Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Country For The Houston Astros

Houston is off to a terrible start this year. Like, really, really terrible. This isn’t a huge surprise because while Houston is not completely bereft of talent (Lee, Oswalt, Pence, Wandy, the injured Lance Berkman), they’ve been trading on their old men for a long time with nary a prospect (save Pence) panning out. There’s also not much in the pipeline for the future.

The old guys are finally starting to run out of gas. Lance Berkman, by far the biggest part of the Houston Offense, appears to have a serious injury that will keep him out until at least May, and probably sporadically thereafter. Carlos Lee is currently slugging .097. Pedro Feliz, an above average defensive third baseman who can’t hit a lick, has been seeing time at first base, which is just idiotic.
So how bad have the Astros been?

Record – 0-8

Team splits - .214/.239/.282

Total number of home runs hit – 2 (One by Pence, and the other by backup CF Jason Michaels)

Total Runs Scored – 14

Strike Outs by batters – 54

Walks – 8

Shut-outs suffered – 3

The Brewers, who lurk just above the Astros in the NL Central are hitting .264/.343/.438. They have 8 HRs. They’ve struck out 58 times, but also drawn 28 walks.
But it’s even sadder than it looks. Here is a run-by-run breakdown of all 14 of the Houston runs scored this year. Don’t worry, it won’t take very long.

Game 1 – Opening Day in Houston, Oswalt v. Lincecum

Lincecum pitched 7 innings of 4-hit, shutout ball. The Giants had a 5-0 lead and summoned journeyman Brandon Medders from the pen to pitch some 9th inning garbage time. The Astros, behind doubles from Geoff Blum and JR Towles manage to score 2 runs (2/14), at which point Brian Wilson came on to shut the door. The Astros never seriously threatened

Game 2 – No Runs

Game 3 – Cain v. Myers

In the 4th inning, Hunter Pence managed to reach on a throwing error by Pablo Sandoval, ending up on second. After a Carlos Lee strikeout he reached 3rd on a groundout by Geoff Blum, at which point a clutch double by Pedro Feliz drove him in (3/14). Jeff Keppinger then struck out to end the inning.

Down 4-1 in the 7th, Houston actually managed to tie it up. Blum and Keppinger both singled and scored on a triple by Corey Sullivan, a backup outfielder. (This remains his only hit of the year.) Sullivan would score on an infield single from Michael Bourn (6/14) before Kaz Matsui grounded out to end the inning. San Francisco would score 6 runs in the final two innings to turn this one into a 10-4 laugher. Of the four Astro runs, one was the direct result of a throwing error, and another scored on an infield hit.

Game 4 – No runs in an 8-0 loss to the Phils.

Game 5 – Moyer v. Paulino

The Astros have a veritable offensive explosion in the 3rd off of the ancient Jamie Moyer, touching him up for 5 runs, and they did it all with 2 outs and no one on base. The pitcher started off the rally with a double, followed by a Jason Michaels HR. Jeff Keppinger then walked and was driven in on a Hunter Pence HR. That’s right, both Astro home runs this year were hit in the same inning. Off of Jamie Moyer. They would get one more run on 4 consecutive singles from Lee, Feliz, Johnson, and Manzella before Humberto Quintero, who made the second out of the inning, also made the third. After all of that the Astros led by 1 run. They would relinquish that lead in the 7th as the Phils would take a 7-5 lead. The Phils would tack on 2 more in the 9th to go up 9-5. The Astros would get one back in the 9th, but never seriously threaten. Michael Bourn led off the inning with a double and would move to third on a groundout by Corey Sullivan. Jason Michaels then hit an RBI single (12/14) to end the scoring. Even though the Astros put up 6 runs, they never really threatened after the 7th. They would record 42% of their offense for the season in this game, including 100% of their HRs. It also required a double from the pitcher.

Game 6 – Oswalt v. Halladay

Say what you want about Oswalt, he’s had some really tough early season matchups. Roy Halladay did what Roy Halladay does, pitching a complete game 7-hitter while allowing a single run. That run came in the 6th inning when Chris Johnson, pinch-hitting for Oswalt, singled to start the inning. Michael Bourn followed with a bunt single putting two on for Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger grounded back to the pitcher, but Halladay threw it late (or away, it’s unclear) loading the bases with no one out. At this point, Cory Sullivan grounded into a double play, plating one run, (13/14) and allowing Halladay to escape with minimal damage when Carlos Lee popped out to end the inning. Philly never trailed in the game and went on to win 2-1. Note that all the Astros could manage was a run-scoring double-play following an error or a bad fielder’s choice.

Game 7 – No runs

Game 8 – Myers v. Penny

Michael Bourn singled to lead off the game. With Kaz Matsui batting, Yadier Molina attempted to pick Bourn off of first, but threw it into the outfield allowing him to reach second. He moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sac fly by Pedro Feliz. (14/14) And that’s all she wrote. This very easily could have been shut-out number four as Houston would only manage 3 more hits the entire game, and Bourn probably doesn’t score without the error on Molina.

To sum up, their first two runs were scored in garbage time off the back of the Giant bullpen. Run three involved a throwing error. Runs 4-5 scored on a backup outfielder’s only hit of the year so far. Run 6 scored on an infield single. Runs 7-11 all scored with 2 outs in the 3rd against Jamie Moyer, and involved the Astros only HRs of the year as well as a double by the pitcher. Run 12 scored in the 9th of the same game when they were down 9-5, though it did involve some actual good hitting. Run 13 scored on a double play ground out after a throwing error of some kind, and run 14 scored because of a throwing error by Yadier Molina.

The Brewers have had a pretty tough start, but just keep in mind that it could be worse.

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