Astros Don't Enjoy Their Fourth of July

Carlos Lee shown, in today's game. He is on his way to Miami. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The Astros forgot to bring their fireworks to their July 4th picnic with the Pirates. The Pirates made up for it by tossing a few firecrackers at the Stros. The Astros lost in Pittsburgh, 6-4.

J.D. Martinez hit a solo HR to start the 9th inning, but that wasn't enough to move the needle close to winning. The Astros had an initial 2-0 lead after the top of the 2d, but the Pirates tiook a 1 run lead in the bottom of the inning. The Pirates and Astros traded runs in the 4th and 5th inning, which kept the game close until the 7th inning, when the Pirates expanded their lead to 6-3. The Astros' hitters then went down quietly until Martinez's HR. This is the 7th loss in a row for the Astros, who are now closing in on their longest losing streak of the season (8).

The Astros' play was lackluster enough that the most exciting thing in the game occurred when Lowrie and Lee were removed late in the game. Given the trade chatter that we have heard, naturally speculation arose about the possibility of a trade for one or both players. As I write this, we don't have solid information on the reason for either player being removed. However, the rumor of a Marlins-Astros trade involving Lee seems to have a few threads of support. Buster Olney tweeted that the Astros and Marlins were negotiating. But broadcasters were reporting that Carlos Lee's locker was cleaned out and he is headed to Miami. Lowrie, it turns out, was not removed for trade reasons.

MISTAKES

This game was particularly frustrating for Astros' fans, because the Astros made a number of mental mistakes that cost them. Schafer was late on throws to the infield which allowed runners to advance. Schafer was subsequently removed from the game, with Mills admitting that his "behavior is not what we needed." J.D. Martinez, with a throw to home plate, and Jose Altuve combined for some bad decisions. In the 2d, after an RBI single, followed by Martinez's misjudgement to throw to home plate, the ball went to Altuve who tried to tag out Barmes, but the tag attempt allowed an additional runner to score. Martinez also got tagged out at 3d base in the 2d on some questionable base running. Matt Downs came in to replace Lee, and he committed a critical error in the 7th inning when the Pirates expanded their lead.

PITCHING

This was not a good outing for Dallas Keuchel, but we shouldn't have been expecting that he would continue his sub-2 ERA performances. He lasted 5.2 innings and gave up 7 hits with 4 BB and 2 Ks. The 4 walks are particularly a problem for Keuchel, since he is a control pitcher and cannot survive with a lot of walks. The best thing that can be said is that Keuchel limited the damage and didn't go into a full blown melt down. Keuchel was optioned back to AAA after the game, with Enerio del Rosario, a reiiever returning to the roster. It's worth noting that Keuchel can be recalled after 10 days, which includes the All Star Break.

F-Rod, Abad, and Carpenter were used in relief. F-Rod was effective in getting the Astros out of jam. Abad was relatively effective, but the one hit he allowed drove in 2 runs in the 7th. The error by Downs, prior to the hit, didn't help with that situation. All in all, he struck out 2 and walked no batters in 1.2 innings.

OFFENSE

Scott Moore, J.D. Martinez, and Brian Bogusevic were the hitting heroes with 2 hits each. As noted earlier, Martinez hit a HR. Moore has looked like a player in his brief time with the Astros.

EDIT UPDATE: Breaking News....Carlos Lee traded to the Marlins for AAA Third Baseman Dominguez and AA Pitcher Rasmussen. Stats Here and Here.

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