A real up and down weekend for the Astros

The Astros opened the mini-season this weekend with a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners that concludes Monday night. Friday and Saturday (with one exception) went about as well as anyone could ask. Sunday? Ah, Sunday bloody Sunday was not a good day for the team or their fans.

Friday and Saturday ended with almost matching 8-2 and 7-2 wins for the home team. The only drawback of the first two games was the groin injury that placed Aledmys Diaz on the IL. Pluses from the first two days included:

  • Two solid starting pitching performances by both Justin Verlander (6 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 7 Ks) and by Lance McCullers Jr.(6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 6 Ks). This was especially encouraging for McCullers who had not pitched in a real game since the ALCS against Boston in 2018.
  • Good to very good relief appearances, including three MLB debuts with Enoli Paredes, Cristian Javier, and Blake Taylor.
  • Plenty of offense as each of the 11 position players who appeared, scored or drove in a run during the 2 game span.
  •  Some solid offense from the bottom of the order, led by Martin Maldonado and his 4 hits and 4 RBIs. Maldonado, Diaz, Josh Reddick, Kyle Tucker and Abraham Toro combined for a .391 BA with 6 runs scored and 5 RBIs during Friday and Saturday’s games.
  • New manager Dusty Baker had a good couple of days as he was able to get the young pitcher’s feet wet and also got a good inning each out of Roberto Osuna, Chris Devenski and Cy Sneed with Devo and Cy both striking out the side in their appearances. Every button he pushed worked during this two-game stretch.

And then…..Sunday happened.

  • The most negative thing to happen on Sunday was the article from the Houston Chronicle (spit!!) that Justin Verlander would miss the rest of the season, followed by the announcement from the club and JV that the Chronicle was full of spit. Right now Verlander will rest for two weeks and then reevaluate his strained elbow. There has to be big concern at this point that the changes JV made to his delivery after his lat and groin injury/surgery in the Spring, led to the elbow strain. Whether that miraculously heals itself and does not recur or worsen….is an optimistic view at this point.
  • Zack Greinke, unlike Verlander and McCullers pitched like he was not ready for the season to begin. He pretty much said so after the game when he said he was lacking endurance, command and even stuff (fastball at 87 mph). This led to him getting pulled in the 4th inning and led to the next bullet point in this list.
  • Both Joe Biagini and Devenski brought their gas cans to the fire as Biagini let the M’s race away to a 4-1 lead and then Devo allowed the Mariners to flip a 5-4 Astros lead into a 7-5 M’s lead and 7-6 victory.
  • The offense scored 6 runs, which certainly should be adequate to win most games, but they did leave some meat on the bone, especially stranding Reddick after his leadoff triple in the 6th inning and with wrapping strikeouts by George Springer, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman around ninth-inning doubles by Kyle Tucker and Michael Brantley.
  • On a positive note, the youngsters bent but did not break out of the bullpen as Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor and Brandon Bailey (in his MLB debut) did what the veterans in the bullpen could not do and held the M’s scoreless in their combined 4 innings of work.

And it all may not matter. Additional bad news had 12 Miami Marlin players and 2 coaches test positive from COVID-19. This caused a cancellation of their game, but also the cancellation of a Phillies – Yankees game as the Phillies were exposed to the Marlins in their series. The domino effect of such a breakout could bring the season to its knees and to a halt.

There are more important things than a baseball season these days, but the distraction and entertainment it brought have been welcomed. Where it all goes now will be seen pretty soon.

63 comments on “A real up and down weekend for the Astros

  1. Yesterday was a stinker, but I went in looking for 3 out of 4. Our guys might score 15 tonight. Our big boys have not done much yet. And I’m going to watch, because who knows how much baseball remains to be played in 2020?

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW! Rodriguez has not been above Class A. (Fayetteville)! Bring it on young man! I like how Mr. Click is bringing the youngers up to show what they have. If they show well, then losing JV and Greinke later to free agency or whatever will not hurt at all AND!!!! the club will be able to possibly hold some of our key free agent bats and/or sign other bats in the future. Go James Click!

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  2. I hate to say it but I believe it’s inevitable that they will cancel the season eventually. Sooner or later everyone will be exposed to COVID and we’ll have to cancel ….. well you get the jest.

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  3. Today’s moves reflect the title of ups and downs.
    I might be spitting into the wind when I talk about Whitley, but if he does pitch for us this year it will be after the cutoff date to gain that extra year of control.

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  4. Rarely do we see Coach Strom show such obvious frustration. Our starter has thrown some really nice on the black pitches along with being really erratic. We don’t seem to be getting many of those on the black calls right now. Do the umps hate us too?

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  5. Bielak lets a couple guys on in his 3rd inning but doesn’t give up a run – not sure why they sent him out for the 4th inning – 2nd time thru the lineup.
    He gives up a run and gets pulled with one out and a guy on 2nd.
    Paredes and his electric but sometimes erratic arm comes in and gives up an RBI single – game tightening up

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  6. The Braves DFA’d Folty tonight. He looked bad and his fastball was at 90MPH. Knowing Folty, his mouth might have matched his arm in the aftermath of his performance. Anyway, you can now see how that Folty trade finished up by checking out the stats of all the players involved.

