Astros: Westbound to Los Angeles

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Jun 26, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) fields a ground ball against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (1) fields a ground ball against the Kansas City Royals during the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Astros can’t win ’em all, right? Well, we found out that even hot streaks aren’t meant to last forever.

After a seven-game winning streak, the Astros luck finally ran out Sunday against the Kansas City Royals. The offense finally cooled down after scoring 13 runs in the previous two games at Kaufmann, and the pitching staff finally looked mortal. Outside of Evan Gattis and his solo home run, there wasn’t much to like about the game. The hyped call-up of A.J. Reed has yet to produce a hit.

From the game’s onslaught, Royals starter Ian Kennedy basically owned the Astros from his first pitch to the last one he threw. Eleven strikeouts, one walk, three hits, and one run is a heck of a stat line against an offense like the Astros.

Talking about pitching anyway, is it possible that manager A.J. Hinch left starter Doug Fister in too long yesterday? After all, Fister was pitching fine through six innings as he allowed just one home run and the Astros bullpen has been one of the better units since the start of May. Of course, the decision to go with Tony Sipp to replace Fister didn’t help matters.

I realize Fister has been pitching great for the Astros, but once a pitcher has faced a lineup two to three times, you have to start wondering when would be the most opportune time to use your bullpen. He has allowed plenty of home runs this season, so when he loses it in a start, there is a real chance of the game being torpedoed before the bullpen can stop the bleeding. And it may finally be time to back away from Sipp in situations with runners on the bases. That is just my speculation, a couch-sitting analyst.

Anyway, five runs and three outs later in that fateful seventh inning, the Astros offense face the unenviable task of overcoming a five-run deficit against one of the better bullpen tandems in Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis. Needless to say, the offense did not succeed.

More from Climbing Tal's Hill

Game 1: RHP Collin McHugh (5-5, 4.70 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (4-8, 4.43 ERA)

The Astros are now on the west coast in Anaheim to take on the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) this week. Of course, this is the same Angels squad that the Astros just swept in Houston earlier last week so hopefully the Astros didn’t leave their mojo against the Halos at Minute Maid Park.

To face the Angels tonight in their rematch is Collin McHugh, who ended up with the no-decision after pitching seven solid innings on June 21st. That was the same game when Carlos Correa had the walk-off two-RBI single to win that game for the Astros by the score of 3-2.

The Angels will be sending out Shoemaker, who pitched 7.1 solid innings of baseball against the Astros offense. However, he was on the losing end of that affair as the Astros scored a pair of runs late to earn another 3-2 victory over the Halos.

Next: Astros' Carlos Correa: A Boxer's State of Mind

Even though the seven-game winning streak is now over, the Astros are in an enviable position as the team continues to make up ground in the AL Wild Card standings. However, road trips are still not the Astros strong suit (17-22) despite winning four out of five from St. Louis Cardinals and Royals away from Houston.

**Statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball-Reference, & ESPN**

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