Whenever I’m watching the Astros on TV, and the Astros are blowing out the opposition, my son always says the Astros are wasting runs. He knows it bothers me, so I stopped arguing a long time ago.
Maybe he’s right. It’s a long season these baseball players play, many seasons within the season, many cycles, slumps and streaks. It was inevitable that the screaming bats that have carried the Astros for so much of 2019 would go a little quiet for a while, and that appears to have happened this week. Maybe they should have saved some of their runs from last week.
In the period from May 8th to May 15, the Astros scored 66 runs in eight games, over 8 runs per game. They won all eight games. Since May 17th, the team has scored 35 runs in ten games, 3.5 runs per game. They are 6-4 during this quieter period, as one would expect. In fact, one might expect even fewer wins with just three and a half runs per game.
In our last Astros trending we noted that from May 9th through May 23rd, the Astros team wRC+ was 145, first in the league. But in the last seven days it is 99, almost exactly average, and 9th in the league during this period.
Is George Springer this important to the Astros, or is the recent demise just a coincidence?
That 99 wRC+ does not include today’s game. The Astros managed only four hits today, and luckily they bunched two of them in the first inning to create the only run for the Astros all day. Aledmys Diaz, after a lead-off single, scored two outs later on a Carlos Correa single deflected by Rafael Devers.
It was a close play at the plate, and Diaz left the game, apparently re-injuring his hamstring. Status at this time is unknown.
Meanwhile the Red Sox nibbled away at Astros starter Justin Verlander. In the third, after singles by Steve Pearce and Eduardo Nunez, both very fluky infield hits to Alex Bregman that could have been outs, Andrew Benintendi scored Pearce with a sac fly to Jake Marisnick.
In the fourth red-hot Rafael Devers homered off Verlander for the Sox’s second run. Devers was 6 for 8 in the series with a double and a home run. The homer was his seventh of the year and he is batting .330.
Some sloppy fielding reminiscent of the Red Sox in the first game of the series contributed to the one run scored in the fifth. Eduardo Nunez doubled, followed by a run producing error by second baseman Yuli Gurriel, subbing for Diaz. But despite another error that put Mookie Betts on first and Andrew Benintendi on third with one out, Verlander managed to hold the damage to one run.
For the game Verlander went seven innings, allowed three earned runs, six hits, no walks, and struck out six Red Sox. His season ERA is 2.38.
Josh James replaced Verlander in the eighth, allowing two base runners, but escaping with no runs thanks to two strikeouts.
Framber Valdez came in in the ninth and allowed a run on no hits in typical Framber style. In fact, he discovered even more creative variations on Framberizing. After allowing a one out walk, he then balked Jackie Bradley to second base. Bradley took third on what was scored a passed ball, but clearly Valdez missed the sign and crossed up his catcher. Bradley would then score on a soft ground ball to second. Because of the passed ball ruling the run was considered unearned. Call it a Framber run.
Despite all my bitching and complainin about recent run production, mostly in the absence of George Springer and Jose Altuve, the Astros took two out of three from the reigning Champs, and four out of six in the season series. The Red Sox don’t want to see the Astros again if and when they are at full strength.
One of the few offensive bright spots of the afternoon, a Bregman double.
There’s a new Astro in town, catcher Garret Stubbs, replacing injured Max Stassi. Here’s an interview.
Garrett Stubbs has a great story on how he let his parents know he was heading to the big leagues. pic.twitter.com/v6tSkR8Bdp— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 26, 2019
Big Memorial Day series tomorrow with our old friends, the Chicago Cubs.
Cole Hamels, who has been pitching well (4-0, 3.38 ERA), faces Gerrit Cole, (4-5, 4.11 ERA).
Game time 1:10 CDT
Box score and videos HERE.