Bo Porter addressed this is after Saturday night’s loss to the Royals. However, after watching Sunday’s game, it appeared that his words fell on deaf ears.
After all of the success we saw the Astros have the past few weeks, that has ended. The 2-0 loss to the Royals yesterday afternoon not only completed a sweep in Kansas City, but also a stretch where Houston’s bats have been pretty dormant.
Now don’t get me wrong, nobody expected the Astros to continue dominating teams. But, it is also troubling to go from scoring 11 runs, including six home runs, while beating the Orioles last week in one game to scoring only five runs total in the next four games.
This is not a new problem that the Astros hitters have encountered this season, and it is also troubling to me. When things haven’t gone well for the Astros, they have failed to show the ability to bounce back and rally. However, unlike earlier in the season when the pitchers were putting the team in a hole, starting pitching has not been an issue the last four games.
Aside from Erik Bedard giving up six runs and not getting out of the fifth inning on Saturday night, the Astros starters have enjoyed continued success. The problem though, is the team’s approach at the plate, or lack thereof.
Saturday’s game is the perfect example of this, and also is what specifically spurred Porter to speak out. Granted the Royals had Bedard’s number, but there was a huge disparity in the number of pitches seen by the two teams.
The Royals saw 149 pitches in eight innings, while the Astros only saw 112 pitches in nine innings. In the American League especially, games are never over, and rallies are always possible. Plus, five runs is not an insurmountable deficit. So when Marwin Gonzalez came to the plate to lead off the eighth inning, the Astros were not out of the game. However Gonzalez, Jimmy Paredes, and Jose Altuve did not put any pressure on reliever J.C. Gutierrez.
Five pitches. That is all it took for Gutierrez to get out of the eighth inning. That is simply not an acceptable approach at the plate in that situation. All it takes is one base runner to start a rally, and the Astros could not get anything going.
Sunday was actually worse for Houston, as the offense just did not show up against Luis Mendoza. Over seven innings, the Astros only mustered four hits and one walk against Mendoza. Then over the next two innings all Houston managed was a hit against Aaron Crow and a walk against closer Greg Holland. For the game, Houston hitters only saw 115 pitches.
As the Astros travel to Seattle to kick off a three game series against the Mariners, let’s see if the approach at the plate improves. With the exception of Carlos Pena, the Astros do not have established major league hitters. As they continue to develop and grow into major league players, the approach is more important than the result.
Take some pitches, and have good at bats. We know the hits are there, now the Astros just need to put the sweep in Kansas City behind them and get back to having some good at bats.