Astros 2019: The home stretch


The Astros enter Monday’s off day with an 85-47 record and a 9.5 game lead in the AL West. They are tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL and they are trailing the L.A. Dodgers by one game for the best record in the majors. The team has held it together during a stretch where they have not had a true day off since August 8th. (Technically they had August 12th off due to a rainout, but that just caused additional use of their bullpen and disruption to their starting rotation with a double header tossed in there).

The Astros have some challenges as they are likely to not see premier set-up man Ryan Pressly until right before the playoffs should they be so fortunate to make them and are hoping to get a fully healthy Carlos Correa, Aledmys Diaz, and Josh James back in short order.

And speaking of so fortunate, the Astro do look very fortunate as they head into what looks like a fairly easy last thirty games of the season. Or perhaps this shows how tough their schedule was before this stretch. Here is what the Astros face (all records are as of Aug. 26th):

  • Tampa Bay Rays (76-56) – This is the only team on the Astros schedule where they have a losing record this season having lost three of the first four on the road to start the season. The Rays with fan favorite Charlie Morton have a lot to play for, but the Astros do get this 3 game series at home.
  • Oakland A’s (74-55) – The A’s recently set the Astros back winning 3 of 4 in Oakland. This four game series at Minute Maid could be the A’s last hurrah or the A’s long goodbye.
  • Milwaukee Brewers (67-63) – This is the Astros only series left on the road against a team that is above .500. The Brewers, who split a two game series at Houston earlier in the season are only 2 games back in the Wild Card race and could be a tough challenge for the Astros.
  • Texas Rangers (64-68) – The Astros play two games against the Rangers at home and based on their 11-6 record this season against the Arlington Nine they should be favored in both games.
  • Los Angeles Angels (63-70) – The Astros are 9-3 against the Halos this season and play four games on the road to end the season, but also have three games at home just prior to that (seven of last nine games of the season against LAA). The Astros just swept three from the Angels and it could be that the men from Anaheim will be looking at 2020 when they play again.
  • Seattle Mariners (56-75) – The M’s 56-75 record is bad enough, but even worse considering they are 43-73 since an unsustainable 13-2 start to the season. The Astros are 12-1 against the Mariners to date and have four home games and 2 road games in September with the team they have shellacked. These are trap games for the team if it loses it focus or easy it pickings if it doesn’t.
  • Toronto Blue Jays (53-80) – The Jays are in a bit of a youth movement at the moment and after a fairly catastrophic May and June have been competitive, but a little under .500 in July and August. The Astros took 2 of 3 at home earlier in the season from Toronto and look to do at least that much this time on the road.
  • Kansas City Royals (46-85) – The Royals fortunes have certainly dipped since their 2015 Championship. They are not in a rebuild but probably should be. However, they can still rise to the occasion at times – having taken 1 of 3 from the Indians and Red Sox the last times they have played them and having swept a 2 game series from the Braves late in July. Still after taking two of three from the Royals at MMP, the Astros should expect to at least match that at Kauffman Stadium.

Hopefully, the Astros are not looking forward any farther than tomorrow night’s game as they could get a little ahead of themselves. The bottom line is that the opportunity to have the best record in the AL and in MLB is there and if they grind it out they have a great shot at earning it.

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66 comments on “Astros 2019: The home stretch

  1. For all the injuries and baserunning insanity and double play proclivities and the occasional bullpen meltdown, the boys are right where most of us thought (hoped) they would be: among the best of all the teams in MLB. Stay focused, play smart and we’ll be in the playoffs with as good a chance as any team to win it all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This will be the toughest month of the year for Hinch to manage, even if he’s got the 25 guys he wants. He’s got to balance the importance of home field advantage against having any of his guys, especially the pitchers, gassed, as they enter October.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s the thing Dave. They have four days off in the month of September and then could have five days off before the playoffs.
      With their September of 13 home games and 12 road games and the ability to bring up good players from the minors to give regulars an extra game or two off, the Astros are not going to be gassed.
      The Astros have the ability to rest players and still have a good chance of winning because of how deep they are. The weaker schedule helps them still to finish with a great record without gassing their players.

