GAME 48 - May 23: Astros 4, Dodgers 3
GAME 49 - May 24: Dodgers 5, Astros 4
GAME 50 - May 25: Astros 2, Dodgers 1
GAME 51 - May 27: Diamondbacks 7, Astros 6
GAME 52 - May 28: Diamondbacks 11, Astros 3
GAME 53 - May 29: Diamondbacks 4, Astros 2
With the Astros so solidly positioned in the cellar of the National League, it's not really worth spending a lot of time writing up all the individual game details. This past week there were a lot of close games -- five one-run scores in a row -- so the Astros were actually playing with a chance to win in most games. There were even a pair of walk-off wins against the Dodgers, for a rare series win. Be still my heart!
The close-game trend ended on Saturday night with a blowout loss to the Diamondbacks. When I turned on the computer after the Sabbath and saw the Astros down 9-0, I didn't even bother to start the live video. The good news is that the Astros, down 11-0 in the ninth, did manage to pull off a few runs, avoiding a shutout. (Just say NO TO SHUTOUTS!) I have to be thankful for the little things; it's hard to keep the excitement flowing. Sunday the bullpen blew another save situation to complete a weekend sweep by the Snakes. The good news: JA Happ (after walking 3 in the first inning) not only kept a shutout going on his watch, he also hit his first major league home run. That solo homer and a balked-in run accounted for Houston's whole score.
The Houston sports press also struggles to generate some excitement around a team that doesn't do many exciting things. Take, for instance, Wednesday's headline on mlb.com:
Good Ol' J.R.: Towles' Walk-off BBQs Dodgers
I'm not saying that J.R. Towles isn't a nice young man, but "good ol' J.R." kind of hints at consistency and dependability. He's been really dependable, all right -- but just not the right kind. Up until that game, he'd been in a 0-for-32 slump, with only 1 hit the whole month of May. And what's with the barbeque metaphor? To me, "BBQ" indicates some fire. The Astros eked out a 2-1 win on a walk-off single. Here's a more accurate headline for the game:
Astros Slowcook Dodgers on Rare Towles' Hit
I'm being a bit facetious here, but it's really that kind of a season, and it doesn't look like it's going to get much better for a while. The press has made much of the fact that the team is on pace to win just shy of 60 games this season, which would be the worst record ever -- even worse than the original 1962 Colt 45's. The Astros have never before lost 100 games, but they have a chance to break that record this year. On the other hand, the 2005 Astros also had the worst record brewing at the start of the season, and we all know where that ended up.
In the World Series.
No, I'm not expecting a 2005-style turnaround this year. It's going to be like Spring Training, all season long. Astros are leading the league in fielding flubs and blown saves. That kind of season. The good news: We've only been shutout once! The bad news: We stink.
The real news is about which of the youngsters in Oklahoma are getting the call, as various roster players are injured. The latest team members to make the DL are Wandy (fluid in his pitching arm elbow) and Q (sprained ankle on collision at home plate). Q's replacement (journeyman Robinson Cancel, playing for his seventh Triple A team in a 17-year professional career) isn't going to bring fans to the stadium. But Wandy's replacement should generate considerable interest: Twenty-year-old Jordan Lyles will get his big league debut in Chicago this week. Isn't that something -- a player born in 1990 on the mound for Houston? A top pitching prospect!!!
Here's the headline that the press (SB Nation) managed to generate for this event:
Astros Sunday Roundup: Jordan Lyles - Savior of the Universe
Anything for attention.