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Astros take the lead then lose it again. Astros 2 Nationals 7

Hunter Pence returned  triumphantly to drive in a run, in the top of the 5th inning. Only to have Nelson Figueora cough up the game in the sixth, and that was essentially game.

This is the first series loss for the Astros since the end of August, when they lost a three game series to the Mets. So the Astros are still a ways away from returning to their first half form. But maybe this is a good thing, injecting a dose of reality into next years chances of competing.

I've heard a lot of talk recently about signing a big name free agent and the Astros competing next year. While I'd love to see that, the truth is this team still has some re-tooling to do. The bullpen while deep, does have some issues. Wilton Lopez has been overworked, Matt Lindstrom needs to figure it out, studs like Alberto Arias and Sammy Gervacio are going to be coming off injury, Jeff Fulchino has not been as effective as last year.

The starting pitching has been outstanding, but put them up against the Phillies or even division rival Cardinals and you begin to realize to get a Championship some work, even in the rotation, still needs to be done. Sure those rotations can be beaten, but that requires and offense. The Astros do not have an offense. And a Carl Crawford signing isn't going to improve the offense by leaps and bounds.

There is hope! But that hope needs a dose of reality every once and a while, as well as some patience.