactive – this is how the NBA does it.

    Like

    • It doesn’t change the way the game is played, because, for years, players have been added to the rosters in September. This is crap by Mattingly, an old-fashioned manager in a crappy baseball town with a crappy team, a crappy reputation, a crappy owner and no fans.
      Mattingly has always pictured himself as a baseball purist and this is pure dookie!
      I consider this an another attack on minor league players by major league baseball and I hope the minor league players end up with the last laugh.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Nothing Mattingly said was wrong. The GM for the Phillies basically agreed with him and said it’s a topic they discuss every winter. Ultimately, it’s unfair to some team for any other team to not be trying to win every game they play. As long as they’re trying to win, however, I don’t see an issue with it. Crowds are down in September already because of school and football. Let the teams get more guys out there and start building up some excitement for the next season even if they’re already eliminated from this postseason.

      Like

  4. This is the week we need to put the M’s out to pasture and the A’s to bed. Time for Correa to do Correa type things. Get ’em when the getting ‘s good. As for America I always liked “California Revisited”.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m hopeful that this week will leave us on the cusp of clinching the division. In the great marathon that is the MLB season we are going to end the season with three starters who will have pitched 200 innings and another one with close to 175. Is there any other team that comes close? The answer is a resounding NO so we need to give big props to our starting staff and the FO who assembled them. The starting pitching for every other team in the West has been mediocre at best (Seattle) and pathetic at worst (Texas). Our rotation has to be viewed as the primary reason we are where we are despite the inconsistent offense and maddeningly poor performance at home. I’ll be a lot more optimistic if we win Friday night. In the three games we have played at home after an off day in the middle of a homestand we are 0-3 while being outscored by a whopping 20-3. Time to put that jinx to bed.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I like the tradition of Sept call ups and hope they leave it alone. If the players do agree to limiting the number of players eligible for Sept games the wording of the agreement will be key. What would stop some team from deactivating 3 starting pitchers and 2 over used relievers for each game?

    As for this weeks music pick: I was born in 1971 but I did see America perform a free July 4th concert on Ft Lewis around 1991. A great change of pace from popular “music” of that time.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I like the call-ups also – maybe they could make it a 30 man roster for a 5 day range of days.
      I’ve seen America twice in concert:
      First time when dating my wife to be at the Summit with Michael Martin Murphy who was just Michael Murphy at the time.
      Second time for free at Riverfest in Little Rock sometime in the 1980’s – out on the banks of the Arkansas River

      Like

  7. -Framber is pitching tonight. Can he deliver a knockout punch?
    -Miles Straw is slated for the AFL, but needed to be protected by the Astros. Can’t wait to see him run the bases. Maybe he can teach other Astros how to do that.
    -So, Kyle Tucker will mostly watch. I hope he watches Bregman.
    -Something tells me the Mariners won’t go quietly.
    -Every game is super important and until they are not, Cionel and Deetz may not see much action.
    -“Go ahead and drive to Houston from Fresno” is something the Astros have never said. “Go ahead and drive in from Round Rock” would be something they would say all the time.
    -I bought and installed an old timey screen door for the house this week. With the spring on it I get the same slams I remember as a kid. And I know when somebody has left the house. Now I’m headed to the hardware store for a latch to lock it and a 1×4 to put across to keep from putting little hands through the screen. Bye

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1OP..I used to remember every time we went out the screen door it always seemed to slam with that “sound” you were talking about. As we were leaving I recall my mother, grandfather, or other adult member of the household saying, “Stop slamming the screen door, you’re going to break it!” Oh, how sometimes I wish I could relive those days. Does anybody remember the Twilight Zone episode where the adults became kids again? The episode was named, “Kick the Can”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • As Springsteen sang “Screen door slams and Mary’s dressed waiting…..”

        I miss that sound….

        Zanuda – we have been rewatching the Twilight Zone episodes from start to finish including “Kick the Can” – takes me back

        Like

  8. I remember the America album and being amazed by the guitar work of Peek and Bunnell on Three Roses. Awesome album and awesome song. Hard to believe the original album release did not include A Horse With No Name. It was only added on the 1972 re- release as a bonus track. The rest is history.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We should see more series wins this upcoming wk. The hitting elixir George drank to alleviate the toxic affects of Gomezitis has sufficiently healed to make him rake like the pro I know he can be. He must continue to sip this healing balm and quit being selfish by not passing some to CC and a few others. However, I fear it may have little effect on Old Man River McCann as Father Time continually leaks bat speed & drains him of the ability to be useful offensively.
    The offense is peaking at just the right time & combined with stellar pitching, a steady BP, makes our guys a very dangerous tm to reckon with. The only way this tm derails is they do so themselves.
    Our crying, as we stand accused, only reflected the frustration of seeing a far superior tm stumble over their own two feet. Right now I’m feelin nothing but good vibes emulating from the hearts of our champs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Something else we do pretty well is play defense, especially in the infield when we have Bregman, Correa, Altuve and Gurriel in place. When we put Marisnick, Springer and Reddick in the outfield with Maldonado behind the plate we have an almost impenetrable defensive team. That may account for a lot of the pitching success.

