Wednesday's heartbreaking walk-off loss at the hands of Seattle's Kyle Seager led to plenty of attention about Bo Porter going with Josh Fields in the ninth inning. It was Fields' third day in a row on the mound and he managed to get only one out before surrendering Seager's three-run bomb.
But in defense of Fields, that home run should've tied the game or even only brought the Mariners closer. Instead, the Astros managed only three runs off Seattle starter Chris Young who struggled with his command all afternoon. Houston was 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left nine guys on the base paths.
The Astros are now 1-14 when scoring three runs or less. And if you don't want to do the math, they are 6-1 when scoring four or more.
Porter's club is currently slashing a horrid .200/.270/.357. The Astros are not going to hit .200 for the 2014 season. The phrase that has been used commonly is that the Astros will "regress to the mean", meaning Houston will eventually end up somewhere back closer to the league average.
Yesterday, Grantland's Jonah Keri chronicled the slump that the entire league seems to be mired in. The current league average is .248. If that would hold for the entire season, which is unlikely, it would be the lowest since 1971.
Keri points to increased strikeout totals and defensive shifts, an area Houston is leading the charge in, as the reasons for the lack of hitter success.
Now back to the Astros. They will start to have more success with the bats, especially since they currently carry an MLB-worst .233 batting average on balls in play.
The Astros could reasonably get back to a .240 average like they had in 2013, which was 13 points less than the league average. But it appears that even .240 will be difficult since a third of the teams in the league aren't over that mark. The regression back to the mean will happen, but that mean is much lower than it has been in a long time.
Houston is going to need to learn how win close, low-scoring games. So far, they've been horrible at it.