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Lance Zierlein: I started an Astros Civil War

Lance Zierlein: I started an Astros Civil War
Jose Altuve continues to pile up massive numbers. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for my role in starting the Great Astros Civil War of 2018. It was unintentional. I promise. I didn’t begin my Twitter comments with hate in my heart—I simply said what I thought all Astros fans were thinking. I had no idea that so many of us are not on the same page.

It started innocently enough with a graphic that was re-tweeted to me.

Of course, I took one look at that tweet and retweeted it adding the comment:

“Uh...........‘real possibility’ ??? Yeah..... it's already a thing.”

Now, it was my understanding that we were all on the same page here as Astros fans. Remember that incredible World Series win and the subsequent celebrations? Remember Altuve’s three-homer game in Boston? Remember Altuve’s MVP season and third batting crown in four years? Yeah, that didn’t really matter to some of you who are ready for a Saturday Twitter scrap.

To begin with, my first thought was “Wait…. it’s Jeff Bagwell and not Craig Biggio? I thought it was probably Biggio.” I actually tweeted that and it definitely touched off a skirmish. The sabermetric watchdogs feverishly searched BaseballReference.com to hit me with as many forms of “WAR” as they could to prove that Bagwell > Biggio. Baggy’s 1994 was astounding. As baseball historian Bill James pointed out years ago, it was one of the great offensive seasons of all time. With that said, he never reached that level again for the rest of his career.

Bagwell‘s numbers were great, but also heavy on power (in the midst of the most infamously tarnished era in baseball) and light on production when it matters most—in the playoffs. Bagwell played in 33 postseason contests with a career batting average of .226 and an OPS of .685. As a point of reference, his career average was .297 with an OPS of .948. Altuve’s best season didn’t come in his fourth year. No, his best work has come over the last two seasons with this year’s MVP season as his finest.

Oh, and about the postseason. He’s played in 24 career playoff games with a batting average of .268, but an OPS of .842 which is higher than his .816 career OPS. Did I mention he has 7 postseason home runs to Bagwell’s 2? And Altuve is getting better with each passing season. Did Bagwell ever figure out how to quiet those hands and improve his contact? No. Did Biggio ever learn to lay off the slider away? No. Altuve, on the other hand, was so disappointed in his approach to curveballs that he worked tirelessly on it in the offseason and ended up hitting over .400 against the pitch this season.

There were Bagwell vs. Biggio battles. There were Bagwell vs. Altuve arguments and there was even an Altuve vs. Joe Morgan argument made by one fan that believed that Morgan was a better Astros second baseman than Altuve *eye roll emoji*. I understand the argument that Altuve hasn’t reached the statistical achievements of Bagwell or Biggio, but that’s an apples to oranges argument since we are simply waiting for time to pass so the sample size is more even. He’s on a Pete Rose pace in terms of hits. He doesn’t have to get to 3,000 hits or 400 home runs for him to match or pass Bagwell or Biggio as the greatest Astro ever.  No. Altuve did something in the postseason that will live with Astros fans forever. Altuve as the undisputed “greatest Astro” is just a matter of time. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

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Astros drop the series to the Angels. Composite Getty Image.

Rookie Kyren Paris hit a two-run shot for his first major league home run and Tyler Anderson pitched eight strong innings to lead the Los Angeles Angels to a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

The Angels took two of three games from the Astros to give them three straight road series wins in a single season for the first time since 2019.

Anderson (5-4) allowed six hits and one run in his third consecutive win, which came in his longest start of the season. Luis García struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his third save.

Mickey Moniak walked with one out in the fifth inning before Paris launched an off-speed pitch from Hunter Brown (1-5) off the wall in left-center field to make it 2-0.

Jake Meyers opened the bottom of the inning with a walk before scoring on Mauricio Dubón’s double to the corner of left field to cut the lead to 1. But Dubón was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Meyers and Dubón hit consecutive singles with two outs in the seventh and Meyers advanced to third on the play after an error by left fielder Taylor Ward. Anderson escaped the jam when Victor Caratini grounded into a force out to end the inning.

Brown gave up two hits and two runs while walking three in six innings.

Paris walked with one out in the third and advanced to third on a single by Nolan Schanuel. Luis Rengifo hit a grounder to Jose Altuve and his throw home was just in time for Caratini to tag a sliding Paris at the plate.

The Angels challenged the call, but it was upheld.

Houston’s Jeremy Peñahit a ball that bounced off the wall in left field with two outs in the fourth that initially was called a homer. But umpires reviewed the call, and it was changed to a double.

Los Angeles shortstop Zach Neto left the game with two outs in the sixth inning with right elbow soreness. Luis Guillorme entered the game to play second base and Paris moved from second to shortstop to replace Neto.

ABREU’S NEXT STEP

Struggling first baseman José Abreu is scheduled to play two games for Triple-A Sugar Land this weekend before returning to the Astros. The move comes less than a month after the 2020 AL MVP agreed to be optioned to the minors to work on his swing.

Abreu batted .099 with just one extra-base hit and three RBIs in 22 games this season before his demotion.

Manager Joe Espada said the Astros want Abreu to play a full nine innings in the games this weekend to prepare for his return to the majors.

UP NEXT

Angels: Los Angeles is off Thursday before hosting Cleveland in the opener of a three-game series Friday night, when LHP Patrick Sandoval (2-6, 4.59 ERA) opposes LHP Logan Allen (5-2, 4.91).

Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before opening a series at Oakland on Friday night with Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97) on the mound. The Athletics haven’t named their starter.

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