If you blink quickly, you may see the Astros pitching performance Sunday wasn’t all that bad. No, wait, you can’t; the pitching staff was still miserable to watch.
When you combine an injury depleted starting rotation with a taxed bullpen, the results are not usually kind. Yesterday was prime example as such for the Astros.
86.5% win expectancy
At one point during the game, the Astros win expectancy was 86.5%. A single by Jose Altuve just drove in George Springer to make the score 6-to-3, and Houston looked prime to overcome a rough first three innings by David Paulino.
Then the fifth inning happened. And it wasn’t pretty to watch.
Between Paulino and Michael Feliz, the Astros managed to cough up a three-run lead that turned into a three-run deficit. So, a six-run swing in just one-half of an inning. While Houston did manage to overcome a three-run deficit earlier, the odds of it happening twice in the same game were low.
The Astros win expectancy dropped like a rock from this point onwards. This is partially due to the fact that the offense couldn’t generate a single run against the Angels’ pitching staff in the later stages of the game. Then there were the ineffective outings from Feliz, James Hoyt and Dayan Diaz that prevented Houston from remaining within striking distance. This was simply not the Astros night.
The Astros put their first runs on the board in the third inning. These runs were courtesy of George Springer’s two-run home run that chipped into the Angels first lead of the game.
If you run a search courtesy of Baseball Savant, you will find that similar batted balls with the same exit velocity (102 MPH) and launch angle (34 degrees) are home runs 54% of the time.
But Springer’s home run itself wasn’t the most interesting aspect.
Thanks to Springer’s home run, the Astros have now hit a home run in 19 consecutive games, which is now the new franchise record. While this didn’t sway the game towards the Astros favor for long, this is still a cool tidbit to remember for years to come.
No, 2,000 wasn’t the number of hits in the Astros-Angels game. But just imagine how epic, and long, a game like that would be. You would also need an entirely new pitching staff for both teams. But I digress.
The importance of 2,000 hits yesterday was for Astros outfielder Nori Aoki and his inclusion into the Meikyukai. Per Baseball Reference, the Meikyukai is often cited as one of Japan’s Hall of Fame institutions, even though there is technically only one such institution in Japan. Regardless, players are automatically inducted into the Meikyukai if they achieve one of the following as a member of both Nippon Pro Baseball and Major League Baseball: 2,000 hits, 2,000 career victories or 250 saves. And Aoki made the cut with his 2,000 professional hit yesterday!
Aoki’s accomplishment yesterday is downright impressive. Not only did he had a solid career in Japan, he has also made a name for himself in the United States. That’s just tough to do.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs, MLB.com and Baseball Savant**