The Astros lost their fourth game in a row Monday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. And quite frankly, I cannot find any positives to take from tonight.
Dallas Keuchel (Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)
Honestly, the best I can say is that Dallas Keuchel battled. The left hander gutted his way through 4.2 innings and needed 108 pitches to do it.
From the start, it was a stressful outing for Keuchel. In the first two innings, Keuchel allowed five baserunners and threw 42 pitches while at least holding Tampa scoreless. Then came the third inning when the Rays started to do some damage.
A lead off walk to Wil Myers was followed by a Ben Zobrist double and brought Yunel Escobar to the plate. Keuchel then continued his tightrope act by striking out Escobar looking. But, he could not hold the Rays any longer as James Loney followed that up with a sacrifice fly and the first of many runs on the night for Tampa Bay. A Ryan Roberts home run into the Crawford Boxes then made it 3-0.
In each inning, Tampa had at least one runner on base and Keuchel gave way to Paul Clemens having given up eight hits, five walks, and five runs. But since the Astros offense is still ice cold, all Tampa starter Matt Moore needed was Loney’s sacrifice fly.
Clemens got out of the fifth inning, but then proceeded to give up four runs blowing the game wide open. He was followed by Hector Ambriz who is usually good for adding to the stress levels of Astros fans. Tonight, Ambriz actually helped Astros fans out by reinforcing the notion that the game was out of reach. The Rays added three more runs of the right hander as he saw his ERA swell to 5.40.
Moore is a good young starter who until recently was having a very good season for the Rays. Facing the Astros tonight was all Moore needed to right the ship as he pitched seven scoreless innings allowing only two hits and three walks while striking out nine.
It was just a bad night for the Astros all together as they really showed no fight. The closest thing we got to excitement was Bo Porter coming out to argue a missed call in the fifth inning. Brandon Barnes was called out on a close play at first base when it looked he had just barely beaten the throw.
And that was really all there was to say about the Astros offense. They managed just two hits for the game compared to 17 for the Rays. Moving Matt Dominguez up to the sixth spot did not do anything. Ronny Cedeno as the designated hitter also did not add any punch to the lineup, nor did Jimmy Paredes in right field.
It does not get any easier for the Astros as David Price returns from the disabled list to face them Tuesday night.