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      • 1OP, good points. But guys like Miley concern me. Harris a bit. If it’s neck and neck with the Yankees, Osuna will be busy, even with the days off. I’m hoping Peacock gets in a groove, James can sharpen up and I really think Abraham could be a factor. Even if we run away from the A’s, every night in September will be important to us. I’m looking forward to it.

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      • Now I could set up a paypal account or gofundme account – but I have so many old coots on here …… including me …… that…..oh well you get the idea.
        It is actually comforting to know I can give folks free entertainment.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So, here’s a question out of ignorance. I know you get coupons from the (spit!!) when you get it for home delivery (Wed and Sun?) – but if you pay for on-line content do you get anything but a bill?

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    • The idea that a newspaper thinks they could charge for something readily available for free (and green/environmentally friendly!) in 2019 is ridiculous. Similar thinking has sunk numerous other companies. Their time will come.

      Doesn’t help that there are so many ads on the page that they bog down even a top of the line computer on an excellent server.

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      • I’ll put it like this…I’ve done tech support for almost 15 years now, and that site makes me want to grab tweezers and rip both hairs I still have on my head

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  3. The only two teams I’m concerned about are the Royals and the A’s.
    Those two teams will fowl pitch after pitch to run up the pitchers pitch count, and THAT’S how the bullpen gets hammered.
    I rarely find any real news on the Chronicle on line articles. I still take the paper, and I watch the Astros twitter feed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just set up a GoFundMe account for Chipalatta. The goal is $1.5 Million (also can be converted to 3 Yordan’s).

    It reads in part: “Please help our three triplets that are desperately poor in money but rich in spirit. Yes, there are some social and medical issues but we will not discuss them as it would violate HIPAA laws. As stated above in the previous comment, you can use coupons from the Sunday Spit in lieu of cash.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Tonight starts a four game series between Round Rock and San Antonio. These two teams have been fighting it out all season and they are separated by one game in the division. The division winner makes the playoffs and second place goes home.
    It’s nitty gritty time for our AAA team.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Guys I know I worried some of you all the other day. I’m sorry for how I was. I’ve been struggling with depression for a long time now; my health issues certainly haven’t been contributing. As the latter has gotten worse, so has the former. I ended up having a reaction to a new medication I was put on, to the point where it became very concerning for those close to me. I’ll leave it at that for now, but let’s just say I have a different perspective on things now.

    Again, I’m sorry for worrying you all. I’m good, and not going anywhere until it’s that time.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Dan & sargeh. You all are stuck with me, sorry to say! 🙂 I’m not going anywhere…I still haven’t been able to transfer out of Houston and to Fort Collins, CO so I still have plenty of work to do

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      • Absolutely, Dave. Problem is, the new medication I was put on for my seizures (Keppra) apparently doesn’t lead to good results for people who do suffer from depression. Didn’t know that before; I should’ve been more upfront with my new neurologist, bu I didn’t know it mattered

        Seem to have found one that worked…course insurance isn’t covering most of it

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  7. Yankees won and Dodgers lost. They are tied for the best record in baseball and the Astros are a half a game back in the win column.
    Round Rock beat San Antonio, 6-0, and have a two game lead with 7 games left in their regular season.

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  8. Today’s game may seem like the beginning of the home stretch, but Sunday’s game felt like that to me.
    Barria has been really good over the last couple of years against Houston and he was good again with fooling the ‘Stros with that changeup. To come out of that game with a big win against their bullpen seemed like the start of the home stretch for me.

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  9. Heyyyy Billy C. Glad to see ya back in the fold. Didn’t realize when I post the Stretch Run article it was from Chron. Hell, it was free to me that one time I suppose. I get more info here there I ever would anywhere else anyways so I’m here to stay until I’m not here anymore.

