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Game Recap: Astros Hitting Drought Continues. Lose Series and Game 3 in Arlington 4-0

Umpire Ron Kulpa expels Astros coach Alex Cintron and Manager AJ Hinch

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The burning question after this game is: who was worse, the umpire, or the Astros hitters? Hmmmm. Ump?... Hitters?... Ump?.... Hitters?

Let’s start with the umpire.

If you saw the game you know what I mean. If you didn’t do not assume this is just bitter homerism speaking. This writer was an umpire. I don’t like criticizing umpires because 1. it’s useless whining, and 2. I know how hard umpiring is.

But tonight was so bad, so consistently wrong, over and over again, and we can see the exact pitch location on the TV feed, that it is not crazy to think it was intentional. Here is the call that started it all.

Pitch #5 was strike three to Joey Gallo, but umpire Ron Kulpa called it ball 3. Gallo eventually walked. Yet over and over again pitches resembling pitches number 2 and 6 were called strikes on the Astros.

Astros players began complaining from the dugout, and Kulpa threw coach Alex Cintron from the game. Kulpa kept looking into the Astros dugout between pitches, apparently looking for some kind of confrontation, and eventually Manager AJ Hinch came out to talk to Kulpa, resulting in his expulsion as well. Here is what transpired.

After pitching his last pitch in the sixth inning, Gerrit Cole, who had clearly been suppressing his exasperation all game, had a few words of his own with tonight’s umpire.

And yet, as bad as the umpire was, I must say in all honesty that it probably didn’t matter much. Oh sure, having to guess where the strike zone is doesn’t help a team already struggling for hits, but clearly this team has no confidence right now. Bad umpire or no, the Astros are as desperate for hits and runs as a thirsty man baking in the desert is for a drop of water.

The Astros came into Arlington facing a pitching staff which, in its first three games, had surrendered 28 runs. Facing the Rangers’ four and five starters the Astros could only muster 6 runs. Tonight, going against Mike Minor and several so-so relievers, they could not score a single run, even though the same Mike Minor allowed six runs in four innings on Opening Day.

The Astros have scored 15 runs in seven games. They came into this game with a .237 BA, but only a .100 average with RISP. Tonight they only got two runners into scoring position, and stranded both.

Their record is now 2 and 5. The last time the Astros started a season that poorly was 2013. Does anyone who reads this website need to be reminded how bad the Astros were in 2013. Hint: Their best player was Jason Castro.

Pitching at least was very good again, probably better than the four earned runs would indicate.

In the first inning Astros nemesis Elvis Andrus hit a single and stole second. With two outs Nomar Mazara hit a weak ground ball into the shift that Jose Altuve had to charge from right field. Mazara beat the throw, and Andrus scored from second.

In the fourth inning Joey Gallo walked with one out, and with two outs our old friend Hunter Pence singled Gallo home with a single down the right field line. Pence would then score on a well-hit Ronald Guzman double to center.

Here’s Josh Reddick robbing Pence of a hit earlier in the game

Cole finished the game allowing three earned runs in six innings, allowing 4 hits, 3 walks and whiffing 9 Rangers.

The final Rangers run came in the eighth. After Josh James had retired five straight Rangers, Nomar Mazara got to James with a home run to center. James later got the final out on the Rangers, finishing with two innings, allowing one run and 4 K’s

Tomorrow is an off day for the Astros, who take on the A’s at home on Friday

Box score and videos HERE