A quick note: Next Friday, September 30, is Jose Lima's birthday. In honor of this special occasion, and the prevalence and prominence of our podcast: Lima Time Time, we are encouraging everyone to visit your local Casa Ole and eat dinner next Friday evening. Tweet your picture eating dinner at Casa Ole and we'll retweet it. Do it for Jose Lima.
This is not the week to forget how to beat the Angels, Astros. The Astros came into last night's game having won 11 of 12 against Los Angelanaheim before Ricky Nolasco - RICKY NOLASCO - beat the piss out of the Astros as the Angels won 2-0.
*The only runs of the game came in the first inning on Cyborg Pujols' home run to the Crawford Boxes. Pujols:
Obviously, you want to take the lead right away, especially when those guys have been playing pretty well against us this year. It was one of those things that I got a good pitch to hit and got a good swing. Nolasco did a heck of a job throwing seven innings. It is not easy to pitch against those guys over there. They have a heck of a lineup.
*It's the first shutout for the Astros since September 9, also a 2-0 loss, to the Cubs. It's only the 3rd shutout for the Astros since the All-Star Break.
*So here's the Wild Card situation after the Orioles lost (again) and the Tigers won both ends of a doubleheader against the Twins:
WC1: Toronto +1 (83-69)
WC2: Detroit - (82-70)
Baltimore: -0.5 (82-71)
Houston: -1.5 (81-72)
Let's not consider that, had the Astros beaten RICKY NOLASCO last night, they would be tied with Baltimore and just a half-game behind Detroit with nine games to play.
Damaging loss as the FanGraphs playoff odds fall to 16.6%. FiveThirtyEight puts it at 22%.
Maybe we can hope for chaos: A six-team AL Wild Card tie.
*But Mike Fiers pitched very nicely, striking out a season-high nine batters. Hinch:
His first inning was really his only bad inning. He had the two walks when I pulled him, but he was really good.
Coming down here in September, [the losses] seem bigger, but it's one game and we're going to come back tomorrow and do things well and beat this team tomorrow. Every game's big for us, starting in April and ending in September.
*Lance McCullers threw a bullpen session with full intensity off a mound on Thursday. Hinch:
It doesn't really mean anything in terms of setting a timeline or a date, or what it means toward the end of the season. But to see him get off the mound and look like a pitcher again was definitely the highlight of the day so far.
Bregman is also itching to get back, but the Astros are preaching caution. Bregman:
When you're not out there, it's brutal. I pretty much lost my voice yelling at the TV this week. I've just been following from afar and trying to get healthy and figure out a way to get back as soon as I can.
*In Jon Heyman's regular Thursday column he notes how the Cubs have relied on the stupidity of other teams - not just the Astros!!!1! - to build a juggernaut.
*Bill Brown is retiring at the end of the season, ending a career with the Astros that began on April 6, 1987.
*Keith Olbermann on Vin Scully.
*Seattle's Steve Clevenger: Piece of trash. Also, never get on Facebook.