The Astros' 2015 season took a dark turn towards despair and ruin last night in a 6-4 loss at Seattle. The Tigers couldn't find anybody who could adequately use a glove or throw a ball in their loss to the Rangers, and the A's are 18-0 against the Astros and 0-144 against everybody else, losing to the Angels. FanGraphs' division odds (of which we've been keeping track almost every day throughout the season) now sits at 3.1% - a 15.8% drop from yesterday and the lowest those chances have been since April 9. The postseason odds fell almost 28% to 44%. Last night was a bad night. Here's where we are:
AL Wild Card
There are four games left.
The Astros had a 4-2 lead in the 6th, but Robinson Cano hit a two-run two-out home run to tie the game, and someone named "Shawn O'Malley" hit a bases loaded single with two outs in the 8th to put the Mariners up for good. The last four Mariners runs came with two outs in the inning because, as Hinch put it, the Astros need "to find a way to close out games."
Mike Fiers, who went 5.2IP, 5H/4R (3ER), 7K:1BB, and gave up the game-tying homer to Cano, said:
We're just not getting it done. We had the game right there, with the lead. I just needed one more out to get out of the inning and keep the momentum going.
Let's look at the 8th inning:
*Will Harris got Nelson Cruz to lead off the inning, completing a four-out appearance with no damage done.
*Hinch calls on Oliver Perez. Last night was Perez's fifth straight appearance and seventh appearance in the previous nine days. He got Cano to fly out but allowed a single to Seth Smith.
*Hinch then brings out Pat Neshek, who has not pitched since September 23 and has been absolutely God-awful this month. Neshek gives up a bloop single to Mark Trumbo and walks Franklin Gutierrez to load the bases. Hinch leaves him in because, after all, there are two outs. Surely Pat Neshek can get one batter out, right? Well yeah! He got Jesus Sucre out, but only after Shawn O'Malley hits a two-run single.
Neshek in September (arbitrary endpoint alert): 6.1IP, 13H/6ER, 3K:4BB. He has just been awful, and has - just by himself - lost or blown five games in September.
Neshek, to his credit, spoke to reporters:
I've never really had anything like this before. Pitching's all about confidence and riding the wave. Hopefully, you always tell yourself, hey, this next (outing) I'm going to go up there and throw up a scoreless and see where it takes me. And you know, I'm hoping for it one of these days.
Once again the Astros struggled with runners in scoring position, going 1x10 w/RISP and leaving seven on base. In September the Astros are hitting .213 with runners in scoring position.
*Scott Kazmir gets the start tonight because YOLO. But he's been disappointed in himself:
I mean personally, very disappointed. Just on recently just not contributing like I wanted to...I feel good. I feel healthy. That's what matters, and the bullpens and everything are going well, it's just a matter of executing pitches, and that's what's gotten me in trouble.
Oh hey, but here's something interesting. Kazmir said that the Astros' game plan has been inconsistent, using an example of an Astros scouting report calling for throwing sliders to a righty even though he's not really comfortable with it.
That's the most frustrating part about this whole process. This whole past three or four weeks...It'd be one start where I'm not using my changeup, one start where I'm not using my cutter. It'd just be frustrating. I feel like we were very inconsistent on our game plan (but) I feel like no matter what, if I execute the pitch, I'll be fine.
That's, uh...worth keeping an eye on.
*Jed Lowrie left the game with quad soreness.
*ESPN's David Schoenfield wonders if Francisco Lindor has passed Correa as the AL's top rookie. Why not, the Astros are getting passed in everything else this month.
*The County Mountie wants to keep a little perspective here. I did, too, and then Neshek blew that game, and I've had it with perspective.