Angels 11, Astros 5: Angels light fuse on Astros' bullpen implosion

Harry How

An eight-run seventh inning derails Astros chance against Angels.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Well, you're getting the good news first. The Astros had a five-run inning, and led tonight's game 5-2 through six innings. Houston held Mike Trout hitless tonight - 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Now the bad news, the Astros bullpen gave up eight runs in the seven inning.

Scott Feldman took the mound for the Astros Saturday, and he picked up his eighth quality start of the season. He allowed two runs on six hits - walking zero and striking out five.

The two early runs from the Angels were driven in by... Wait. I'll let you guess. I will give you one hint, neither were by Mike Trout. Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick. Pujols singled in Kole Calhoun for the first run of the game. Calhoun trotted home after singling, moving up on a wild pitch and a deep sac fly. In the fourth inning, Kendrick drove in Erick Aybar from second on a grounder to Jon Singleton. The ball had some backspin as it eluded Singleton's glove and rolled to Domingo Santana in right.

The lone offensive inning for the Astros happened in the third, L.J. Hoes singled to start of things off. Hoes would score from first on a long double by Jason Castro to right center. George Springer was hit in the ribs with a pitch to put two on, and Matt Dominguez singled to load the bases. Chris Carter took a 92-mph fastball on the outer third of the plate to dead center for a grand slam.

The Astros loaded the bases again in the fifth with one out. Jon Singleton proceeded to ground into a force play at home, and Enrique Hernandez ended the threat with a grounder to the shortstop for a force at second. The Astros would only get two more hits in the game after the fifth.

Now we move to the seven, oh the seventh. The implosion began shortly there after. (pour one out for the Kingdome)

The Astros used three pitchers (Anthony Bass, Tony Sipp, Josh Zeid) in the seventh inning, who threw 64 pitches in the inning alone. The Angels ran fourteen batters to the plate - they hit three home runs, one double, two singles, collected four walks, and scored eight runs. A few key facts, Mike Trout batted twice in the inning and failed to reach base. Albert Pujols hit is fifty-first home run off an Astros' pitcher in his career - each one twists the knife a little deeper. The Astros intentionally walked Howie Kendrick to face C. J. Cron, who hit the third home run of the inning. The Angels had four outs in the inning as Kole Calhoun reach base on a strikeout wild pitch - to load the bases before Mike Trout struck out to end the inning.

The Angels added another run the next inning, but it didn't matter. The Astros were only able to get a runner to second base on in the final four inning of the game. That is now six straight losses for the Astros.

***

At this point I would to steal two lines from the Dark Knight, "the night is darkest just before the dawn" and "you die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain." I feel both apply to the Astros at this point. Yes, the Astros have washed away all the good will from their play in May. Houston has razed the earth, built up a crop of young talent over the last three season. Did you think there weren't going to be growing pains when all the young kids came up? Yes, the front office's attempts to build in a veteran core to lower the necessary learning curve hasn't worked out completely. But, this is no time to sell the farm. Last year was about learning about the talent on the roster, now this season about learning what these prospects  bring to the tables.  Baseball is a game with a 162-game season, the good times will return.

As for the villain, at this point the questions about Bo Porter's handling of the bullpen are getting loader and loader. It's great when you can put Tony Sipp in left and it works out. In the less complex moments of the game, why is there no 'plan B' when a pitcher struggles? No pitchers warming up just in case? This front office has faith in Porter, and that's what matters. But, the show may be wearing thin with fans.

The Astros close out their four-game series with Angels tomorrow, game starts at 2:35 PM CT - McHugh vs Richards.

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