After getting a bit of respite from the 100+ F temperatures the last few days, we are heading back up; it is what it is in a Texas summer. And the same could be said about our first-place baseball team, the Houston Astros.
They are scuffling a bit lately but still hold a 10-game lead, which is pretty stiff considering the Mariners had to win 12 straight to get within 10 games. They are fighting off a sudden slew of injuries and sometimes have a lineup that is hard to swallow. But it is what it is.
So, here are some thoughts….
- Jose Siri is becoming the poor man’s Jake Marisnick around here. He is truly an amazing fielder but an even worse hitter than JFSF. Friday night, he made one 5-star catch which the Astros announcing crew said he had a 15% chance of catching, and he did it without diving. Then he barely came short on a ball to the fence that the announcing crew said he had a 0% chance of catching as it ticked off the end of his glove. He gets great jumps in the field and has blazing speed. Then he gets up and swings at pitches a foot below and outside. Frustrating.
- Michael Brantley tried swinging the bat on Thursday, didn’t feel right, and was sent back for more evaluation. While the Astros are making no big deal about it, it sounds like the thing that might lead to a “cleaning out” of the shoulder. The Astros really miss his steady presence in the lineup. Note: I am not a doctor. I only play one in a fan blog.
- Losing Brantley, Altuve, and Alvarez, two All Stars and one of their best hitters, has certainly hurt a lineup that already lacked a back end and is now missing from the front end and middle. But with a 10-game lead, even with it shrinking, they need to avoid rushing anyone back.
- When you lose players like those three, it goes far beyond just their loss of production. There is less accumulated stress on the opposing pitchers as they don’t have to pitch to some of the others with someone on base (as often) and can afford to pitch around others with less protection in the lineup.
- Despite giving up three runs Friday night, Jose Urquidy has been a very effective pitcher after dropping his cutter from his pitch mix a few starts ago. It behooves the Astros to have as many pitchers as possible available to go 6 or more innings while giving the team a shot at a win.
- The Astros have gone three games without a home run, which is quite unusual for them. Can they put anything together in the next two games before the All Star break to feel better about themselves after scoring 5 total runs over the last 3 games? It helps to picture Justin Verlander taking the mound Saturday afternoon.
- Is it possible that the only Astro to play in the All Star Game will be Framber Valdez? Verlander would have to do it on only a couple days’ rest, though he could take it as his throwing day between starts. Alvarez is out. And reading the comments from Jose Altuve on mlb.com, “A lot of discomfort, it got a little bit of bone, right below my knee. Also, some muscles and tendons. We’re just evaluating. It’s day-to-day right now. I’m trying my best to get better. Whenever I feel good, I’ll come back and play” he could be back today or in a week.
- We (the collective of most fans) have our bones to pick with Dusty Baker, just like we have had with every Astros manager. But you can’t argue with the fact that he has kept this team on a steady course since taking over and steered them through the rough waters of injuries and individual underperformance. Since losing 3 in a row June 8-11, they have not lost more than one game in a row. I hope this team goes all the way and Dusty retires with a championship pelt added to his belt.
What are you thinking about today?