For those of you keeping score at home, the Astros are now 19/34 in save opportunities. Their fifteen blown saves ties them, surprisingly, with the Dodgers for second worst in baseball. Defending NL saves leader Jose Valverde is only 6/10 in converting save opportunities this season. He has blown those four saves, yes, but he hasn't pitched poorly this season. His rate stats and ERA indicate as much. Sample size, as much as anything, may be factoring in here. Regardless, a win yesterday would have pushed the Astros a half game ahead of the Cubs, and left the team only one half game back of the Cincinnati Reds for third place in the NL Central. St. Louis and Milwaukee both lost yesterday. Division races often times come down to one or two games, and games in June are worth just as much as games in September.
Brandon Inge's 2 out home run cost the Astros one such game yesterday. Hopefully it won't come down to one game like that, but the Astros have had two losses like this last week. A game over .500 is where the Astros should be right now, if not for blown saves. Cincinnati is a team that isn't playing superb baseball, but they're outproducing their pythagorean record by a game, due in no small part to the fact that as a team they've blown only four save opportunities.
On a happier note, as the Astros just missed sweeping a team, the Cubs lost a series against the cross town rival White Sox. Lost a series to a team with Scott Podsednik as a starting outfielder. That should take some of the bitter taste of our Sunday loss out of your mouth. If it doesn't, this quote from White Sox manager Ozzie may help. When asked by a reporter why attendance was so low at Comiskey Park for the White Sox series against the LA Dodgers, but rebounded over the weekend in their series against the Cubs, Guillen quipped:
It's been said before, but Ozzie was a bit more comedic in his way of stating that Cubs' fans would still come out to watch their team no matter how disfunctional/bad/cursed their club may be.
Padres up next...for what it's worth, San Diego closer Heath Bell has converted 21/22 save opps.