WEEK IN REVIEW – APRIL 2-8
ASTROS (5-1, 8-2 overall)
Monday, April 2 – Astros 6, Orioles 1
Tuesday, April 3 – Astros 10, Orioles 6
Wednesday, April 4 – Astros 3, Orioles 2
Friday, April 6 – Padres 4, Astros 1
Saturday, April 7 – Astros 1, Padres 0
Sunday, April 8 – Astros 4, Padres 1
The Astros kept the offense rolling after the opening series against the Rangers, but it went into a funk after Reddick’s grand slam on Tuesday. The team was just 2×18 with RISP Wednesday through Saturday, and that includes Saturday’s walkoff popup that was gifted as a hit and not an error.
The pitching staff as a whole put together a pretty good week, though. Starters combined for a 2-1 record and 1.36 ERA on 43 strikeouts, and the bullpen put up a lot of zeroes on the scoreboard. Overall, the Astros’ 2.00 team ERA leads MLB staffs, their 106 strikeouts trails only the Yankees, and their 1.12 WHIP is tied for third-best.
Nods approvingly at… the #4 and #5 slots in the rotation. In three starts Cole and Morton combined for 19 innings, 24 strikeouts, a WHIP under 1, and no earned runs. They won’t continue at this pace, but it’s damn fun to watch. (Honorable mention: Eric Hosmer.)
Looks down nose at… sloppy defense. Six errors in six games is pretty shitty, and five of those errors led to unearned runs. (Dishonorable mention: the offense.)
ELSEWHERE IN THE AL WEST…
The Angels (6-2) went 4-2, picking up series wins against the Indians and A’s. Shohei Ohtani took a perfect game into the 7th inning on Sunday and is batting .389/.421/.889 in four games. Holy shit. An adjustment is coming, no doubt, but for now the returns are impressive.
The Mariners (4-3) went 3-2 against the Giants and Twins. King Felix got absolutely torched in San Fran.
The A’s (4-7) and Rangers (4-7) both went 3-4 on the week, splitting a four-game series with each other and then each dropping two out of three to their weekend opponents.
ELSEWHERE IN BASEBALL…
The Orioles, freshly swept by the Astros, punked the Yankees twice in extra innings in the Bronx on the way to a 3-1 series win.
The Red Sox (8-1) have won eight straight and own baseball’s best record.
The AL Central is the ugliest division so far, with only two games separating first place and last place.
Through nine games the Dodgers own a +2 run differential and are 3-6. They’ve been shut out three times, and twice this week the Diamondbacks (15 innings) and Giants (14 innings) walked off against them in protracted extra inning contests.
The Nationals (4-5) dipped below .500 for the first time since 2015. The Astros now own the best current streak in that regard.
Speaking of the NL East, it may be a three-team race with the Mets (7-1) and Braves (6-3) all off to strong starts. The Braves have scored more runs (62) than anyone out of the gate, while the Mets have allowed the fewest (22).
THE WEEK AHEAD – APRIL 9-15
Astros @ Twins – April 9-11
or, “Exhibit A for why all northern baseball stadiums should have roofs”
It’s going to be cold as shit for this series, with first pitch temps of 36, 41, and 46 degrees. It could be worse: Minneapolis is supposed to have up to three inches of snow while the White Sox are in town this weekend.
Schedule and Probables
Monday, April 9, 7:10pm CDT
Justin Verlander (1-0, 2.31) vs. Lance Lynn (0-1, 11.25)
Tuesday, April 10, 7:10pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 3.27) vs. Jake Odorizzi (0-0, 2.61)
Wednesday, April 11, 12:10pm CDT
Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 3.48) vs. Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.87)
Look at the Astros pitchers above. Now look at this list of the Astros pitchers that started in Minneapolis in 2017:
Also, I think we can safely say that we won’t be seeing Jordan Jankowski for two innings of relief this time around.
Of course, many will remember last year’s trip to Target Field for the offense: 40 runs scored (team record for series of any length), the Memorial Day Massacre (11-run 8th inning), the first comeback of 6+ runs in the 8th inning or later in team history. The Astros have recently scored runs in bunches in Minneapolis, but the Twins (4-3) pitching stands to be a little better this time around; Minnesota’s 3.57 team ERA so far is 3rd in the AL (behind Boston and Houston) and 9th in MLB. Their offense is solidly middle of the road.
Lance Lynn made a pretty good comeback in 2017 from Tommy John surgery the previous year, posting a 3.43 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in St. Louis. The sabermetricians think he’s fools gold, though. Jake Odorizzi started his season with a two-hit shutout appearance against the Orioles, then gave up three runs in 4.1 innings to the upstart Pirates. Gibson no-hit the O’s for six innings (despite five walks), then turned in a relatively short but effective outing against the M’s. The Astros have had success against Odorizzi; Gibson, not so much (team OPS below .600).
Rangers @ Astros – April 13-15
or, “Don’t Fister in the (Bartolo) Colon”
Season series: 3-1 Astros
Season run differential: Astros +11
I don’t get the fascination with Colon. His combination of being old, being fat, and hitting a home run that one time while being old and fat has somehow made him an endearing figure, which in the #metoo era is somewhat surprising given the two-timing scumbag he is in his personal life. This, of course, makes him absolutely perfect for the Texas Rangers, and vice versa.
Schedule and Probables
Friday, April 13, 7:10pm CDT (get ready for “Friday the 13th” hot air from sportscasters if anything remotely weird happens)
Mike Minor (1-1, 2.53) vs. Gerrit Cole (1-0, 0.64)
Saturday, April 14, 3:05pm CDT
Cole Hamels (1-2, 5.06) vs. Charlie Morton (2-0, 0.00)
Sunday, April 15, 1:10pm CDT
Doug Fister (1-1, 3.12) vs. Justin Verlander (1-0, 2.31)
Astros fans are getting the national broadcast treatment a little early this season, as Saturday’s game will be on FS1 and Sunday’s game on ESPN.
All three of the Rangers pitchers turned in pretty decent outings against the Astros, with Hamels’ being the worst of the three. Minor pitched well against the Jays, allowing one run on two hits over six innings. Hamels has allowed six earned runs in his last 10.1 innings against the A’s and Blue Jays. Fister didn’t make it out of the 4th inning in Oakland.