Astros Weekend In Review

Bob Levey

Demotions, extra-inning losses, closer blowups and a near no-hitter were the lowlights of a four-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers.

It's a tough time to be an Astros fan. Even as someone who was prepared for the brutality of the American League, seeing it in real time is disheartening. No one expected this team to be good, but could we have predicted three-fifths of the rotation would be bounced by May 6?

In case you missed the weekend's Astros action, here's a recap. Be careful, though. It's not pretty.

Bedard, Humber out of rotation

Well, only one of these is true with any certainty right now. Erik Bedard was bounced out of the rotation before Sunday's game, but the Astros have yet to name his rotation replacement.

Meanwhile, Philip Humber was bombed again and pitching coach Doug Brocail kept asking him if his arm hurt because of the drop in his velocity. In his most recent start, Humber's average fastball velocity was down to 89.3 mph, which is about 1.2 mph slower than his average fastball in 2012.

Houston will use its off-day today to evaluate Humber's spot in the rotation and if they need to make an upgrade there. That could mean calling up someone from Triple-A, but it could also mean slotting in one of the long relief guys already on the roster.

Either way, Houston has already lost 40 percent of its Opening Day rotation by May 6, not through injuries but through ineffectiveness, and may lose 60 percent very soon.

Jose Veras loses it

To top off the injury woes, closer Jose Veras got a chance to nail down a 3-2 win for Houston on Friday night. Instead, Veras snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, giving up a leadoff walk and then a two-run home run to give the Tigers a 4-3 victory.

Veras looked great Thursday, striking out all four batters he faced. However, the streaky right-hander has a history for inconsistency that seems to have cropped up here. We can only wonder if he'd be better with more regular work.

Miguel Cabrera goes off

The Tigers third baseman blasted two home runs on Saturday, leading Tim to wonder what Houston's official 2013 theme song might be. Lots of great suggestions rolled in on Twitter. My favorite?


Verlander almost no-hits Houston

Finally, the Tigers almost added insult to injury, as the second-best pitcher in the game right now nearly no-hit Houston. Justin Verlander mowed through Houston's lineup, striking out nine in seven innings of work while giving up two hits and two walks.

Verlander took his no-hitter into the seventh before Carlos Pena shot a single into right field to break things up. Pena was 1 for 3 with a walk in the game with Carlos Corporan picking up Houston's other hit.

Houston had a chance to win both of the opening games in this four-game series, but lost them both and are now in the midst of a six-game losing streak. The Astros have also lost 10 of their last 11 games.

I told you it hasn't been pretty.

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