One day after the Astros suffered what we called their "most embarrassing loss of 2023," they went out and laid yet another egg. With the slimmest of hopes remaining for an AL West division title and a tiny grasp on the final AL Wild Card spot, the Astros went out and got punched in the mouth again by the woeful Royals, losing 6-5.
Hunter Brown hardly broke a sweat in the first inning, holding an opponent scoreless in the first for the first time in four games. José Abreu's double in the bottom-half gave the Astros a first inning lead.
From there, the trains came off the tracks and Brown quickly surrendered the lead. Four Royals big flies and six runs later, Brown's day was done with the Astros trailing 6-2.
Houston's offense chipped away throughout the rest of the contest, but another dreadful day with runners in scoring position prevented them from every seriously threatening to overtake Kansas City.
They stranded 47 baserunners in this six-game home stand, and are eight for their last 52 with runners in scoring position. With a starting rotation in shambles and many of their arms having already blown past their career-high in workloads, that ineptitude with runners aboard simply won't get it done.
The Astros have now lost 9 of 12, with seven of those losses coming at the hands of the Royals and Athletics. Where the AL West title was once assuredly theirs, now its a fair question to ask if they will even make the postseason.
Houston now has a half-game lead for the final AL Wild Card spot, remaining tied with Seattle in the loss column. The Mariners won the season series over Houston, meaning they hold the tiebreaker and Houston will be on the outside looking in if they finish with an identical record.
The Astros kick off a three-game series in Seattle tonight in a series they simply have to have if they are going to play baseball in October. They'll finish with three games in Arizona against a Diamondbacks team also fighting for their playoff lives.
The Astros enter these six games 46-29 on the road this year. That they're away from home, where they somehow finished 39-42, offers a slight reprieve.
Time after time we've seen the Astros step up when needed most. They've shown zero ability to pick themselves off the mat this year. Do they have it in them to answer the bell one more time?