After a brutal road trip the Astros returned home Monday to start a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, the Astros continued to play the same lackluster brand of baseball they had displayed on their West Coast swing that featured one win mixed in among nine losses. The Reds took an early lead in this one and never looked back.
The slumping ‘Stros appeared as though they were just going through the motions. These guys look like they expect to lose. Fundamentals were not the specialty of the day at Minute Maid Park. The Astros left the bases loaded three times in the first five innings.
Jose Altuve and Chris Johnsoneach made physical errors by mishandling routine grounders. Although both errors occurred against batters leading off an inning, the Astros escaped both frames without allowing a run.
Marwin Gonzalez made a poor base-running decision when he tried to advance from first to second on a pitch that bounced only a few feet away from Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan. Gonzalez was thrown out by twenty feet to end the Astros sixth inning.
Wilton Lopez came in to pitch the seventh inning with the Astros trailing 3-2. Lopez allowed a couple of runs and was unable to get out of the inning. Justin Maxwell didn’t do Lopez any favors when he air-mailed the cutoff man on a single by Chris Heisey, allowing Heisey to advance to second without a throw. Heisey would eventually come around to score as well.
Enerio Del Rosario was brought into the game to experiment with a new sidearm delivery. It didn’t go well for Enerio. He gave up three hits in one inning pitched and allowed Brandon Phillips to steal third base without a throw.
This game had quickly turned into another laugher that was tough to watch. Most of the fans at the game shared my sentiment. By the eighth inning the stadium was practically empty. Chris Johnson was just about the only bright spot in four hours of misery. Johnson had four hits on the night , including his 20th double. Ben Francisco looked good defensively in leftfield and also had a couple of hits.
Right now this team is a reflection of their manager, lifeless and ambivalent. Mills has completely lost his grip on the team. I don’t think the players have any respect left for him. The way he’s been running the team it’s almost as if Mills is asking to be fired. I can’t see him lasting much longer. I’d be surprised if he makes it through the homestand.