Astros tall road back should be jumpstarted by its most critical on-field challenge, which is...

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Astros tall road back should be jumpstarted by its most critical on-field challenge, which is...
They can't afford to waste any time. Composite Getty Image.

After another series loss over the weekend, the Astros have Monday off to regroup as they have the Cubs up next on the schedule before they head to Mexico City to play the Rockies.

So far for the Astros this season, nothing is coming easy and the injury bug continues to bite the club. The Astros got Justin Verlander back over the weekend, but loss Cristian Javier to the injured list with neck discomfort.

Hunter Brown pitched for Javier on Sunday and surrendered three runs before recording his first out. It's hard to imagine he'll be in the starting rotation when Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy, and Cristian Javier return from the IL.

With the Astros currently sitting at 7-16, it's difficult not to point the finger and play the blame game. And there's plenty of it to go around. Let's start with the back of the bullpen. Ryan Pressly and Josh Hader have been a disaster. They are the highest-paid pitchers in the 'pen, and no lead seems safe when they enter the game.

We can blame the offense for struggling with runners in scoring position all we want, but if the team can't hold a lead, they're not going to win many games. The middle relief hasn't been the problem, Seth Martinez, Rafael Montero, and Tayler Scott all have ERAs under three. Who saw that coming? Pressly and Hader both have an ERA over eight and are killing the team late in games.

On the bright side, these are players with a long history of success. If they can get back on track and get healthier in the starting rotation, the pitching should be okay. But they are running out of time. They're just lucky they play in the weak AL West.

The elephant in the room

Astros GM Dana Brown addressed Jose Abreu's putrid start to the season in an interview with Astros broadcaster Robert Ford over the weekend.

Thankfully, Brown did not go with the “back of the baseball card” excuse. He acknowledged that they can't keep playing him every day and hoping he gets better. They're going to give some other guys some playing time at first base and hope Abreu figures it out because, “…he's got to climb out of it or else we're going to have to mix and match because it's tough to keep going in that direction.”

Finally! The dude is hitting .068! And this team has no margin for error. If they don't snap out of it soon, they are not making the playoffs. The problem here is there aren't a lot of good options at first base. Jon Singleton is hitting .229 with zero home runs and zero RBIs. I wouldn't mind seeing Yainer Diaz play some first base and let Victor Caratini catch more often. And considering Abreu's struggles on defense, (4 errors already) would Diaz be that much of a downgrade? Caratini isn't a plus offensive player (.276 batting average this season), but he's a way better option than what Abreu is giving you. Mauricio Dubon could also be an option at first, but it doesn't look like the team is considering that at the moment.

We all hoped the version of Abreu we saw in the playoffs would carry over to the 2024 season, but it just hasn't happened. We're disappointed about it, but not surprised. Which brings us to Alex Bregman. He's a notorious slow starter, we get it. But how long can he continue to hit third or fourth in the lineup?

Can't we move him down a couple of spots in the order until he starts producing? He's hitting .213 with zero home runs on the season.

Be sure to watch the video above as we address all the issues that are plaguing the Astros, and identify some solutions that could help turn things around!

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Astros defeat the Brewers, 9-4. Composite Getty Image.

HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Tucker homered twice to tie for the major league lead with 15 and drove in four runs, leading the Houston Astros over the Milwaukee Brewers 9-4 on Sunday for their ninth win in 11 games.

After striking out in his first three at-bats, Tucker decided to change his cleats from a pair of lime green Astros mascot Orbit-themed ones to his normal orange pair.

“I just didn’t really have great first three at-bats with them,” Tucker said. “I just decided to come in and swap them back out for my other cleats and it ended up pretty well for me.”

Jose Altuve hit his 37th leadoff homer in a four-run first inning and Jake Meyers had three hits for Houston, which took two of three from the Brewers and improved to 21-26 with its third straight series win.

“You’ve just got to pile up wins, especially series wins, throughout the year,” Tucker said. “At the end of the year it will be what it is.”

Tucker hit a solo homer to right in the sixth off Thyago Vieira and a three-run, opposite-field drive to left in the seventh against Mitch White.

“He’s playing on a different level right now,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “He’s a really, really good player.”

Tucker tied Baltimore’s Gunnar Henderson at 15 home runs after his third multi-homer game this season and the sixth of his big league career.

“I just try to get pitches over the plate and try and barrel them up and they just happen to fall for homers,” Tucker said. “It’s not like I’m trying to lift the ball and start hitting them. It just kind of comes with pitch selections and trying to barrel balls to the outfield.”

Rookie Spencer Arrighetti (2-4) won his second straight start after going 0-4 in his first five. He allowed four runs and six hit with six strikeouts and two walks over 6 1/3 innings, his big league high.

“I think my general presence is getting a little better,” Arrighetti said. “Obviously, that team runs really well and I gave up a couple stolen bases, but as soon as that happened I feel like I was able to make a good adjustment with controlling the running game a little bit and still being able to execute pitches while doing that.”

Colin Rea (3-2) gave up five runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings.

“He didn’t have command of his stuff and Colin’s a command pitcher,” Brewers manager Pat Murphy said.

After Christian Yelich’s RBI single in the first, Houston went ahead for good on Altuve’s homer, Jon Singleton’s run-scoring groundout and Meyers’ two-out, two-run double.

Brice Turang had a two-run single in the seventh and scored on Yelich’s single.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: LHP DL Hall (knee) pitched one inning and struck out one for Class A Wisconsin on Sunday in a rehab start.

Astros: OF Chas McCormick (hamstring) went 2 for 4 with a single, double and a stolen base as the designated hitter for Double-A Corpus Christi on Sunday. Ryan Pressly (sore finger) threw a bullpen on Sunday. He has not pitched since Tuesday.

UP NEXT:

Brewers: RHP Joe Ross (2-4, 4.61) starts for Milwaukee against LHP Ryan Weathers (2-4, 3.81) on Monday to open a three-game series at Miami.

Astros: LHP Framber Valdez (3-1, 2.95) starts for Houston at home on Monday in a series opener against LHP Reid Detmers (3-4, 5.19) and the Los Angeles Angels.

BY JOSHUA KOCH

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