Well, enjoy the runs while they lasted. If you don’t score runs, you aren’t going to win, and the Astros streak of games in which they score atleast 3 runs has come to close at 7. Sure three runs doesn’t sound impressive, but, for a team that has stretches in which the offense is anemic and lucky to put a crooked number of hits on the board, three runs can give a pitcher some sense of confidence. A quality start is only going out and throwing at least 6 innings and not permitting more than 3 runs, and ideally, that is what you want out of your starters, especially you’re 1-3 in the rotation. Therefore, if your team goes out and put three runs on the board, your pitcher has the thought going in his mind that the game is not riding on his shoulders, but rather that he is keeping his team in the game and the offense will eventually pick the team (and himself) up for the win…
If you fail to get those three runs, your pitcher is forced to carry more responsibility than what is necessary. This causes pitchers to have added on stress and pressure, and small errors, such as walking a batter or two, become magnified and small road bumps may turn into blow up innings. For young pitchers like Wandy (keep in mind his has only had one year in which he maintained solid numbers through out), you want to keep these stressful innings and games to a minimum so that he knows what he has to do in order to set his team up for a win, rather than take the load every time he pitches and feel the need to do more than what is in his skill set. Granted, Wandy did rather well tonight, only allowing 3 ER over the course of 7 innings and retired the last 7 batters he faced, but the Wandy I know usually self destructs when the team doesn’t provide.
So what am I rambling about? Had Wandy gone out there tonight and allowed 7 ER, is it entirely his fault? My vote is no. Pitchers need that feeling on the mound of confidence and part of that equation for confidence is a decent showing from the offense. End Rant.
Tonight was an interesting night from the stand point of seeing what the breaking point was for the Astros on their quest for scrappy victories. Michael Bourn failed to get on base with zero outs in the inning, and in the previous four games, he scored three times in the first inning (an inning in which he obviously leads off). When Bourn is on base with no outs, Keppy does a good job of moving him to second if he doesn’t take the liberty of swiping the bag. This generally sets up a small ball run in an early inning, and it also jump starts the offense. I know MB can’t decide when to lead off innings and that it’s not something I can blame on him, but it does hurt the Astros when does not get on base to start an inning or with zero outs.
Berkman ended his six game hitting streak tonight which is significant since we won 5 of those 6 ball games. Lance proceeded to raise his average 40 points over the course of those six games, and he seemed to be a spark plug for the offense. Once again, do I blame Lance? No, you can’t expect him to go out every night and record a hit, but you can see how the team almost lives and dies off his bat. And Carlos Lee in this situation is Delaware since however Berkman performs, he is sure to replicate.
The Astros are a team that needs more than one thing to go there way to record a win, and tonight was proof. Even though they got a decent start from Wandy, they were unable to convert at the plate and give themselves a chance to win. More than one cylinder will need to be running for success to be possible.
Tomorrow night, Brian “I am just as shocked as you are that I’m a pro” Moehler faces off against a Jeff Francis that is still looking to get on track this season after starting it on the DL. Moehler looks to add another quality start to the 2010 year, but don’t look for lightening to strike twice in the same spot or for the cart lady to drive by more than once on one round of golf. Look for the Astros to score early so that they can get that confidence up in the pitcher by taking advantage of small ball as quickly as possible. Damn the humidors in Colorado. Long live Todd Helton and Todd Helton’s beard.