Just one game…but one big win

The list of reasons for the Astros to lose the finale of a two-game series with the Dodgers, which they won 5-2, was a lot longer than their list of reasons to expect a win.

  • They had just played maybe their worst game of the season on Tuesday night in bowing to the Dodgers 9-2. Their offense looked anemic, their pitchers had doled out nine walks and a hit by pitch and they looked like they were the inferior team in every phase of the game.
  • The Tuesday loss added to their three-game sweep at the hands of the Texas Rangers had the Astros on a downward trajectory and looking very beatable.
  • The pitching matchup Wednesday greatly favored the Dodgers as LA sent out defending 2020 Cy Young winner and contending 2021 Cy Young candidate Trevor Bauer (5-2, 1.98 ERA entering the game) against rookie Luis Garcia (2-3, 3.38 ERA also entering the game). Garcia had been good while Bauer had been great so far this season.
  • Two of the Astros best left-handed bats to send up against the right-handed Bauer were unable to play. Michael Brantley came out of the Ranger series with vague leg soreness, which will keep him out until at least Friday’s game. Yordan Alvarez, who has been badly slumping (for him), injured his wrist in his last at bat in Tuesday’s game and sat out Wednesday’s game.
  • The Astros’ closer Ryan Pressly had a stiff neck and was not available for the game. This meant someone else would have to close if the opportunity arose. More on that later.
  • Reliever Kent Emanuel, who has been effective, came out of the game on Tuesday with elbow discomfort and was not available to pitch.
  • The team got the news that Lance McCullers Jr. , arguably their best starter to date, was headed to the IL. While it did not affect this game, it no doubt could have psychologically affected the team.
  • The Dodgers were 30-18 with the second-best record in baseball and on a season-high 8 game winning streak. They also had a fairly vocal following in the supposedly unfriendly confines of Minute Maid Park.

But baseball is the game that goes the least according to plan and while Trevor Bauer pitched very well, Luis Garcia pitched better and the Astros’ bullpen, which has been the big question mark lately, outdueled the Dodgers’ pen with some thrills along the way.

So what did the Astros do to turn things around last night?

  • Garcia pitched terrific, going 6 innings giving up 2 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 7 Ks a bit better than Bauer, who gave up solo home runs to the first batter he faced, Jose Altuve, and the next to last batter he faced, Carlos Correa.
  • Altuve’s blast to lead off the game set the Dodgers back on their heels a bit and gave Garcia some confidence to face the tough LA lineup. Correa’s liner into the Crawford Boxes was big in that it gave the Astros the lead, allowed Garcia to notch another win and came after an inexplicable failed steal attempt by Yuli Gurriel.
  • The Astros jumped on reliever Nate Jones for the eventual winning runs with three in the 7th, highlighted by a 2 run line-drive homer by Aledmys Diaz.
  • The Astros’ bullpen trio of Brooks Raley, Ryne Stanek and Bryan Abreu held the Dodgers to one solo home run in 3 innings of work, though Abreu showed how hard it can be to earn a first major league save. After getting the first two batters, including a terrific play by Altuve on a Will Smith grounder up the middle, Abreu starts channelling the bullpen of the last few games and walked two batters in a row. All fans flashbacked to the many times that Albert Pujols has disappointed the home town crowd in the past, but Abreu struck out Uncle Albert to preserve the victory.

Things don’t get any easier as the Astros face the San Diego Padres over the weekend. The 32-18 Padres have the best record in the majors and start off the series throwing two of their best pitchers in Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 1.64 ERA), who is still building up his pitch count after an IL stint and their 2021 ace Yu Darvish (5-1, 1.75 ERA) against the returning Framber Valdez and Jake Odorizzi. Sunday’s game features Zack Greinke against the dreaded TBD. Just like the Dodger series, it is a chance for the Astros to show how they stack up against the best teams in the majors.