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  7. Speaking about “bees”, it was nice to “C” a bunch of our bullpen boys bring their “A” game this series: Bryan Abreu (age 23), Brandon Bailey (age 25), Brandon Bielak (age 24) & Blake Taylor (age 24). The “Kidder” B’s?

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    • Thanks for posting.
      I’m glad to know Ivey doesn’t accept the head whack as criticism.
      I never put any stock in it meaning he’d be a reliever because of the effort (rolls eyes).

      Also wish the article addressed his rumored Grade 1 tear, and where he touched on it briefly in The Runner Sports interview earlier this year. I’d heard he and Solis were hitting 96 in Spring, so I’d be happy to forget an orthopedist, Matt Collier mentioned it.

      Awaiting confirmation from Jim if he really did “fight for Tyler.”

      Stevenson admitted yesterday that he stepped aside in 2017 draft room, so that Nick Venuto could select Bielak.

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      • The guy Jim wanted to select didn’t pan out btw.

        Anyone recall who that was without looking 12th round ’17?
        I’ll give you a hint. He went to same Seminole State as Toro.

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      • GoStros
        I went and looked it up after reading your 1st comment (not your second), but I won’t say who it was except that his name makes him sound like a hockey player and it does not bode well to play two seasons at A ball and the second year is much worse

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      • Yes, a Frenchy, Dan Ha!

        Ivey: “Yes, sir. Jim Stevenson was the scout. He’s the guy who drafted Dallas Keuchel, and a lot of other really good players. They have a lot of trust in him, and I think he fought for me a little bit.”

        Is that true, Jim?

        His response:

        “Heck yeah!! I brought him to Minute Maid for a pre draft workout out of high school and he was lights out! Wanted him since hS.”

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  8. I have been pretty impressed with these young arms pressed into service. Blake Taylor may be a real nice return from the Marisnick trade – looked real good in both appearances and Lord this team could sure use a good lefty out of the bullpen for once.

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    • I was writing back in Spring that Taylor had beaten out Cionel.
      That gave me a little confidence to put Blake in Top 25 before he graduates.
      The control looks good, but he also has some really nice rise/life on his 4S.

      Maybe we finally won a trade with NYM? Some even see a future for the add-on Kenedy Corona (who may be in line changing his name as we speak).

      Yes, yes, vindication for those of us loving this prospect group.
      Wonder if Jonathan Mayo will come back and admit we aren’t a bottom barrel farm?

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  9. -We still have Cionel in the system and on the 60-man if we need him.
    -The Astros may need every pitcher before the season ends.
    GS1, do you have any insight from your sources about the baseball and it’s flight so far this season? I do think it travels farther if hit by a player from one of the New York teams.
    -This is strictly an impression by me, but it sure feels like the layoff and short preparation time has really hurt the pitchers physically far more than the hitters. How do you see it?
    – I agree with you on the Astros system being underrated. I believe the Astros have 6 true major league outfielders on their team who are capable of starting in the league, and at least 8 infielders.

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    • Good questions.

      I have not looked at launch angle, bat speed to make these comps, no.
      Funny you mention that though because I was leery of using jackrabbit balls (whenever they wanted to), if there were distinctly two or more kinds of balls in use! I feared this all along, and just another way to tilt the outcome to their golden geese. Of course, I’d be a real theorist trying to advance this without proof.

      The plausible explanations I did find researching this last year (seeing nobody slugged 600 in AA, but AAA had a record number in ’19), was that materials used for cork had seasonal qualities based on where they procured them. Literally, led me to reading about weather patterns, and trees in Brazil. While this sounded like it could make a difference, MLB partnering with Rawlings was a big red flag.

      Watching how they are covering up the Yankees cheating (new video shows proof of filming the A’s in 2018!), and internal memos they want to squash in trial, takes me right back to suspecting the worst.

      I wonder if anyone will even notice, Op, with all the other news to shovel out!

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      • You didn’t like the Marisnick trade when it first happened. You were sour on the JD Davis trade and seemed to have a hangover from it.
        As you look at Taylor and Corona more closely, now, do you feel better about it.
        My thoughts are that the Astros(or maybe Click, as a Ray) really liked Corona as a free agent, but lost out to the Mets. Then, when the Astros gauged the Mets’ interest in Jake they saw the opportunity to score a lefty reliever, plus a guy they might have wanted all along.
        Is it possible that the Astros secretly love this trade because of the two players they received, that few outside observers knew about?

