*I want to start off this morning with a little sermon. In my previous career I was fairly data-driven. I ran an education department at a major museum. I had people working under me, and about a $250,000 budget. Some of you might laugh at that, but for a history major, that was sort of a big deal. I wanted/needed to show that the department was improving over the previous years. As we started going through the year I would keep a monthly track and make projections about where the department might end up the year. At the bottom of my spreadsheet I would make notes such as, "Remember: three days of rain in mid-May," or, "X School cancelled field trip because of funding issues." These were things that could impact our numbers. Not that I was planning on not improving, but I wanted to have a couple of easy things to point to just in case we fell short.
This is what concerns me about the Astros. The Trade Deadline had no impact on this 16-game stretch. As Grant Brisbee wrote last week:
It's not fair to look at the Astros' record since the trade deadline and make any sort of point. It's not just unfair, but it's also incompetent, brainless, and rude. The Astros didn't make a trade at the deadline, the Astros are 2-4 [now 2-9] since then, and I need new tires for my car. Those three facts correlate with each other roughly the same.
And it's easy to look and see that Sonny Gray or Yu Darvish have definitely not made any starts for the Houston Astros since July 31, so that explains why the Astros suck right now. It's not the case. But there's a creeping thought in the back of my mind that guys like Keuchel and Reddick have this ready-made excuse for why things aren't going well, and that in their minds, the Astros' record and the Astros' inactivity at the end of July are very much linked. That kind of mindset can snowball on you because "Well we didn't get any help, that's why we suck," and then they go out and do exactly that: suck. So it would be real nice if the Veteran Presence guys like Beltran and McCann could smack some dudes around in the clubhouse (maybe they have, I don't know) and get everyone on track.
*Mike Fiers gave up a 3-run homer to #9 hitter Brett Nicholas - his first home run of the season and the third home run of his career - as the Astros lost their fifth straight game, 8-3. The Astros are 71-45. The Angels beat the Mariners to take over sole possession of 2nd place, and are 12 games back. In their last five games the Astros are 0-5 while the Angels are 5-0. This is just kinda starting to get old. There are 46 games remaining.
Times like this will always feel miserable, bleak, frustrating. But every team goes through them. Now while you're going through them, they're hard to describe. It's the same thing over and over again.
*Mike Fiers: 4IP, 5H/6ER, 2K:4BB, 2HR, 1HBP. Fiers:
That's pretty much the key to failure and success for me I think is the walks and the home run again. One home run turns into three runs.
Hopefully Dallas can get us back on track, but it starts with the starting pitcher. I think we need to really go out there and attack these hitters and not give them too much credit and just be aggressive and things will start turning our way [Ed. note: that is a run-on sentence]. It's a rough stretch right now, but we'll be able to pull through and go back on a run.
*In this 16-game stretch where the Astros are 4-12, Astros pitchers have thrown 139IP, 163H/95ER, 137K:67BB for a 6.15 ERA/1.65 WHIP. They've lost seven straight road games.
*Carlos Gomez got HBP'd twice: once by Fiers and once by Francisco Liriano (who, once again, allowed both inherited runners to score). Gomez:
I don't know what's going on, I've got nothing to say.
Oh great here comes Hacksaw Jeff Banister:
Everything that I do, I'm the trouble-maker so I have to take it. When I do something, they talk about it really good. When they do it to me, nobody says nothing. I understand.
Neither pitcher is exactly the picture of command. Greg Maddux isn't up there. Fiers leads the league with 12 HBPs and has 51 walks in 128IP this season. Liriano goes through patches where he couldn't hit water if he fell out of a boat. He has 46 walks in 85.1IP this season. Nothing's going on, Carlos Gomez. For once in your life try to remember that it's not about you.
*Tyson Ross threw 5.2IP but allowed four hits and five walks. The Astros were 2x6 w/RISP and left seven on base.
*Astros catchers haven't thrown out a baserunner since June 18, with opposing baserunners taking a base in 27 straight attempts.
*Alex Bregman's K-less streak ended at 54 plate appearances.
*Congratulations to J.D. Davis, who drove in his first MLB RBIs and got his first MLB extra-base hit.
*ESPN's Bradford Doolittle asks if the Astros have enough pitching for the postseason. The answer: Maybe!
*Brian T. Smith asks if this is a slump or the beginning of the end.
*The Astros released lefty Ashur Tolliver yesterday. In 35.1IP for Fresno, Tolliver allowed 39H/28ER, 28K:33BB.
*The Astros promoted pitchers Forrest Whitley and Cionel Perez from High-A to Corpus. Whitley made seven appearances for Buies Creek, throwing 31.1IP, 28H/11ER, 50K:9BB. So this season Whitley has 117 strikeouts in 77.2IP with a 3.01 ERA/1.29 WHIP. He'll be 20 next month.
LHP Cionel Perez made five appearances for BCA, throwing 25.1IP, 27H/8ER, 18K:5BB.
*Riley Ferrell faced six batters last night and struck out five of them in a Corpus loss to Springfield.
*Sean Pendergast tweeted out the original feel-good story of the Astros acquiring Randy Johnson.
*Inside the thriving subculture of eclipse chasers.
*Dallas Keuchel will take the mound today in an attempt to have a Game Score higher than the number of baserunners he allows.
*Closing note: at some point in the last two or three days Astros County reached five million page views. I used to care way more about page views than I do now, but I just want to thank you for visiting this dumb little web site. It's a labor of love, and I love all of you. Unless you're a Nazi.