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Astros Return to H-Town. Forget Bats in Chi-Town

Home Hoodoo Continues. Halos Hex Astros 2-0

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, hoodoo’s a word. It means jinx, hex, black magic etc. It’s why a team that just scored 27 runs in three games in the cold and windy city comes home and can’t conjure a run. Can’t buy, beg, borrow or steal a run against a tired staff that has surrendered 42 runs in its last 6 games.

But this hoodoo thing isn’t just a ghost story. At least not so far in 2018. Away from Minute Maid Park the Astros are the third best team in MLB, slugging at .801 OPS. At home they are an anemic .636, third from the worst. And that’s before tonight’s game!

What a shame. They wasted another fine pitching performance from Gerrit Cole, who completed 7 innings, allowed 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 runs. He fanned 8. His ERA now sits at 1.29 for the season in 5 starts. He leads the league in strikeouts. He is the only player in history to start the season with 5 starts, completing 7 innings in each of them, with 5 or fewer hits in each, 2 or fewer runs in each, and 5 or more strikeouts in each of the five.

He was tonight’s losing pitcher. His record sits at 2-1 for the season.

It is the eighth straight game in which the Astros’ pitching staff has surrendered 2 or fewer runs.

The Astros’ bullpen again acquitted itself proudly, with Hector Rondon and Colin McHugh hurling scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.

Angels scoring came in the fifth on a single by former Astro Luis Valbuena, who advanced to second on a walk to Zack Cozart. Kole Calhoun, batting .188, hit a weak roller through the 4 hole just past Yuli Gurriel to score Calhoun.

In the sixth Mike Trout, who reached first on a single and then stole second, scored on a double to deep center by Justin Upton.

The Astros, who were held to seven hits by Angels starter and winning pitcher Tyler Skaggs, never mounted a serious challenge until the eighth inning. With 2 outs, George Springer smacked a solid single to center, followed by Jose Altuve’s second single of the game. But the Astros’ hottest bat, Carlos Correa, struck out to Justin Anderson, a Houston native pitching his first big league game. Inning over. Hoodoo.

The ninth inning started even more promisingly, as the first two batters, Yuli Gurriel and Alex Bregman got on base. But the the ghouls returned, and the next two batters, Marwin Gonzalez and Evan Gattis, struck out to closer Keynan Middleton. Then, with Max Stassi pinch hitting, the game ended when Gurriel was thrown out at third trying to advance on a ball past the catcher. Ignominious end to an inglorious defeat.

The Astros are in first place in the AL West, just a half game in front to the visiting Angels. Let’s conjure some nicer spirits for the game against Shohei Ohtani today. Game time 7:10.

Box score here

Question: Why have Astros bats been so weak at home this year?