55 comments on “Just one game…but one big win

  1. Yesterdays day off had to be much more pleasant following a mini split with the Dodgers. This is not a healthy rivalry. The atmosphere at Minute Maid was troubling. We don’t normally see bloody fist fights in the crowd there. Thankfully the players stuck to playing baseball.

    Tonight we’ve got to get to this El Flaco guy early and make him work hard. He’s only thrown 11 innings. Of course, Framber has not thrown any. But hopefully we get four from him and then Javier takes over. If the line up gets the job done, we should be winning this opener. And that sure would help get this ship sailing again.

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    • Thanks AC. He was listed on the 25(6) man roster but haven’t seen him pitch yet. I did see his stats with the Skeeters. Still can’t figure out the logic behind giving Tyler Ivey the ball in the 1st game of the Dodger series when he has the highest ERA on the Skeeter’s roster?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another reason (thinking about Pressley) for the Astros to lose was God was favoring the Dodgers. Don’t forget Exodus 32:9: “I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • AC, I know this is “your guy,” so thought I’d post it. My BOS scout thinks Greyson is the top pitcher in all the minor leagues, but he probably is another year away.

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      • Yep, watched his game last night and got a (do not post) from his family that he was told he was promoted to AA. He had an erratic first inning and then completed dominated the Mets top prospects. The top three Orioles prospects are now at Bowie. It is a short drive from Bowie to Baltimore but A LONG WAY.

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  3. Dan, I happen to have 3 extra tickets to Sugar Land Skeeters tonight, if you want to invite your son too. Otherwise, if I can’t drum up a few locals, I’ll just watch the Astros instead. Just putting it out there for the bloggers… Best!

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    • Oh man – thanks for the offer, GoStros. I unfortunately have a family “thing” tonight.
      Maybe someone else out there can take you up on that.

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      • Yes, last minute as my wife has a dear classmate friend on last leg in New Braufels, opened up the space. I had just recalled you said earlier this year, you’d like to go see them some time. Anyone else is surely invited, and maybe another time with you, ol pal! Meeting the man, myth and legend would be an honor.

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    • Each of the OF we’re considering has a different tool that stands out from the others.

      Siri, power might play but a 35% K rate. Would be worse in HOU.

      Straw, speed but no power. Much better plate discipline and plate command, evidenced by his better looking ab’s lately (fouling off good pitches).

      Meyers, speed & glove but inexperienced.

      DLC another total package without experience.

      Dawson, same with a tad more swing & miss.

      McCormick, scrappy in every way, needs reps.

      Diaz is the clear choice for me to split time 3 ways with Straw & Chas. The biggest obstacle to calling up any of the others is the 40-man limitation. Astros chose Myles and Chas, and until we decide to cut ties, DFA or trade deadline, we are riding this horse for a while. Sure, you could option Straw let’s say, but who do you take off the 40-man to bring up Siri? And further, we have several other pitchers who were taken off but have to come back on; BaezJames, maybe Pruitt, plus the AAA pitchers Torres or Conine.

      It’s a real juggling act made possible with this new protocol stuff they can just call LMJ shoulder “soreness” long enough to have a fresh arm in while he rests, in addition to Jake and Framber coming back. James Click/Kevin Cash and the Rays F.O. were masters at this kind of thing.

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      • Regarding Siri, why is he striking out that much. Is he chasing too many pitches? Is he trying to put everything over the fence?

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      • If you saw him in Spring, yes he seems to take big hacks which admittedly are effective when he connects. Think George Springer on one knee. That strikeout percentage has been pretty consistent over the last few years, though. When Putila spoke of Advanced Scouting bringing him in, he said “elite defense,” so the power and legendary minor league status were supposed to be icing on the cake.

        To further point out, someone on twitter with an Astros publication not worth noting asked today, “Framber and Odorizzi still haven’t been brought off the IL, how will we do that…” I used to be able to answer without looking, but now I’m even more confused.