    Another set of unsung heroes may be the training and conditioning staffs. You can’t help it if a guy breaks something but I think some overuse injuries are avoidable. Think of how every year our opponents’ pitching staffs are decimated by injury. Look no farther than our division to see how injury has impaired every other starting pitching staff. Of course we had our share of injury problems last year but had the depth to overcome them. I hope the health forecast remains good.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. You guys knew how Hinch has used the bullpen lately. My fear is he’s going to ride Presley like he did Devo last year. That’s the price you pay when the middle of Sept comes around. Those guys NEED some time to rest, but their not gonna get it, unfortunately. Raise your hand if you thought we were gonna win 1-0.
    They didn’t lose or gain on the A’s, tonight…pretend this game never happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hinch tried to get cute putting Sipp in against the righties which caused him to burn Pressly which started the dominos falling. I was begging for him to pull Rondon who was lucky (Jake) not to be trailing before he gave up the slam.

    Like

    • I think Blummer & TK were wondering the same thing about bringing in Sipp instead of Pressley. Basically Hinch screwed up IMO. Of course if it had worked Hinch would be a genius but as I would say that he got lucky if that had been the case.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Both the hitting and managerial elixirs got left behind in the clubhouse tonight, the bats were ice cold and plate discipline was nonexistent, the coach had a mild case of dementia.

    Like

  14. Not that anyone cares how this is determined, but Sports Info Solutions show that the Diamondbacks have the most defensive runs saved at 35, followed by A’s at 33. The Astros have only 8 for the season even with all the extensive shifts employed.

    Like

    • I don’t know much about that stuff either but since the Astros are into the analytics of the shift, maybe they’ll look at those numbers and think differently. On the other hand, probably not.
      I’m still so PO’d over Rondon being left in the game when he absolutely had nothing. That is on Hinch big time. Yes, the offense was downright “offensive”, but the bullpen was mismanaged last night big time. Hinch takes Sipp out after he puts two on base but leaves Rondon in after the M’s are hitting him hard and he’s loaded the bases.
      We’ll, I guess we can try again tonight.

      Like

  15. It was just one game, but it encompasses our concerns in one game:
    – Hitting can just disappear over night and the inability of a right-centric hitting team to hit light tossing lefties is baffling.
    – Starting pitching that does not go deep into the game – OK Framber will not be pitching in the playoffs, but even our better pitchers have been struggling to get deep against the better teams.
    – What to do in the late innings against lefty hitters….The best pitchers over the last few years out of the pen against lefties have been Sipp (2014,2015 and this year), Harris and Devenski. There is a good chance that none or one of them will be on the playoff roster. The Astros got outmaneuvered last night and it could easily happen again in the playoffs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel your pain. I don’t necessarily think they are inept but because they have all there eggs in the proverbial analytical basket there’s a lot of them that are showing cracks. Other than that management has the occasional brain fart that wrecks havoc with what would appear to be common sense. Give the case of gattis instead of Tyler White, bringing in Sipp to pitch to the right handers, using Pressley to get out of the jam, and then not removing Rondon when it was obvious to everyone that he didn’t have it last night.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right.. inept is a bit overkill because I truly believe Hinch could be a top line manager if given free reign.
        His managing of the playoffs last year was remarkable.

        Like

    • I find the fact that 4 won’t return kind of bizarre. The Astros have one of the best track records of winning and pushing young players through the ranks to the majors in all of baseball. Player development has been exceptional.

      It’s kind of starting to look like anyone who predated Lunhow has a target on their back. Scouts last year and managers/ coaches this year. I still wish they had kept Jose Cruz!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I understand all the accolades that others want to heap on our team. I just hope they play up to that potential. All the other playoff teams will be “headhunting” for us. And yes, the second article really doesn’t say a lot does it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The bottom line is that this is a very good team but they are not perfect. In last nights game we saw the bats go cold, base running blunders, rally killing GIDP, poor plate discipline and a couple of bases loaded one out opportunities squandered.

    But what really bothered me last night was leaving Rondon in (in a one run game) when it was readily apparent (from the first batter on) that he did not have it last night. I just can’t find any argument to justify leaving him in to load the bases then leaving him in to unload them. You have a bench full of arms to use. I’d rather see us lose by using a call- up than leave Rondon out to dry like they did.

    Bottom line, despite all of our mistakes, we still would have been in a position to win with better bullpen management.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Dan, in the article you linked (the first one) there is another link to an article about MMP.

    https://www.mlb.com/astros/news/minute-maid-park-plays-like-a-pitchers-park/c-281955408

    I have always argued that MMP is a great park for an average hitting team and a poor park for a very good hitting team. There’s just no place for balls to fall. More often than not hard hit line drives that would be hits end up in one of the gloves of a tightly bunched outfield.

    I honestly can’t stand the park with its bandbox corner fences, especially after pulling in the CF fence by over 30′. In fact, it is probably my least favorite park in baseball strictly from a playing field perspective. I wish there was some way to create some space in the outfield, but property dimensions just don’t allow it without giving up seats.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s