Every-Thing Sports

Jermaine Every: Remember the Tombstone?

It's too early for the tombstone. Courtesy photo

Sports give us a rollercoaster ride of emotions. The ups and downs can often times be enough to cause us actual physical pain, or euphoric amounts of dopamine to block out life’s ills. There are some sports moments we simply won’t forget. Your team’s first title win. The time you last saw your favorite player play. Where you were when some of these things happened.

On the flip side, there are also moments of regret. For example: when you burned the jersey of a player that left your team, when you said you’d never watch another game of (insert team or sport name here), perhaps you’ve been guilty of rooting against your team for whatever reason, or maybe you’ve prematurely predicted your team’s demise. That was the case for the Houston Astros back in 2005.

On Wednesday June 1, 2005, the Houston Chronicle published one of its most infamous Sports section covers when it depicted the Astros season on a tombstone. The Astros were 15-30 at the time and were seemingly dead in the water. They were like the fish in the bowl you’re ready to flush because it appears to be floating lifelessly, but suddenly it comes to life and swims like it never has before. That team went on to make the World Series by riding the wave of a great pitching staff. Although they got swept by the Chicago White Sox, they were able to make it that far after being counted out.

I bring that up because the 2018 Astros are being written off as if they are falling short of the expectations after winning a World Series last year. Fans are hitting the panic button so hard and so frequently that it may be broken already after only ten percent of the season has been played! Through sixteen games, the 2017 Astros were 11-5, scored 67 runs, and allowed 55 runs. Meanwhile, the 2018 Astros are 10-6, have scored 67 runs and have given up 49 runs props to @itsdtrain on Twitter for the reminder).

Houston sports fans are notorious for hitting the panic button, and doing so much too soon. Some Astros’ fans are already in full-blown panic mode. They are now 10-7 after last night’s 2-1 loss, which means they’re about ten percent into this season. Does anyone rush to judgment after the first game if the Houston Texans lose? What if the Houston Rockets are 5-3 after their first eight games? Does their fan base lose their minds and freak out thinking the season is lost?

Sure, the starting pitching isn’t where fans would like it to be (particularly Dallas Keuchel, which is why I think they should move him at the trade deadline this year). Of course the bullpen (mainly the “closer” Ken Giles) could be better, but there’s time left to figure that out. The bats are seemingly asleep, however, they have 145 games left to wake up and mash like they did in previous seasons. Yes, the Los Angeles Angels are in first place and seem to have bounced back, but how long can they enjoy this much success and maintain first place in the division?

It’s too early to punt on the Astros this season. Blame the dreaded World Series hangover if it makes you feel better, but this team is different. They have a great blend of vets who have been through the wars, and young guys who don’t know any better. I firmly believe they’ll right the ship soon and get back to their winning ways. The starting pitching staff has a chance to be one of the best in baseball. The lineup can easily correct itself and become more feared. The only position that seems as if it may be shaky all season is the bullpen. But with a few tweaks and changes, it too can become a stronghold for this team. I’m not ready to hit the panic button on the Astros, and neither should you.

Catch more of my opinions on Twitter, on The Sideline podcast with Craig Koshkin, or right here on SportsMap.

 

 

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Houston now focused on postseason

Altuve and Correa homer, Astros drop final regular-season game

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With no playoff impact at stake if the Astros won or lost the game, Houston took Sunday's final regular-season game as a chance to get their lineup a few more at-bats before shifting focus to Tuesday's first game of the post-season. Here is a quick recap of the game against the Rangers:

Final Score: Rangers 8, Astros 4.

Record: 29-31, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Wes Benjamin (2-1, 4.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Chase De Jong (0-1, 14.73 ERA).

Houston's main bats get a final tune-up

Knowing they'd only have a couple of at-bats to work with, some of Houston's big bats took advantage, starting with Jose Altuve. He crushed a pitch in the top of the first, a solo homer to put the Astros in front 1-0. After the Rangers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second, Altuve started the third with a walk before moving to third base on a Michael Brantley single, which improved Brantley's season average to .300.

Aledmys Diaz would pick up the RBI on a groundout to score Altuve, putting Houston back in front 2-1. In Correa's last at-bat in the top of the fourth, he extended the lead to 3-1 with a solo home run of his own.

Rangers hand Astros a loss to end the regular season

After getting the early run against Chase De Jong, the Rangers would put together a big inning against him in the fourth. After two one-out singles, Rougned Odor would give Texas their first lead of the day on a three-run homer to make it 4-3.

De Jong would continue to struggle in the inning, getting just one more out while loading the bases, prompting a move to the bullpen to bring in Nivaldo Rodriguez to try and eat up more innings. The Rangers greeted him with a two-RBI single to extend their lead to 6-3 before ending the fourth. Odor would hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, a solo shot to make it a four-run lead at 7-3.

Rodriguez allowed another run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 8-3. Diaz, who drove in a run earlier, would account for another RBI in the top of the eighth, getting Houston's third solo homer of the day. That would make it an 8-4 game, which would go final as the Rangers would win the regular season's last game.

Up Next: Houston's first game of the playoffs will be on Tuesday, with the start time and opponent TBD while the rest of today's games wrap up, and the schedule is announced. Regardless, the Astros are expected to begin that best-of-three series with Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

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