        For example, I was told Click told Chandler Rome that the reason they didn’t just 60-day James after Spring, which would have opened up a 40-man until he was ready that by doing so, we couldn’t keep him. It made no sense because that’s what we were doing with JV and Pruitt, and “with covid” Baez. But just the other day, Astros made Josh James retroactive 60, and added Garza. I seriously have no idea and seems like they’re making up not only the rules as they go, but getting hinkey with these injury reports.

        Funny how there’s no press surrounding Yankees testing positive after their vaccines. Are these rules being “bent” because of these Who Knows False Test Results? I’m lost and to the point, just tell who is playing and I’ll root for them Ha! Sorry to get off subject, but I think it effects Siri.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. No Brantley or Alvarez. Time to panic yet?

    They said Globe Life turf was the reason for MB.

    And Alvarez hasn’t been same since the slide into homeplate? Maybe I’m projecting there but when he slid, I recall thinking every Astro manager should be fired for not forbidding it.

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  5. A decision to make, oh Lord… hopefully that means 10 days only?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Probably could have been Toro instead, he was just activated from oblique today in AAA, but Garcia is more primed.

      They will have to send someone down tomorrow for Odorizzi. Talk about a seamless shuttle from SL, it could be anyone actually. Paredes, Scrubb? I won’t jinx it and say Framber HaHa

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  6. I’m so happy to see Framber back. Looks rusty, but still battles. Hard not to like Chas McCormick. That’s another big dinger. He had an excellent pitcher measured up with a good swing on the first pitch and got him on the second.

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  7. I don’t know why we have replay if they can’t get it right. The second baseman tagged between Straw’s arms and didn’t tag him until he was in. It was close but not too hard to see

    Liked by 1 person

    • DanP, you don’t seem to understand. NY Review looks to see what might have happened and rules according. What actually happened is of no consequence. (Better said “Are going to believe me or your lying eyes.”)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Going along with the above roster move questions with no answers. Hosmer goes out for the Padres and they have only 1 non-pitcher left on the bench. Are all teams trying to hold down pitch counts when means more pitchers? Do the bullpen guys need to face at least 3 batters and keep pitching until at least one guy has gotten on base? Have the GMO foods we are eating, really made us a lot physically weaker as a human race? Was Luhnow way ahead of his time and all teams are going to tandem pitching? Are the owners going to have to give in and make it a 30 man active roster? More questions with no answer from me.

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  9. So they put Brantley, Emanuel and Castro on the IL
    Astros miss shots throughout the game including the 10th inning and now getting murdered in the 11th

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  10. I have to wonder if whatever we have in the minor leagues would be better than these dumpster fires we keep sending to the mound out of the bull pen.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I went to bed after the almost slam in the 7th. I had a bad feeling. That would have been the dagger. Instead, new life. Heck though, the tandem pitching game plan worked as well as could have been expected. A feeble night by our veteran hitters. That was the real difference. We already know the pen sucks. Garcia will join Javier soon, giving us another reliable arm. I think we’re in for a tough weekend. Our GM has to get his pen rebuilt in the fly. No easy task.

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  12. Brooks Raley is a tease. He gets his strike outs, but throws meat. At this point he’s given us a -1.2 WAR. His other stats are in line with his career numbers. He’s one way to make a space on the 40 man.

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  13. – The game almost was McCormick 6 Padres 2 – that Chas fly ball carried a long ways for being so high. Almost a slam.
    – First time Raley pitched poorly in a couple weeks. I mean it was not like they were taking him yard – not all hard hit balls. Bielak was hit harder.
    – With Brantley and Alvarez out we have to get something bigger out of Bregman and Correa
    – The Framber-Cristian combo pitched well enough to win
    – This game was ripe for the picking. It gets a lot tougher today as Darvish has been excellent this season and Odorizzi has been Odor he is so far this year

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  14. This is interesting in light of pitch count and “taking it slow and cautious.” Click on any pitcher on this list that you have personally seen on TV or in person in your lifetime. Most of these were pitching 200 innings into their late 30’s or early 40’s. I know these were the best of the best, but Kershaw does have 5 years of 200 IP (236 tops) But he is 32 and sitting at 2400 IP.