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  10. In answer to the post I think this would be a great time for the offense to show the SP & BP some run support love (not Stevie Wonder’s ‘Rocket Love’) bc ‘a half a mile from heaven she dropped him back down to this cold, cold world’, like the bats going cold in loses esp, (ala Verlander recently). With reinforcements coming soon let’s ligh’em up with the bats so the P staff don’t get gassed anymore than they have to while trying to secure that best record in AL & MLB.
    While missing either goal wouldn’t mean the end of the world, going into the playoffs strokin the ball for RUNS & some amazing pitching could go a long way towards winning another trophy. That’s my dream gang, to see both sides synced, opening at home each rd for the playoffs.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So let’s see….
    – Got home super late from work – had to wait a half hour for a bus – never have that problem. My wife was exhausted – a few weeks ago we were helping her new step mom move – today she helped her dad move into their home. So we walked down to Escalantes and had a great meal
    – So just sitting down to my favorite team knocking out one of favorite all time pitchers 6-0
    – Has Reddick been reading our comments? Finally starting to hit
    – Chirinos a big part of the end of lineup rallies
    – Diaz back – Straw down for 10 days until he can be recalled – which he will
    – Haven’t checked the A’s or the Yanks or the Dodgers – but I will

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  12. Yordan with an opposite field Crawford Box special! 9-0!! This reminds me of a line from Happy Gilmore. “Oh oh – Happy’s learned to putt” … “Oh oh Yordan has found out the Crawford Boxes are so much closer”
    A’s winning against the hapless Royals. Yanks and Dodgers warming up.

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  13. Ok…..what in the hell happened????? Umps have a God complex…..time to review how much power MLB gives them😠

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    • That was BS! If JV had continued to chirp at the Umpire then understandable but he made a comment, turned around and walked away and the ump tossed him.

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    • 1) JV was complaining about a ball that the ump called right – but I did not see earlier in the night
      2) No excuse for tossing a player who has his back turned and is 50 feet away and would be more than 60 feet away if Mr Rabbit Ears didn’t come way out into the field

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      • I saw an erratic ump calling balls and strikes. He was very inconsistent. So naturally a hitter or pitcher thinks if you called a location part of the strike zone, if would be the same next time. Both teams were complaining and for good reason.

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  14. Did anybody else know if that PP threw YA a grapefruit he was going to jack it?
    This kid could potentially hit 30 or more HR’s during the season.

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  15. In lieu of the tossing of JV last night and the controversy about the electronic strike zone I have a question/comment or two.
    1. We see the strike zone box but as I understand it the pitch is a strike if it crosses the plate at any point. So do they employ an overhead camera to determine if the pitch actually crossed the plate? I seem to remember that Greg Maddux’s pitches were sometimes 6 inches of the plate (when they had an overhead camera) and he still got the call.
    2. According to the definition of the strike zone “that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap” and is determined by “the batter’s stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball.” https://www.businessinsider.com/mlb-strike-zone-2014-9
    It’s interesting that you never hear the phrase, “Strike, up around the letters” anymore.
    3. Do we employ another camera/device to determine the K-zone from the side? Thus we have three angles to determine the zone, the “box”, overhead, and from the side. Maybe all of this has already been taken into account but then again, maybe not.
    Finally, by employing the electronic K-zone, who are the batters, pitchers and managers going to argue with over a perceived bad call; a cyborg or a computer? Not sure about the fun in that. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger will return as the umpire Terminator.
    I think JV just wanted the guy to be consistent behind the plate last night as he obviously wasn’t.

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  16. Some comments:
    * Yordan Alvarez seems to be Tyler White’s replacement on the team for getting shafted by umpires with balls being called strikes against them.
    * This morning the Astros lead both in striking out the most opposing batters and having our batters strike out the least in MLB.
    * The Astros are tied with Boston for the major league lead in team batting average, at .276. But, the Astros are doing it with a BABIP of .300(13th highest in MLB) while the Bosox are doing it with a BABIP of .319, making Boston one of the luckiest hitting teams in MLB.
    * Kent Emanuel threw 8 shutout innings for RR against San Antonio and his bullpen almost blew it, but RR held on for a 4-3 win and now leads their division by 3.0 games with 6 to play.
    * Alex Bregman had three of the weakest hits of the night, but also hit the hardest ball of the night when his foul ball cleared the top of the foul pole by a large margin a few feet on the wrong side.
    * There are two ways to make up ground in the race for the lowest team ERA in the AL. Score 15 runs against them and limit them to 1 run all in the same game.

