The Astros lost to Seattle last night in an embarrassing display of baseball. Their loss left them with a 0.5 game lead over Seattle ahead of tonight's must-win contest.
Lost amidst all of the blunders, throwing errors, hit-and-runs with Maldy at the plate, pinch-hitting Jon Singleton, and defensive meltdown, was one specific move that is a microcosm of the Astros struggles all season.
Houston jumped on George Kirby early. Kirby, a blossoming ace, gave up back-to-back hits to Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman to lead-off the game.
After retiring Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, the AL leader in RBI, stepped into the box with first and second occupied.
George Kirby is one of the best control pitchers in the MLB. His 0.9 BB/9 and 8.68 SO/W are both best in the game. George Kirby doesn't miss the zone unless he wants to miss the zone.
After throwing three-pitches well above the zone where Tucker couldn't even consider swinging, Scott Servais and the Mariners opted to put Tucker on via an intentional walk.
George Kirby hadn't issued an intentional walk in his pro career. In fact, he hadn't issued one since 2017.
With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, and before his team even had a chance to bat, Scott Servais opted to sacrifice an out to load the bases for Houston's five-hitter.
Against 28 other teams in the league, that may actually be a fireable offense. Your season is on the line and you just willingly loaded the bases for a premium run producer in the top of the first, likely digging yourself a hole before your team even comes to the plate once.
Against Dusty Baker's Astros, it's sheer brilliance.
For reasons we still don't know, Dusty Baker continues to bat José Abreu in the heart of his order. Abreu has batted either cleanup or fifth in 102 of his 137 games this season.
Abreu began last night hitting .235 with a .672 OPS. By fWAR, only two qualified position players in the game have been worse than Abreu. But every day Dusty sends him out in the heart of the order.
Across the league, cleanup hitters are hitting .252 with a .767 OPS. Five-hitters are hitting .247 with a .745 OPS. Those are your guys that do damage.
But because the back of Abreu's baseball card says he used to do damage, Dusty leaves him in the heart of the order to continually hamper the Astros chances.
A weak dribbler to third resulted in Altuve being cut down at home for the second out of the inning. Yainer Diaz then grounded out to end the inning and kill the rally opportunity.
Chas McCormick and his .867 OPS was stuck batting seventh, and never got a chance to do any damage. If Dusty would swallow his pride and actually bat his best hitters higher in the order, maybe the Astros wouldn't be fighting for their playoff lives.
Scott Servias could not have cared one ounce less what the back of Abreu's baseball card said and was rewarded for it. Dusty Baker has made decisions all year based on the back of baseball cards. And when the playoffs roll around, he's gonna have plenty of free-time to keep reading them. If he has his way, the Astros won't even make the playoffs.