It was all or nothing for the Astros in this four game series with the Twins in Minnesota. Unfortunately, it was all in just one game, and nothing in the other three.
The Astros scored a respectable total of 15 runs in Minnesota in this four game series, same as the Twins. But eleven of those runs were scored in just one game, which happened to be the one game when Astros pitching managed to shut out the Twins’ bats. The Astros bats were deafeningly silent the rest of the series, as the surprising Twins took three out of four from the Astros in the Springtime tundra of Minnesota.
Depth in starting pitching is emerging as a concern as well, as both Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock got shelled rather mercilessly in their appearances this series. Peacock could only get through 3.2 innings, allowing seven earned runs, including a home run to Jason Castro, a triple, and three doubles. His ERA now sits at 5.28 for the season. Consistency appears to be a problem. In seven games Peacock has three in which he allowed three or more runs in short stints, and has allowed one or less in the other four. Today’s shellacking in the fourth inning, in which Peacock allowed a walk, two singles, three doubles, a triple and six runs, was his worst meltdown of the season.
Meanwhile Collin McHugh’s ERA sits at 4.97 after he allowed four runs in six innings yesterday. McHugh and Peacock were counted on to fill the void left by the departures of Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, and Lance McCullers. With top prospect Forrest Whitley so far starting to look like he may be a year away, and with the struggles of Josh James, are the Astros starting to regret not signing one of Keuchel or Morton?
And although the Astro have the highest wRC+ in MLB at 122, they are 15th in runs scored and ultimately, isn’t that the offensive statistic that decides whether a team wins or loses? With runners in scoring position the Astros are hitting .237, 21st in baseball.
Today the Astros were 1-7 with RISP, although they did manage one run via an Alex Bregman second inning home run, and another on a Tony Kemp sac fly in the seventh inning. That came with one out after the Astros had loaded the bases with no outs. It was only run produced in that rally.
Although the Astros did manage eight hits today, Jose Altuve did not get on base. Since his magnificent home run barrage in mid-April, from April 20th-April 30th, in 45 PA’s, Altuve has hit .108, with a .483 OPS. In fairness his BABIP during that time has been .094.
During the same period Yuli Gurriel has been hitting .111, with a .274 OPS and .133 BABIP.
Credit to winning pitcher Jose Berrios, whose performance against the Astros today, two earned runs in seven innings, was in line with his sub-three ERA so far this year.
There were some bright spots. Here’s Bregs’ homer.
And think how much worse it could have been for Peacock without this play by Josh Reddick.
After the chill in Minnesota, in the air and on their bats, the Astros most likely welcome a trip to the tropical climes of Monterey, Mexico, to take on the Angels of Anaheim for two games, Saturday and Sunday. That’s right, Friday off. It will be the only sub-.500 team the Astros have played all year at the time they played them.
Despite the disappointing trip to Minnesota, the Astros remain one game ahead of the slumping Mariners for the lead in the AL West.
We’ll see back on Saturday. See you then.