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  17. The pitch that Verlander was arguing about was at least three inches outside in both the eye test and on MLB Gameday.
    However, the next pitch, that Pham drilled to right center, was the fifth 4-seam fastball that Verlander threw to Pham in that one plate appearance. It seems that Verlander should have thrown him a breaking ball there instead of doing what he always does: challenging a fastball hitter with a fastball and daring him to hit it.

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    • Well it was a 3-2 pitch – so a fastball is not unusual there. As I said before I was late to watching the game and did not see how the ump was calling it earlier, but want you want is consistency (the ump on Sunday as I recall was remarkably consistent) and if the guy is all over the place then he will get griped at and should spend his effort on growing thicker skin and calling better games and not on chasing players who are not in his face.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The devil’s advocate is the role I’m playing here, with the ump playing the part of the devil.
        Verlander said something three times to the ump in the middle of the play. Each time he said something he turned away and then turned back and said something else. He got thrown out the third time and admitted he had used some strong language.
        If I’m the ump and I hear it three times, when everybody knows you get thrown out for arguing balls and strikes, I’m tossing him.
        Why is Verlander openly challenging an ump in the middle of a play on balls and strikes when his team is up by 9 runs in the top of the sixth? Especially over a pitch that was obviously a ball.

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      • My understanding is that was not actually a major league ump behind the plate. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press had just watched Leslie Nielsen in the first Naked Gun movie and was inspired to assault and tie up the umpire before the game and took his place behind the plate.
        This understandably upset Justin and so it is totally understandable.

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      • I’m going to disagree on the call on the previous test. Maybe my eyes don’t see the same but it looked to me to cross the plate at a point that was a strike. Yes, when Chirnos caught the pitch it was outside the zone. That’s why I’d be in favor of an overhead camera. But I’ve replayed it (and used the old “stop motion detector” and it looks to be a strike. Just my opinion. I’m sure the inconsistency was the root cause of the frustration.

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      • Based on last nights scenario, I have no problem with the ump running Verlander. Hopefully he won’t get himself thrown out again until Spring Training.

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  18. Looking at Charlie Mortons stats before the game last night, it was hard to find anything that might have led to his performance against us. He’s had a career year after two career years as an Astro. But there has been a slight slip in his stats since the break. And he’s thrown a 165 innings now, with a month to go. The few times he’d get into trouble as an Astro usually started out with a momentary loss of command. A couple of walks would screw him up. Our guys did a good job last night in making him throw strikes. In the first, Altuve went down looking at a 3-2 pitch that could have been called either way. I was okay with that. A couple of walks changed the game ultimately.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Just speculating on my part, in the first inning I think Altuve missed the sign on him taking a close 3-2 pitch that caused Springer to be out by 20 feet going to second. So I think he made two bad decisions – one on the call and one on not protecting the runner. The pitch before the first home run of Yordan was never going to be a strike but in the umpire’s mind. Morton got into trouble by not getting hardly any marginal calls. That ran his pitch count up. Finally, I wish they would either take away the box on TV and on Game Day because it really magnifies the umps mistakes OR get it set up to electronically call the game. As to players/managers arguing with the electronic calls, we never see them argue with what looks like blown calls from NY on reviews. So I think that is a non-starter.

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      • I agree with you about taking the box away on TV. Before we had that we had a lot of variables to work into our view of balls and strikes. Now it’s right there for us to use technology to criticize, but not use technology to get it right.

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  19. Lol, me neither OP, I think they give two free views a month, the only way I’m able to see any of their articles. I’m not paying for that.

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  20. Does anybody else on this blog feel a little queasy when our heroes – and those we promote to our kids/grandkids – spew F-Bombs and filth like Verlander and Springer tend to do all the time? I don’t mean to be a prude – and I have come to expect filth from Hollywood, NY and LA media, and, of course, Twitter – but a little self-control and respect wouldn’t be too much to ask from people being paid millions to play a game in front of kids, would it?

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    • I don’t think it is prudish Mr. Bill, but I am afraid the cats out of the bag on that one. I don’t swear very often and it is usually for a really good reason, but I also don’t swear around young people. It doesn’t make me queasy, but I just think it is such an easy choice in language – it takes more effort to complain with higher level language.
      It is not too much too ask them to be respectful in front of the kids, but unfortunately I think it is too much to expect.

      Like

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