By NEAL FARMER
There was a stat running around at the All-Star Break that the Houston Astros could play .500 ball the rest of the season and still make the playoffs. The Astros appear set on testing that theory.
Enough, I say.
The Astros have been awful lately, but as has been said in this space before, that is the natural ebb and flow of a 162-game season. But…
(Sarcasm font, with Sam Kinison delivery) – Two of those losses were against the Rangers this weekend. The FREAKIN’ RANGERS. ARRRGGGGH. Do you know how many high school and college friends I have who live in D-FW? Do you know I am now not answering my phone? HUH? DO YOU, ASTROS? Orange is not only your color, but the color of my face as I have to read what those Cowgirl-loving Ranger fans are saying ON SOCIAL MEDIA RIGHT NOW. I mean, they want me to apologize for telling them that the Rangers are a franchise on the downswing. I thought they knew.
(Back to regular font) The Astros were able to beat the Dallas Rangers of Arlington once this past weekend, which I guess, is something. The Astros have gone 1-5 on their current road trip and play at Arizona tonight. They were on a streak where they lost 11-of-15.
Now before anyone flies off the handle, teams lose games when they are healthy in pro baseball. And the Astros have been anything but healthy.
George Springer is back and Jose Altuve never left. And Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez are making things happen. But one of the deepest lineups in the Majors still needs Carlos Correa to return like his former self, as well as needing a sprinkling of more Springer Dingers. There are times with Tyler White, Derek Fisher, J.D. Davis, Juan Centeno and others that it seems like it is Altuve and the players-to-be-named-later.
Keuchel pitched well on Sunday in the 2-1 win over the Rangers, but that was his first quality start since coming off of the DL. Brad Peacock, Charlie Morton and Mike Fiers have been special. But starters are not going deep in games and that has hurt the bullpen and their ability to pitch every day, to where it is an adventure every time a game goes into the seventh inning.
Manager A.J. Hinch has used 100 different batting orders in 115 games, according to the Houston Chronicle, and the Astros are still in first place in their division.
I still think the Astros are good enough as is to make the World Series, and it does not bother me that they only got one pitcher before the trade deadline. (They needed a lefty.) I am not someone who thinks Houston should have mortgaged its future with its star-studded minor league system to get possible immediate results. If Houston can get Justin Verlander, then that would be great. But don’t give away the farm.
If the World Series does not happen now for Houston, it probably will in the very near future. And remember, only one team comes away the big winner each year. Sure, it previously felt like it was Houston’s year with all the records the team has set. Now, I am not as sure.
There also is proof that previous World Series champions suffered through ominous losing streaks during their runs to the title. Those streaks are, according to AT&T Sportsnet:
2016 Cubs 3-9
2015 Royals 3-9 (multiple times)
2014 Giants 3-9 (multiple times)
2013 Red Sox 3-9
2012 Giants 4-8
My only current comfort is that the Dallas Rangers at Arlington fans will cast their baseball team away when the Dallas Cowgirls start to play. Wait a minute. That was this past weekend. I did notice that Globe Life Stadium was not full this past weekend that Houston visited, and had its fair share of Astros fans there.
And, it really hasn’t been THAT many calls from my high school and college friends who live in D-FW. Maybe they didn’t even notice the Rangers this past weekend, and that is fine with me.
Except the Astros need to start beating THOSE FREAKIN’ RANGERS, OR I WILL WHIP OUT MY SAM KINISON FONT AGAIN. ARRRRGGGGGGGGGH.
BREAKING NEWS: (From Ch. 2′ s Adam Wexler): The Astros have acquired reliever Tyler Clippard from the White Sox for PTBNL or cash. He was traded to the Sox just last month & in the past 3 seasons has pitched for the A’s, Mets, D’Backs & Yankees, too.
Clippard was a two-time all-star (’11 & ’14) w/ the Nationals. Had better control during those Nats years, thus his best success. Last two seasons, much more inconsistent, though he was very sharp w/ Chicago during his 26 days there.
Just another arm that should be more successful than some of their current ones. Has really nasty stuff, just not as strong control as earlier in his career.
Will be in same role he’s been in for much of his career.
DON’T PANIC, IN LARGE, FRIENDLY LETTERS: Someone else who agrees that Astros fans should not panic:
SPIETH DOESN’T BECOME YOUNGEST TO WIN CAREER SLAM: Golf and bull riding probably are the sports where you can be the same person with the same approach and same talent, and get different results each time out. Jordan Spieth, who only needs a win at the PGA Championship to get the career Grand Slam of golf, played his game but did not come close to achieving that goal. If he had won on Sunday, he would have been the youngest to achieve that hallowed hallmark.
He was philosophical about his finish on Sunday, tied for 28th with a 2-over.
“I didn’t have it written in a diary from when I was young that I needed to a career Grand Slam as the youngest player ever – that wasn’t the goal,” Spieth told the Associated Press. “If we look historically back on my career, I think I will play this tournament worse than the (other) three majors just in the way that it is set up. I feel like my game truly suits the other three majors more than the PGA Championship.”
But this quest will be a storyline for at least the next 30 years, since he is only 24.
Houston resident Chris Stroud had been seven under on the last day of the tournament, but suffered a brutal back nine and tied for ninth with a one under for the weekend. Justin Thomas won by shooting eight-under for the tourney.
TOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES: Click bait to let you know Nick Saban is the top college coach.
MOST-HATED PRO FOOTBALL PLAYERS OF ALL TIME: Could have been a better story if they had a category for the Cowgirls as most-hated team. But the positive is that this is not click bait, as you can see all of the nominees in one read.
I FEEL BAD FOR LAUGHING: A football team lets a youngster have the ball and run for a TD, except one defender didn’t read his memo. I am a bad person for laughing out loud at this.
CLASSICAL NOTES: Moussorsky, Pictures at an Exhibition. A majestic piece that Emmerson, Lake and Palmer redid as a rock piece. Listen to each and you might decide that the classical rendition is better than the rock interpretation. But they both are excellent.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: From a friend – “I was filmed dancing to YMCA at one of my kid’s swim meets. She was horrified when she saw it. So, my work here is done.”
HOTTIE OF THE DAY:
Maybe someone caught the golfers attention at the PGA.