*Someone who allegedly goes by "Austin Pruitt" absolutely shut the Astros down last night. Astros got nothing and lost 3-0, a closer game than you would have expected from Dallas Keuchel's 1st inning in which he allowed a Logan Morrison 2-run home run. Man I hate Logan Morrison. The Astros are 69-38. The Mariners lost, so the lead is 15 games with 55 games remaining.
*The Woodlands native and UH guy Pruitt shut down the Astros last night in just his 3rd career start, throwing 6.1IP, 5H/0ER, 3K:1BB, lowering his ERA from 6.63 to 5.65. Rays manager and Former Astros Great Kevin Cash:
Pruitt was awesome. I know he had a ton of family and friends [here]...He was excited to pitch here, and all the talk about it. But to go out and perform like that had to have been pretty special for him.
*Dallas Keuchel threw 5IP, 7H/3ER, 2K:2BB. He threw a first-pitch strike to 12 of the 24 batters he faced, and 49 of his 87 pitches were strikes. Keuchel:
Just had runners on, just couldn't quite get the two-out out to finish the inning...So we'll clean it up. I need to be better. It all started with me...It wasn't a good game by any means. We'll look to make some adjustments from there.
He wasn't sharp. But just from start to start...You look back at how much time he missed and then the rehab starts and then this being his second start - it's a step in the right direction.
*The Astros pitching staff was averaging 10.2 strikeouts per game over their first 101 games of the season. Last night was the 6th straight game - beginning with the Detroit series - that the Astros haven't recorded a double-digit strikeout game (tying a season-high), averaging 7.8 strikeouts per game.
*For all the talk about the Astros' inability to go deep into a game, Mike Petriello notes that the Dodgers are doing the same thing:
Through Monday morning, just over 52% of all Major League starts this year had gone at least six innings. The Dodgers, at 46.7%, rank only 22nd by that measure. The Astros, at 44.2%, rank just 25th.
*Jose Altuve is 0x8 in August after having gone hitless in just two games in July. So, essentially, no Altuve, Springer, or Correa in the lineup for two games. I doubt there are too many more games like this for Altuve.
*The Astros GIDP'd three times last night, the 8th time that's happened this season (4-4).
*The Astros were 0x9 w/RISP last night, and are 1x14 w/RISP in the last two games. In the 3rd inning, the Astros had runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out before Derek Fisher struck out and Jose Altuve GIDP'd.
*Just in case you're thinking about freaking out:
-The 2016 Cubs went 5-15 from June 20 - July 9 and saw their lead cut from 12.5 to 6.5 games.
-The 2015 Royals went 8-16 from September 4 - September 29.
-The 2014 Giants went 7-20 from June 9 - July 8 and saw their 10-game lead evaporate to 0.5 games in that span.
-The 2013 Red Sox went 4-10 between April 30 - May 14
-The 2012 Giants went 6-10 between July 25 - August 10.
We could do this all day. What do the above teams have in common? They all won the World Series that year. It's a rough patch, and every team goes through them. McCullers hasn't been the same and is now on the DL. Will Harris is on the DL. Correa and Springer are out. Injuries are piling up, but we're all tearing our hair out, and they're still 9-8 since the All-Star Break.
*Ken Rosenthal has an interesting post on Facebook dot com in which he (sort of) defends the Astros' Monday Massacre, opening with the following:
The Astros entered Monday thinking they were going to trade for three relievers: Francisco Liriano, Zach Britton and a third, unidentified high-end type whose addition would have surprised the industry, according to major-league sources.
The Mystery Reliever was not Britton, according to Rosenthal's sources, which means that it wasn't Peter Angelos who vetoed the trade. But the Orioles did balk at the physical of one of the Astros who would have joined Baltimore. Remember they pulled that crap on Dexter Fowler before the 2016 season. Then the Orioles went all Houdini on both the Dodgers and the Astros - a common Baltimore tactic - who were in on Britton (the phrase "cold feet" is used, referring to Baltimore). According to Rosenthal's sources, the Astros apparently had a better package for Yu Darvish, but the Rangers went with the Dodgers in the end.
Read the whole thing. It doesn't absolve the Astros of any "wrong-doing" (quotations mine), but it does provide a little background. There are, however, two camps whose narrative this story contradicts:
1. The "Astros hoard prospects" camp. Regardless of the results, the Astros were prepared to part with enough prospects to bring in two high-end relievers. Rosenthal isn't the type of reporter who would only get the Astros side on this story, so there are multiple teams who confirmed that the Astros were going to get Britton and the Mystery Reliever, which would have involved some serious names.
2. The "Astros didn't try" camp. They tried. They failed. I know exactly what's going to happen down in the comments on this, and that's fine.
The Orioles and the Mystery Team can Lady & The Tramp a plate of tapeworms, as far as I'm concerned. But whatever. This will serve as confirmation bias for whatever your viewpoint likely is, anyway.
*George Springer did sprints and agility drills for the first time since going on the DL with that injured quad, but a return on Friday is "unlikely." Springer:
It's a good starting point. When I feel right and 100 percent, I'll go back out there.
*From UniWatch's Paul Lukas: The oral history of the Astros' rainbow uniforms.
*Jose Altuve won the AL Player of the Month award, of course. When you hit .485/.523/.727 in a month, it should sort of be expected. His .485 average is tied for the 4th-highest in baseball since 1961. Yulieski Gurriel won the Aaron Judge Rookie of the Month award after hitting .304/.333/.565 in July.
*Two pieces from AC writers for your pleasure this morning: the Masked Marvel took a look at who was traded (by other teams) at the Deadline, and Cockroach chimes in with his thoughts on Dallas Keuchel's comments.
*The Indians lost Andrew Miller to the DL and Josh Tomlin for six weeks. Max Scherzer says it feels like he has a pinched nerve in his neck.
*For what it's worth, the Tigers did the predictable thing and put Justin Verlander on revocable waivers. How would he end up with the Astros? As follows:
1. The Astros - who are 29th in line - put in a waiver claim and the 28 teams with a worse record don't. Verlander still would have to approve it.
2. Verlander clears waivers and the Astros and Tigers are able to work out a trade (talks could be on-going with any other team, as well), and Verlander approves it.
*Carlos Correa is dating Miss Texas Daniella Rodriguez, if that sort of thing interests you.
*The Astros made the August Splash we've been waiting for, signing the Atlantic League's Rico Noel. He successfully stole 301 bases in 369 attempts in the minors.
*The real story of Hideki Irabu's tragic life and death.
*A Christian school in Las Vegas - that apparently doesn't have "Google" or "Showtime" has hired Dave Bliss as their head basketball coach and athletic director.