The Astros game last night, and their series thus far with the Rangers, is their reply to the eternal question, posed by the immortal poet Ludacris, “How Low Can You Go?” (warning: explicit lyrics, I think)
Lower than the Rangers apparently, a depth once thought unplumbable.
The Astros have lost the last two games to the Rangers by a combined score of 18-5. The Rangers, “who are proof that even the failure is bigger in Texas,” who came to Minute Maid having lost 8 of their last 9, 11 of their last 13, 16 of their last 20 games. Yes the Rangers, who even lost a series to the Baltimore bleepin Orioles. And that’s the answer to the question “How low can you go?” Because the Astros have just lost a series to the team that lost a series to the Orioles, the team who just came to Houston 25 games behind the Astros.
The Astros have managed 5 runs and 11 hits in two games against a pitching staff that in the week prior had an 8.68 ERA, that had just given up 41 runs and 53 hits in their last series with the Oakland A’s. The Astros could not score on yesterday’s starter, who came into the game with a season ERA of 7.18. Tonight the Astros could muster only one run in six innings against the fresh face from AA, Ariel Jurado, a pitcher who since June 1st in AA has a 4.21 ERA. On July 7th , the Astros’ own AA Corpus Christi Hooks managed more hits and more runs against Jurado than the big boys got tonight. Big Boys indeed.
Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, 6 for 10, 3 RBI and 2 home runs, and Roughned (Stinky) Odor, 5 for 5, 2 home runs, 2 RBI, had as many hits, as many RBI, and more home runs by themselves, than the rest of the Astros combined.
Besides how low can you go, the most important question of our times might be: “Who the Hell is Kiner- Falefa.”
But maybe not as important as “What happened to the Best Bullpen in Baseball?”
Last night the bullpen surrendered 8 runs in 4 innings. Former All Star Chris Devenski gave up five runs without getting a single out. In his previous outing he gave up three without getting a single out.
I guess I should feel hopeful, tonight was actually an improvement. The pen only allowed 5 runs in 4 innings. The latest bullpen savior, Ryan Pressly, just off the plane from Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average, was quickly initiated into the bullpen fraternity by giving up a home run to his very first hitter as an Astro. But only after falling behind the hitter 3-0 of course. The Ken Giles replacement indeed.
Oh, you say that home run was to Odor? Can’t you smell that smell.
But not to be outdone, and just to show the new initiate how it’s really done around here, the latest iteration of an Astro “closer,” Hector Rondon, gave up four runs in the ninth. His ERA actually went up one whole point in just this one game, to 2.41. He did manage to get three outs, which still leaves Devenski in sole possession of the “how low can a reliever go against the Rangers award.”
And those four runs actually mattered, because in the bottom of the ninth George Springer, who hit a solo home run earlier, led off with a single, followed by an Alex Bregman home run. If not for the Rondon meltdown, the score would have been tied, and then some other relief ace could have blown the game in extra innings.
Another loss credited to Justin Verlander (10-6) in a game he pitched well enough to win.
Not to be left out, the fielders made their own outstanding contribution to tonight’s effort, adding three errors to the constellation of achievements this series.
Oh, but there’s help on the farm. Oh wait, Kyle (Ted) Tucker’s hitting .143. That’s below the Marisnick line. In La La land the Angels just promoted a certain Francisco Arcia who in his first two games is 5 for 8, with 2 home runs and 10 RBI. Now THAT would be some help from the farm.
Don’t hate me Astros fans. I know the Stros are still in first place, and even champions have their down times during the dog days. Why even last year's NL Champions the Dodgers lost a ton of games in a row late last summer. They did pretty good. No one loves the Astros more than me, and when they’re heroes I will shout for joy. But when they stink, I’ll tell it like it is. They're not playing too well these last few days. And I get really grouchy when my Stros are humiliated by the Mall Cops of South Oklahoma. And Altuve is on the DL. And no Correa yet. Damn. It’ll be alright, I know.
At least this happened.
Tomorrow Lance McCullers faces Mike Minor at Minute Maid Park, 1:10 CDT.
Box Score and videos here.