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      • No, I thought we’d trade Jake for sure. After the 83, and 80 OPS+ yrs in succession, it was time. We needed to focus on contact hitters.

        https://www.crawfishboxes.com/2019/11/28/20986987/taking-a-swing-at-astros-upcoming-player-decisions

        Yes, sour on Davis for the reason Luhnow was “surprised” by BVW interest should have told Jeff himself, Mets had higher internal grades that we did. Seeing Peterson debut for them today reminds me again that we should’ve stood our ground for Vientos or the lefty. But, honestly, can’t win them all, and all credit goes to JD and their coaching staff.

        Valuing Santana so highly was the real mistake at the time, whereas he’s fallen completely off my Top 40. Adolph was on Callis Top 30, while I kicked and screamed — he’s not even an afterthought now. I said we lost that trade the day it happened, and they hammered mercilessly saying we cannot know for 5-8 yrs. Rhetorically, do we need even another month to decide?

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      • The genius there which I hadn’t accounted for was replacing a disgruntled Davis with a copacetic Cuban, who could actually handle a SS glove in Diaz. Meanwhile, getting something for Thornton.

        What made me so frustrated as 2019 went on (Davis was lighting up Statcast), White did not make the most of his opportunity.

        My wife even ordered his jersey for me for Christmas. Maybe I’ll gift it to dave (wink).

        Liked by 1 person

    • On one of Dan’s shoulders is an angel who is saying – if the MLB is trying to help the Yankees win it all, they are doing a terrible job (like they do on everything they try) since the Yanks have not won in 12 seasons.

      On Dan’s other shoulders is a devil who is saying – the MLB was saying to the Astros how dare you try to cheat like the Yanks do – this is our shot across your bow and a warning to all other teams who would try to level the playing field against our darlings.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wasn’t trying to suggest anything covert in the league helping NY teams win. I was slapping at MLB.com for going out of their way to have an article virtually every day raving about the home runs they hit. They are the bestestes home runs, EVER! Yesterday it was Alonso and the day before it was Stanton. MLB is homers for their homies homers. Puke.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh, sorry I read into that.

        As to your comment on NY homers, I’d had some fun a week before the season predicting what newspaper headlines might say:

        Astros beat Rangers with a little help (as usual)
        Yankees hit 4 HR’s in loss to cheating Astros 15-4
        Angels Trout shows why he’s MVP with 2 bombs, Astros win 10-2.

        It reminds me of the reporter standing in front of a blazing city in background, saying, “this is mostly peaceful!”

        Liked by 1 person

    • I was surprised, somewhat, about Strom coming back. Remember, he had mentioned, just after the bloodletting, about making this his last season. I am glad he is coming back! Now, the club is alleged to have signed 43 year old Fernando Rodney.

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  10. Dusty Baker on his extension: “My reaction was I’ve been a lam duck manager four or five times. I was one of the lamest ducks there is walking around. Feels pretty good not to be a lame duck, and this is the best I’ve been treated in quite a while.”

    Happy for the man!
    Op, please remind me end of 2021 I wrote this. I honestly have no idea how it will age.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m going to give credit to Op for continuing to support Scrubb. He sure came into Spring and Summer camp looking bigger, stronger and sharper.

    He got the call up today, and Biagini sent packing to CC with “injury”.

    We still have Sanabria & Castellanos to vet as R5’s, before we call on Forrest.
    Oh, and Nivaldo. I’d prefer to see him if Scrubb doesn’t work out in short run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am surprised that Biagini is not out with a sore neck from looking over his shoulder at the batted balls that zipped by him thus far.

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  12. Framber got hosed on the hits. Another reason I hate the shift. Bregman has a lapse and Perez can’t get an out. Not a good inning.

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  13. I know our guys did not exactly have the best control again last night, but at least twice on 3-0 counts, we threw strikes that were called ball four. Historically, anything close to the plate is strike one. It’s a pattern developing I’ve either imagined, or it’s bad umpiring or it’s by intent. Even Greinke got squeezed on Sunday.

    Winnable game though As long as we keep playing, our bats need to wake up and give the guys on the mound some room to work with. That’s where we control our own destiny. I sure hope we get a chance to watch that happen soon.

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    • Agreed on just keep doing our thing.

      Plus, Dodgers were full strength, pitching all their studs. tey put all eggs in basket to win that one. Our rookies had to face former MVP’s right out of gate in a baptism of fire.

      Like Op, I’m proud of our guys.

      And for the record, if not for covid, our boys would have Thrown Down last night.

      That ump is the biggest piece of work on planet.
      If he cannot do the ONE job of not allowing head shots, replace them all with robots! I’m all for umpires and old school, but if they cannot do this part right — keeping order on the field — get rid of them!

      It was great to see Nivaldo get himself out of trouble, same as Scrubb.

      I had us going 3-1 vs SEA and 1-1 vs Dodgers with combines 24-11 for 1st two months. That was pre-Verlander. We have some work to do, but within reach when Springer and others heat up.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I guess my point is that the media, league, players and umps all seem to want to Astros to continue paying their penance. So be it, but if this carries into 2021, then it will get downright ugly on the field.

    Liked by 1 person

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