The Astros can’t win ’em all, everyone. If they did, well, you are looking at the greatest team ever in all professional sports.
Everyone enjoys a good comeback story. I, myself, enjoy a good comeback story. The Astros were setting up last night to be a good comeback story.
If you haven’t yet noticed, a running theme for the Astros this season is their ability to pull off the impressive comeback win. In fact, they already have 22 comeback wins before yesterday’s game. Thank you, Baseball Reference’s Play Index, for this useful bit of information.
If you aren’t using it, well, you aren’t baseballing right.
Wait, is baseballing a real word?
The question in yesterday’s game in Minute Maid Park quickly became whether this would be the 23rd comeback win of the season for the Astros.
Unfortunately for Houston, last night was not a good comeback story. Last night’s baseball affair with the Oakland Athletics actually turned into a disappointing 6-to-4 mark in the loss column.
The Astros lineup was relatively quiet early against the Athletics. It was almost too quiet.
One explanation for this development is that Sean Manaea was on the mound for Oakland. And if you haven’t noticed, he is a talented pitcher.
You think there is anyway that Billy Beane would trade Manaea to Houston in July?
Probably not. However, it wouldn’t hurt to ask. It’s better than not being proactive.
Somehow, the Astros lineup managed nine hits on Manaea before his outing was over. But it didn’t matter as Houston only pushed across one run in 5.2 innings.
The hometown team did inflict some damage in the later innings against a bullpen with the fifth-worst ERA (4.81) in baseball. Unfortunately, this didn’t mean much despite 14 hits and a ninth-inning rally that fell just short. Also, the tying runs on-base with no outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. And they team left ten on-base.
But I move on.
The ninth-inning rally I just mentioned was simply heart wrenching. And this isn’t anything new for the Astros.
Let me set the stage for you.
The real kicker in this sequence of events was the win expectancy between Carlos Correa‘s single and Josh Reddick‘s fly ball in foul territory: 31.8%. And the Astros win expectancy before the bottom half of the inning started: 0.7%. To witness this kind of comeback come so close yet it wasn’t enough was disappointing.
Oh well, this is baseball; I wouldn’t expect anything else.
Mike Fiers, the Astros starting pitcher, finally looked mortal last night. In 5.2 innings, the right-hander surrender four earned runs. He did post a 59 game score, so, there’s that.
Oh, wait, James Hoyt was the pitcher who surrendered a grand slam. Fiers happened to leave everyone on-base for this to occur. Both are to blame. Manager A.J. Hinch will also draw some heat, fair or not, for substituting Fiers with Hoyt with the bases loaded. If the outcome worked out in the Astros favor, most of everyone would be call Hinch’s move a smart one. If it didn’t, which happened, then, well, you know the rest.
Anyway, Fiers has been quite good following his short-lived demotion to the bullpen almost one month ago. From May 30th through June 21st, Fiers posted an 1.72 ERA and 2.63 FIP in 31.1 innings. Outside of his issues in the sixth inning, this was another promising start for the veteran right-hander.
**Statistics and information courtesy of Baseball Reference, MLB.com and Fangraphs**