It’s not a good sign when the Astros hit four home runs, score eight runs—and lose. Help for the pitching staff, starting rotation, bullpen, help wanted, immediate openings, ASAP.
Gerrit Cole was stricken by the home run bug yet again, a contagious malady apparently, as the Astros staff has allowed the 4th most homers in the AL, despite being #2 in strikeouts. Cole himself has allowed 20 home runs this season, 7th worst in the AL, but still better than teammate Justin Verlander, whose 26 home runs allowed makes him the lead leaguer in this dubious category.
For the game the the Rangers hit five, so not only did the Rangers out score the Astros, they out-homered them too. The pitiful Stros could only muster four home runs; one by Jose Altuve, yet another by red-hot Yuli Gurriel, and the first two home run night in his career for Yordan Alvarez. Can’t get enough of his video.
Despite the homeritis, the Astros staff remains second in the AL in ERA, but just barely surpassing the Twins. For the two-week period they are sixth, but the 4.63 ERA during that time supports the theory that the home run bug is a bit of bad luck, as xFIP and SIERA are almost a run lower.
Despite Cole’s allowing four runs in six innings, the main culprit for last night’s loss was the bullpen, which allowed five runs in three innings. Will Harris has suddenly become shaky, allowing five runs and six hits in his last 2.1 innings, including two last night on a home run. Hector Rondon did his part in the Astros’ home run charity event last night, giving up two runs on his dinger. But given a tie score in the ninth inning, Roberto Osuna could not find the command of his secondary pitches, and with two hits and a walk in the bottom of the ninth, the Rangers walked off their second straight win of the series.
Thankfully, an old war horse returns to the pen tonight after a season long absence recovering from an Achilles tendon injury; Joe Smith.
Now, the Astros have to beat the Rangers’ ace, All-Star Mike Minor (8-4, 2.54 ERA), if they hope to salvage even a split in this series. Wade Miley (7-4, 3.28 ERA) is the answer for the Astros.
Two good pitchers. Minor is second in the AL in ERA whereas Miley is 8th, just behind Gerrit Cole. According to peripheral stats both are over-achieving, although Minor more so than Wiley. Minor’s xFIP is actually higher than Wiley’s, 4.43 to 4.34, so maybe the Astros’ home run bats can find the barrel to Minor’s pitches that he has luckily been able to avoid against other teams all year.
Here’s the lineup. Game time 7:05