    https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/IP_career.shtml

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  15. I did not want to mention this earlier this season… I will now. It appears the team’s record from last year was not a fluke. They are a .500 team under the current management.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m tired of watching Dusty Baker sitting in a rocking chair trying to sound like a manager. This team NEEDS a younger manager who can, and WILL light a fire under their butts! It’s like the whole team is being lulled to sleep.
    Granted they needed him last year to calm things down….but now they need a manager with more fire in his belly. Another AJ Hinch type would just be the ticket!
    Sorry you guys you might disagree with me but that’s EXACTLY how *I* feel. Odorizzi appears to be pitching pretty good so far…..keep your fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I just saw our youngsters produce a text book safety squeeze.

    Can we get nine outs and give up less than 5 runs for a win?

    I’ve decided that MLB should simply switch back to real baseball for extra innings and call it a tie if there is no winner after 12 innings.

    Andre the giant might have to go next. He’s painful to watch and it’s all my Nephew’s fault.

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  18. When things are going bad, new ways to lose are found. Not much can be done about injuries, especially when the minor league system is thin. It is thin. Taylor Jones probably has not had a good nights sleep. I feel bad for the kid. But one would hope a professional baseball player catching pop ups all his life would make that play. Yeah, Pressly set up the situation, but the pen really needs someone, anyone to help bail them out right now. I’m still encouraged that both of these games were almost won. We just did not have all of our resources available. Odorizzi exceeded expectations. We’ve got 111 games to play. If we don’t get a pen we’re screwed. If we get a pen, we’ll win 8 or 10 in a row at some point and be back on top of the division.

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      • Yes 45, I know there are some of us that still believe our system is way under ranked. I’d like the system to prove that. Not in three years or five years, but in 2021.

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      • This proves nothing, but it is worth reviewing. The 2011 Corpus Christi Hooks record was 50-90. But off that team came Jose Altuve, JD Martinez, Brandon Barnes, Jimmy Paredes, Jonathan Villar, Dallas Keuchel, and another dozen that had a short or unimpressive major league career.

        Liked by 1 person

    • What the Braves meant to say:
      We know about the incident and we wish we didn’t. If the Astros had signed this guy to play outfield, we wouldn’t be in this situation. So, it seems a lot of the blame should be put on them.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Astros winning 7-1 with a great outing by Greinke. Scrubb comes in and proceeds to give up 3 runs and a walk but finally gets the last out. Whew! Our bull pen is absolutely PATHETIC. Does our management have any answers except to keep running these excuses for a relief pitcher out there? If this keeps up I’ll have to get a prescription for blood pressure medicine because it’s almost going through the roof.

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  20. In spite of everything, our shorthanded, bullpen less squad really should have beaten a very good club in at least two of those three games. Arguably our three best bats sat. And outside of Tucker, we have no lefties. I have to give our guys a certain amount of credit for almost winning a couple.

    I know I’m being irrational, but I’d like to dismiss Andre and Joe now. Of course yesterday I mentioned Raley too, but Dan pointed out that he’s pitched (at least in comparison) pretty well lately and now we’ve got Abreu on the shelf. But I do think Raley will be gone before the season is over. Scrubb too. Smith will hang on for awhile by virtue of the fact that he’s making too much money.

    Our pen has not been so bad since we were losing 100 games regularly. Click has got some reinventing to do.

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  21. You know when your neighbor tells you his wife is cheating on him, and no one appreciates his work, and his family just wants his money, etc. etc. etc. And when he finally walks away you think “There is something missing in this story.”

    All of us saw the weakness in the bullpen, outfield, and bottom of the order hitting. Click, Crane, et al must have noticed also. So there is something missing in this story. No money, don’t want to win the pennant, MLB has them blocked. They really think they have a Fireman of the Year in the bullpen. Something. ?????????

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