For the young people in the TCB fam, this is a famous line from the 70’s era comedy Airplane. The glue sniffer is an air traffic controller trying to get a pilotless plane to land safely.
Now that the Astros are in a real race for the Division Title and the pressure’s on, it seems like the Astros pitching staff has decided it’s the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
Or the wrong month
The mainstay of the Astros’ championship team of 2022, the pitching, has collapsed. In the last 30 days, the team ERA is 21st in MLB at 4.77. Not elite, MF.
In the last seven days, the Astros are 19th, at 4.50. And most of those games were against the A’s and the Royals, the worst teams in baseball.
Against the potential playoff competitor, the Orioles, the Astros have given up 17 runs in two days.
In today’s game, a 9-5 loss, the Astros scored enough runs to win fairly comfortably in front of last year’s staff. Today, the Astros had 10 hits and three home runs, one each by Kyle Tucker (28), Alex Bregman (24), and — what a surprise —Yainier Diaz (23). Jose Altuve, Diaz, and Mauricio Dubon each had two hits. However, the Astros were only 2-12 with runners in scoring position. But can you expect any team to score ten runs on any given night?
And speaking of a bad week to stop sniffing glue, what happened to Yordan Alvarez in this series: 0-8.
But back to the pitching. Starter Hunter Brown allowed seven earned runs in 5.1 innings with two homers. Jose Urquidy, the ostensible replacement for —take your pick — Brown, J.P. France, or Cristian Javier, came in for Brown in the sixth and seventh innings and allowed two earned runs in 1.1 innings with two homers.
Bennet Sousa, picked up on waivers earlier this month, was the only bright spot on the staff, pitching 1.2 scoreless innings. It’s pretty bad when your best pitcher is someone no other team wanted.
It’s hard to see how this situation gets any better before the season ends. Framber Valdez has returned to form after a mid-season slump. But Justin Verlander is not much better than a BOR starter at this point, and after that, the Astros do not have even one pitcher qualified to start in major league games, much less in high-leverage playoff-type games.
In his last five starts, France has a 8.87 ERA. In his last eight starts, Javier’s ERA is 5.87, with peripherals that are even worse. And including tonight, Brown’s ERA is 7.13 in his last eight starts.
Assuming the Mariners hold on to beat the A’s, the Astros maintain a 1⁄2 game lead over both Texas and Seattle for the AL West title. If the Astros don’t win the AL West, they are currently a half game behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card race.
Something tells me that the glue-sniffing Astros are not going to take this airplane out of its nosedive.
Tomorrow, the Astros try to avert a sweep against the Orioles and descent from position for a playoff berth behind Cristian Javier.
Game time 1:30 CT.
I’ll be reporting from the game.