There are just times when it isn’t meant to be your night. The Astros were reminded of such last night in Kansas City.
Despite a late inning surge from the offense, the Astros fell to the Royals by a score of 7-to-5. It was another disappointing outcome for baseball’s best team this season, but it shouldn’t derail their season. Some fans in the internet world are acting like it already has.
Let’s be honest for a second: The Astros were likely not going to keep up an 117-win pace all season long. Sure, it’s a cool (fun?) fact. But it isn’t the end of the world if the Astros win 103-games than 117. Or 98. How about 95?
The pitching matchup of the year, Dallas Keuchel vs. Jason Vargas, was all set last night. The top two ERA leaders in post-May going at it for the first time since Roger Clemens and Chris Carpenter in 2005.
Thanks to a sudden illness, Keuchel had to be scratched mere minutes before his scheduled start. It was a rather unfortunate event for both him and the Astros. In turn, Houston gave the starting nod to Dayan Diaz whom the team just recalled from the minors in the last day or so.
This just didn’t feel like the Astros night. And that feeling turned out to be right. Diaz lasted only 2.2 innings last night while allowing three runs on four hits, which included one home run courtesy of Lorenzo Cain.
Somehow, though, Diaz ended up with the Astros longest pitching appearance in the game. Only Luke Gregerson pitched more than 1.1 innings last night. Tony Sipp, Michael Feliz and Ken Giles all pitched at least one inning., but Feliz was the only one to pitch in 1.1 innings. Unfortunately, Sipp and Feliz were unable to keep the game close in the early innings as they both surrendered two runs in their appearances. It just wasn’t the Astros night.
Outside of Brian McCann’s four-hit showing, the Astros offense had the appearance of an off night. If it wasn’t for Alcides Escobar’s error in the eighth, the final score wouldn’t have shown a narrower margin of victory for Kansas City.
Anyway, McCann was clearly the hitter of the game for Houston. His solo shot, which had a recorded exit velocity of 101.3 MPH, in the second inning put the Astros on the board.
Unfortunately for the Astros, the pitching staff made sure that the lead was short-lived. It wouldn’t be until the eighth inning before Houston’s bats would truly threaten the Royals again.
63.6% win expectancy
In a way, the Astros recent eleven-game winning streak has spoiled us as fans. There were times I actually caught myself being nearly convinced that the team woukd comeback and win their last two games. After all, Houston does have 21 comeback wins to their credit in 2017 so there is some precedent. But baseball is going to throw you for a loop every once in a while.
Last night’s game was a strange one. An obvious reason was Keuchel’s absence. Another was the 63.6% win expectancy that the Astros had earlier in the game.
During the past two weeks it was strange to see lower win expectancies from Houston. I’m probably making a bigger deal out of this than I should, but it definitely caught my attention last night.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Fangraphs, Statcast and Baseball Reference**