Astros News

The Astros Exorcised Their Demons vs the King

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The Astros were in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, where the lead in the AL West shrunk to a two-game cushion. If the other teams in the AL West were better, then they should have overtaken the Astros while they were losing. Before the losing streak started, the Astros were 34-20, so they had some cushion to withstand the suddenly decent Texas Rangers (those words will never come out of my mouth ever again).

Astros Hitting

What led to the seven-game losing streak, let’s look at the hitting stats during this period. (via MLB.com)

As you can see from the chart above, the batting average was about .201 during the seven-game slide. While they are normally last in batting average, it’s still 30 points less than .233 for the season. During the seven-game slide, they averaged 14 runners left on base. They left 18 runners on base in the first game of the losing streak, which set a pattern for the next six games. They average about two walks a game, so runners were on base, the Astros just had the “Can’t Get the Big Hit” Demon present with them.

Struggled Versus Opposing pitchers

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While they didn’t face too many aces, they did

While they didn’t face too many aces, they did matchup against White Sox lefty Chris Sale. They showed a very little ability to make contact versus him, striking out 16 times. It fact, the Astros struggled the entire series versus the lefty part of the White Sox rotation Sale, Carlos Rondon, and Jose Quintana. Rondon struggled with command, but still got the key out to limit the damages against him. This was the first time that the Astros have struggled so bad against lefthanders.

During the Blue Jays series, the Astros faced Aaron Sanchez, Drew Hutchinson, and R.A. Dickey an all-righthanded turn trough the Jays rotation. They were dominated by Hutchinson and Sanchez but scored early versus Dickey and the bullpen let the lead get away from them.

In the last game of the Orioles series, the Astros were slapped in the face by Wei-Yen Chen for six-plus innings. The Astros had the “Overmatched Against Pitcher” Demon during the streak.

Astros Pitching

While the starting rotation through this stretch of games was not the main cause, it was a factor with Roberto Hernandez losing his last game as part of the Astros rotation. Let’s look at the Astros pitching stats during the streak.

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As you can tell, the Astros were on the road and losing most games in the top of the ninth, because they did not have to pitch to the opposition in the bottom of the ninth many times. The Astros ERA for the season is 3.61 which ranks 3rd in the American League. However, during the seven-game drought, the Astros averaged 4.89 ERA per game.

The worst game was the final game versus the Blue Jays where Collin McHugh pitched six innings giving up three runs. He was given the lead following his exit, but the normally reliable Will Harris and Luke Gregerson gave up runs to allow the Jays to get the win.

Lance McCullers was able to match stuff against Chris Sales, but ultimately fell short giving up the two-run homer to Avisail Garcia being the deciding shot. The bullpen was the big culprit during the losing streak and bad outings by Brett Oberholtzer and Roberto Hernandez. They had the “Can’t Be Perfect on the Mound” Demon on their back.

Coming Home

Walking into the ballpark yesterday, I could tell there was something special going on. It felt like a playoff atmosphere. The attendance was an announced 32,173 strong, which was the largest since opening day. The Astros started exorcising their demons early, let’s look at how they exorcised each demon last night.

“Can’t Get the Big Hit” Demon

The Astros took care of business early in the first inning, when my wife jokingly said that everyone reached based except for this Carlos Correa guy. The Astros scored eight runs, with homers by Luis Valbuena and Jason Castro. The first big hit of the game came with George Springer‘s double in the first. Carlos Correa hit his second homer of the season in the second inning.

This demon is exorcised for now.

“Overmatched Against Pitcher” Demon

The knocked King Felix Hernandez out of the game after only getting one out, the strikeout to Carlos Correa. Hernandez has won nine games this season and were constantly in talks for the CY Young award.

This demon is exorcised for now.

“Can’t Be Perfect on the Mound” Demon

How many of you would have predicted that Brett Oberholtzer would have gone eight innings strong without giving up a run? He redeemed himself from his last poor outing. He surprisingly has a 1-1 record, with a 2.25 ERA while striking out 13 hitters in 20 innings.

This demon is exorcised for now.

The demons on the back of the Astros have appeared to be exorcised by the 10-0 drubbing of the Mariners. But then again, it is only one game. Let’s see how the Astros do today at 3:05 pm CST when they take on the Mariners again. IF Dwight Howard can make it to Astros games, so can you.

Next: Can the Astros Sign Cameron, Look at Bonus Pool?

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