TAKING A SWING

Barry Laminack: Astros could use a lineup change

Alex Bregman should move back up in the order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Astros have scored 190 runs this season, the thir\rd highest total in baseball. They are averaging 4.87 runs per game, putting them eighth overall in the MLB. But 78 of their runs have come in 9 games against two of the worst teams in the AL (White Sox - 3 games, 27 runs and Athletics - 6 games, 51 runs ). That’s a whopping 8.6 runs per game average versus those two teams.

In the other 27 games? The Astors are averaging 4.1 runs per game. That would put them tied for 21st in baseball. So while the 190 runs looks great on paper, it feels more like fools' gold to me.

And while it seems as if some of the bats have woken up (welcome to the party Marwin Gonzalez - who is slashing .333/.385/.458 over the last seven days), I think it might be time for AJ hinch to explore a lineup change, specifically moving Alex Bregman back to the 2 hole.

On the surface Bregman’s numbers are admittedly underwhelming. His .259 batting average and .399 slugging percentage aren’t great, but dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Bregman has been doing “the little things” at the plate that make a huge difference.

His .369 OBP is second on the team, his 11 doubles are second on the team, he has the 2nd fewest strikeouts (21) on the team among hitters with over 100 plate appearances (Altuve has 20), but most impressive to me are his 23 walks, good for first on the team and it’s not even close (Reddick is second with 19...I know that surprised me too).

Oh did I mention Bregman is also 1st on the team with 3 steals?

I think moving Bregman back to the No. 2 hole in the lineup could end up having similar results that moving Springer to the leadoff spot dead a while back. What better way to increase run scoring on a team than to have traffic on the base paths, and the numbers prove that Bregman can provide that as much as anyone else on the team.

And while I understand that moving Correa and Altuve down a slot means they will get a few less at bats, I think it's more than acceptable to do so since it will also create more run producing opportunities for them.

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Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans started fast but faltered late as the New York Jets hand Houston their ninth loss of the season 21-14. Here are 11 observations from the game.

1. Starting safety Justin Reid was benched for the game. David Culley said after the game it was his decision as head coach and he would keep the matter internal with Reid.

2. This is the third defender benched for disciplinary reasons this season. Reid joins Zach Cunningham and Desmond King as players who missed time for discipline.

3. Justin Reid told Fox 26 he was benched because he had a disagreement with the coaching staff. He also said he was shocked the Texans benched him. You have to wonder if the “culture” the team is building is right when one of the more likable and personable players falls victim to their rules. Reid, who is a free agent this offseason, could leave the Texans.

4. Tyrod Taylor had a couple of nice plays early on for the Texans. His willingness to take some shots downfield was refreshing and led to a touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks.

5. Rookie tight end Brevin Jordan found the end zone. He has played well in recent weeks after finally getting on the field. Jordan is playing over Jordan Akins as Akins was a healthy scratch again this week.

6. Tytus Howard started at left tackle with mixed results. Howard has struggled to find his way at guard but could be a long-term option at tackle if given the chance.

7. The offensive line overall played poorly after some early success. The pass rush of the Jets got going and the run blocking was poor again. Lane Taylor played at left guard some, with Max Scharping also playing some at that spot.

8. The offense was horrendous after the two scoring drives. The Texans amassed 202 net yards with 91 yards coming on those two scoring drives. Houston gained just 49 net yards after their opening three drives.

9. After the game, I asked David Culley if he would be making a change with his play-caller. Culley stood behind offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and said he would remain the team’s play-caller.

10. Second-year defensive lineman Ross Blacklock had two horrible errors that handed the Jets a chance to turn three points into seven points. Blacklock got a personal foul on a field goal attempt giving the Jets a first down. The very next play his offsides penalty erased a sack. Each week Blacklock falls even more behind a bevy of players drafted after him who contribute positively on a regular basis.

11. The loss to another bottom-dweller has the Texans back in the second spot in the 2022 NFL Draft order. It also feels like the deflating nature of this loss erased some of the good feelings after the victory over the Titans. The Indianapolis Colts come to Houston next week to begin December’s portion of the schedule.

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