WEEK IN REVIEW – MARCH 29 – APRIL 1
Thursday, March 29 – Astros 4, Rangers 1
Friday, March 30 – Rangers 5, Astros 1
Saturday, March 31 – Astros 9, Rangers 3
Sunday, April 1 – Astros 8, Rangers 2
The confluence of a less-than-great outing by Dallas Keuchel (despite technically qualifying for a quality start) and the Astros’ inability to solve Doug Fister resulted in the only loss on an otherwise very promising opening weekend. The Astros rode some truly excellent starting pitching and some vaunty offense to a 3-1 series victory over the Rangers.
If I had to pick a favorite pitching outing, it might be Gerrit Cole’s. An early solo homer and a couple of walks aside, Cole was dominant for seven innings, allowing only two hits and punching out eleven (most by a MLB pitcher so far, at the time of this writing). That’s not to diminish other efforts, though: McCullers racked up 10 K’s in 5.1 innings and Verlander tossed six scoreless innings.
The bullpen performed admirably, comfortably holding the lead in all three of the games in which they had one to protect.
On the offensive side of things, it took a couple of games for the bats to get in gear but they mashed early and often on Saturday and Sunday. Altuve and Correa are hitting a combined .500 (16×32) with seven RBI and nine runs scored. Stassi and McCann are representing the catcher’s spot well out of the gate. And this is despite at least four everyday players (Marwin, Springer, Reddick, Bregman) hitting at or below the Mendoza line.
Barring any last-minute setbacks, the Astros get Yuli Gurriel back on Tuesday. JD Davis figures to be the one sent packing for Fresno unless something happens in Monday’s game that tips the scales between him and Derek Fisher.
Nods approvingly at… the middle infield, and not just because of their proficiency at the plate, either. Correa and Altuve turned some ridiculous double plays in this series. (Honorable mention: Astros fan turnout in Arlington; Globe Life Park falling short of a sellout on Opening Day; Rougned Odor’s throw to “first” on Friday.)
Looks down nose at… the GIDPs, which are piling up already. Three of them in the 5-1 loss alone. (Dishonorable mention: Marwin, not for arguing with a bad umpire about bad umpiring, but for whatever this is.)
ELSEWHERE IN THE AL WEST…
The Angels started the season in Oakland and took three out of four from the A’s. Shohei Ohtani picked up a win in a quality start and went 1×5 from the plate.
The Mariners hosted the Indians and won two games behind strong starts by King Felix and Mike Leake. All three of the games in the series were decided by one run. Jeff Bannister interrupted his conversation with an umpire to take credit.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL…
The Nats, Pirates, Brewers, and White Sox are the only remaining undefeated teams.
The Dodgers pitching staff allowed two runs – total – to the Giants in four games. They split the series. Brutal.
Giancarlo Stanton has as many home runs (2) as Jake Marisnick. Both have two more home runs than Aaron Judge, who has as many home runs as I do.
WEEK AT A GLANCE – APRIL 2-8
ORIOLES @ ASTROS – APRIL 2-4
or, “Minute Maid Park gets an orange enema”
Schedule and probables
Monday, April 2, 6pm CDT
Chris Tillman (2017: 1-7, 7.84) vs. Charlie Morton (2017: 14-7, 3.62)
Tuesday, April 3, 7:10pm CDT
Mike Wright (2017: 0-0, 5.76) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 0.00)
Wednesday, April 4, 1:10pm CDT
Dylan Bundy (0-0, 0.00) vs. Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.50)
healthy large contingent of OWA faithful will be in the View Deck for Monday’s home opener. If AT&T SportsNet and/or ESPN are foolish enough to fix their cameras on us, we apologize in advance if our collective attractiveness leaves you with feelings of inadequacy.
The Orioles (1-2) dropped a three-game set to the Twins and only scored five runs all weekend. After winning on Opening Day, the O-birds were:
- No-hit through seven innings on Saturday
- Three-hit by Jose Berrios in a complete game shutout on Sunday
Bundy has had the best results in Baltimore’s rotation so far, tossing seven shutout innings on Opening Day. He was 13-9 with a 4.24 ERA last year and got banged up pretty good by the Astros in Baltimore, allowing seven runs in 5.1 innings The 2017 Astros also faced Tillman, off of whom they hit two homers last July. Neither pitcher factored into a decision. Wright has not started a game since 2016 and only made 13 relief appearances in 2017.
On the Astros side of the ball, Morton didn’t pitch against the Orioles in 2017 and has limited experience against their lineup. What experience is there isn’t good, but it’s largely due to Colby Rasmus being 7×14 with a 1.248 OPS lifetime against Morton. As a Tiger, Verlander turned in a seven-inning, 10 K game against the O-birds and notched a win along the way. Keuchel also picked up a win against the 2017 Orioles, allowing one run over six.
DH Mark Trumbo will miss at least the entire week recovering from a quad injury.
PADRES @ ASTROS – APRIL 6-8
or, “Maybe they’ll actually score some runs this year”
Schedule and probables
Friday, April 6, 7:10pm CDT
Luis Perdomo (0-1, 11.25) vs. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 3.38)
Saturday, April 7, 6:10pm CDT
Bryan Mitchell (2017: 1-1, 5.79) vs. Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.29)
Sunday, April 8, 1:10pm CDT
Tyson Ross (2017: 3-3, 7.71) vs. Charlie Morton (2017: card-carrying Game 7 badass)
The winless Padres will host the Rockies for four games before traveling to Houston. Baseball’s worst run-scoring offense (-212 run differential!) in 2017 ostensibly improved with the additions of Eric Hosmer and Chase Headley, but it hasn’t reflected in the win column yet. They suffered a sweep at the hands of the Brewers, including a 2-1 12-inning loss on Opening Day. Starters not named Clayton Richard didn’t fare well, and that includes Luis Perdomo, who is slated for Friday’s series opener. Perdomo struck out seven in only four innings, but that was tainted by four walks, seven hits, and five runs. Mitchell made one start and 19 relief appearances with the Yankees last year; one of those relief outings was a three-inning save against the Astros. Ross was an excellent starter as recently as 2015, but his shoulder injury on Opening Day in 2016 changed the trajectory of his career. He spent a largely miserable 2017 with the Rangers (although he did pick up a win against the Astros) and came to San Diego on a minor league contract.
McCullers has no meaningful experience against the Padres hitters. Interestingly, neither does Morton despite being a long career in the NL. Cole does, though, and in 64 combined ABs Padres hitters are .234/.319/.391 against him.
The Padres have six players split between the 10-day and 60-day DLs. You probably haven’t heard of many of them.