I"ve been remiss with the game recaps the past two days. Saturday, it was because I was cooking up a mess of our mascot over there (crawfish) and didn't get to see a minute of that disaster. I watched it on MLB.TV afterwards, but the outcome didn't change.
The Astros pitching has officially joined the offense in falling apart. These aren't the 70's-era Reds, with Johnny Bench, Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan and Pete Rose. They might as well be, though, since this 2010 Reds team has scored 27 runs on 37 hits in two games. For comparison's sake, the Astros have scored 27 runs in their last nine games combined.
Of course, we all figured Saturday might be ugly. After all, the Astros planned on starting Brian Moehler but using a starter-by-bullpen approach, where no one pitched many innings. Wesley Wright, fresh from Triple-A, was also expected to see action. Where are all those people saying Moehler should be in the starting rotation now? I realize it's not fair to use one game against someone. Sample sizes and all that aside, Moehler isn't making the Astros measurably better. Yes, he should perform better than this in the short-term, but if Houston is going to get beat 12-2 routinely, I'd rather it be Norris on the losing end of those games. At least I can realistically hope he can get better.
Clack had a bad feeling about this series coming in, but it's been much, much worse than expected. Do you realize the best pitcher on the 2009 Astros team gave up eight runs Friday night? And might be secretly hurt but not telling anyone? Let's think about this...Wandy just went through a contentious arbitration hearing with Houston. The Astros haven't seemed willing to sign him to a long-term extension. He's basically pitching on a one-year contract, with his 2011 salary entirely dependent on performance. Would you want to tell anyone about an injury? No, you'd gut it out and hope it didn't affect your performance too much.
The other frustrating thing about this Astros team right now is the hitting. It seems like only one player can be hot at the same time. If El Bufalo is getting hits (he had two doubles Saturday), then Berkman and Pence are going 0-fer. If Pence is hitting home runs like crazy, then the rest of the lineup is falling down. This is a team that's been pressing for two solid months.
It gets worse. This Astros team could be the worst since 1991. You might remember that team as the one that nabbed the first overall pick for the Astros. They went 65-97 that season, one off the lowest win total in franchise history. This season, the Astros are on a pace to win just 54 games. To get to 65 wins, they need to play .428 baseball the rest of the way, winning 48 of 112 games. That seems easy enough until you look at their current winning percentage (.333).
Back in 1991, the Astros were 18-29 at the end of May. A six game losing streak at the end of the month dropped them to 18-33 by the June 5. Still, that team had only one starter over the age of 30, Casey Candaele. Jim Deshaies was the oldest starting pitcher at 31. The rest of the team were young guys like rookie Jeff Bagwell, WAR leader Steve Finley or Best Name winner Tuffy Rhodes. The difference between that team and this one is palpable.
Thank goodness for Felipe Paulino on Sunday. If the Astros can salvage something out of this weekend, the big flamethrower has to pull off a perfect game. Those seem to be easy to get in 2010.