Alternate title: “The Cave-In”
Team from a Rainy City @ Team from a Rainy City
April 25-27, 2016
Once upon a cloudy morn I awoke, awash with scorn
At the extra-inning game my team had lost the night before.
Colby tied the game post-haste, only to watch it go to waste
When Billy Wagner 2.0 could not even prevent a score.
After five hours and twelve frames the Red Sox made the winning score.
The Astros scored nevermore.
I rose from bed, feeling foolish that this baseball team so ghoulish
Could see a reversal in its fortunes and not be a bore.
I checked the schedule. Up next: Sea Hags. Could this bunch of scalawags
Be just what the Astros need to boost them to their play of yore?
And another thing that just might get them back to times of yore:
No King Felix to account for.
But then I saw: they’re on the road! A new burden on me bestowed.
I banged my keyboard on my desk and cried to Orbit as I swore:
“In twenty-fifteen they were shitty away from the Bayou City!
“West coast road trips cannot help. They’ll just keep being an eyesore!”
Orbit shrugged at me and said, “Away or home, they’re an eyesore.”
This team’s problems could grow more.
“It’s not fair to make them travel just to watch them more unravel!
“Has MLB not seen the massive flooding that’s been such a chore?
“The team will need a boat and paddle to get them up to Seattle!”
But my complaints could do no good; Orbit had heard this all before.
“Don’t be so negative,” he said. “You’ve seen them turn around before.”
Perhaps he’s right. Good days in store?
Then I realized: west coast games mean late start times. My ears shot flames!
These contests just might be played while I’m in bed catching a snore.
I cried again, “My will is pure! How many more must I endure?
“Staying up ‘til twelve or one makes me the coming day abhor.”
There was nothing to these games that I did not fully abhor.
Lamented Orbit, “Fifteen more.”
Monday, April 25 – 9:10pm CDT
Doug Fister (1-2, 5.94) vs. Taijuan Walker (1-0, 1.50)
Following two outings that were firmly mediocre at best, Fister turned in a solid effort against the Rangers last Wednesday, only allowing two runs on a home run through six innings. Fister also deserved better than to be matched up with Cole Hamels, against whom the Astro bats could do almost nothing. Fister has at least had good success against the Mariners during his career, going 2-0 with a 2.49 ERA in three career starts, and none of their hitters can claim gaudy stats against him.
Walker comes into the series with some early success in his second full big league season. He’s thrown three straight quality starts, picking up no-decisions in a loss to the A’s and a win against the Rangers and, most recently, getting the W against Cleveland. He’s also being stingy with allowing baserunners, currently owning a sub-1 WHIP. The silver lining is that the Astros had good success against him last year; he faced them four times in 2015, going 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA against the good guys and getting lit up for 7 ER in three innings in Houston in April. The Houston lineup also has seven homers off this guy, and Rasmus is 5×10 with a crank off him.
Tuesday, April 26 – 9:10pm CDT
Dallas Keuchel (2-2, 3.71) vs. Nathan Karns (1-1, 5.28)
I’m not sure what it is about the Rangers that gives them the ability to bring out the worst in Keuchel. They blew him up for nine runs in 4+ innings last September (by far his worst outing of the year), and got to him again for six runs and 13 hits in his last outing. That he lasted six innings is something of a minor miracle. I’m personally looking for him to get his groove back on Tuesday since he’s had good historical success against the M’s and at Safeco.
Karns, like Walker, is also in his second full season in the bigs, but he off to a bit of a rockier start. In three starts he has yet to finish a 6th inning and has already allowed nine walks, so if the Astros can stay at least a little patient at the plate they can find themselves some scoring opportunities. Karns did not have the same struggles with walks in 2015 so Houston needs to get while the gettin’ is good. He did face the Astros once in 2015, allowing just 1 ER over six innings while striking out eight.
Wednesday, April 27 – 9:10pm CDT
Collin McHugh (1-3, 7.56) vs. Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2, 3.81)
Man, I just don’t know. It’s tiring to watch the hit parade that always seems to ensue when McHugh is on the mound (he’s sporting a smooth 2.10 WHIP right now), and his start in the home opener against KC remains the lone bright spot in what has been a crappy season so far. The Mariners also went monster mash on him last year, tagging him for six home runs in three games and being responsible for McHugh’s worst outing of the year (3 IP, 8 ER) in June. Forgive me if I’m not brimming with confidence on this one, and I’m just hoping Fister and Keuchel can eat some innings ahead of this game.
Iwakuma has been a steady arm for the M’s for several years, and his record belies his performance so far. His losses against the Rangers and at the Yankees came with little run support behind him, and he did not get a decision in his best two starts in Arlington and Anaheim. He has also progressively worked deeper into games, turning in eight innings in his most recent start against the Angels. On the plus side, non-100-loss Astros teams have hit him pretty well: in six starts against Houston since 2014, he is 2-3 with a 5.61 ERA.