THE PALLILOG

Let's examine how a 60-game season could impact the Astros

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

So there's going to be a Major League Baseball season of sorts after all. We think so anyway. COVID-19 could weigh in further. After a pathetic and damaging negotiation between the owners and players, we wind up with a 60 game blink of a season. 37 percent of a 162 game schedule is not a legitimate season. That equates to a six game NFL regular season or a 30 game NBA regular season. No one would find either of those legit. But 60 is what we have. If you like baseball (or at least the Astros) it can be exciting, and it will do if for no other reason than it has to. The postseason format will be legitimate, but whatever team wins the World Series will not be a champion worthy of the same regard of any full season champ. That won't make winning worthless, but it will make it different and discounted in value.

If last season knocked off after 60 games, the eventual World Series winning Washington Nationals would not have made the playoffs. 60 games into the 2018 season the Dodgers would have been on the outside looking in. They wound up winning the National League pennant. A 60 game regular season in 2018 would have relegated the Astros to having to play in the American League Wild Card game, on the road at the Yankees.

Great teams can play mediocre ball over a 60 game stretch. In 2017 the Astros roared out of the gate destroying their competition. They started the season 42-17. They would wind up winning 101 games and the World Series. Yet, over a 60 game stretch from early July into mid-September the Astros went 29-31. Over 162 games baseball water nearly always finds its level. 60? A different animal.

Amidst all the fallout of a truncated season, the Astros lost their shot at becoming the first team to ever win at least 100 games for four consecutive seasons. The .617 winning percentage that yields 100 wins over 162 games translates to a 37-23 record over 60 games. Las Vegas has the scaled down Astros win total over/under number at 34 ½. That's two behind the Yankees, tied with the Twins, just one half game more than the Rays, one ahead of the Athletics. Using the Vegas numbers, if the Astros dipped to 31 wins (which is not a free fall from 34 ½) they'd miss the playoffs. The separation that occurs among teams over 162 games simply cannot happen over 60. It introduces a greater component of chance though not outright randomness.

With design of reducing travel, interleague play becomes a much larger element of the schedule. In a normal season teams play 20 games vs. the opposite league. They'll still play 20 this year, now that's one third of the schedule as opposed to 12 percent.

NBA

While baseball plans to play at all home stadia with the possible exception of Toronto, the NBA bubble plan marches toward a July 30 resumption of play. The Atlanta Hawks aren't among the 22 teams heading to Orlando, so Vince Carter formalized his retirement announcement Thursday. Carter was much more than a dunker though I think he's the best in game dunker I've ever seen. Yes including Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins. I didn't see enough early Dr J. Carter generated two different cool nicknames: "Air Canada" during his early Toronto Raptor seasons, and "Half Man, Half Amazing" courtesy of Kenny Smith. "Vinsanity" wasn't bad either. The surefire future Hall of Famer played in a record 22 NBA seasons. That's one more than Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parish, and Kevin Willis. Think LeBron James has five more seasons in him? LeBron is 35 years old and in his 17th season. Carter retires at age 43. Carter finishes up 19th on the NBA career scoring list. No player eligible for the Hall in the current top 40 all-time has failed to make the Hall. Most prolific scorer eligible for the Hall not elected? Tom Chambers.

Off the field

Quick hop up on a soapbox. Politely (or impolitely if it works better) guilt trip/shame those you know who are not wearing masks in public places. The Republican Governor of Texas and the Democrat Mayor of Houston agree masks are a must. Isn't that enough? The uptick in positive test percentages and hospitalizations is a saddening, angering, and pathetic testament to irresponsibility.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Is Major League Baseball possible with no spitting allowed? That's part of the health protocol. No saliva, tobacco, seeds, or shells permitted. Gum is ok though.

2. Cheers for Liverpool! Where The Beatles came from you know. And for the first time ever, home of the English Premier League champs.

3. Most memorable masked movie characters: Bronze-Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees Silver-Batman Gold-Hannibal Lecter

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Houston's offense once again obliterated Baltimore in Wednesday's finale. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Owners of a nine-game winning streak, the Astros tried to keep the train rolling to make it double digits and complete the three-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore. Not only would they get the win, but they also did it by dominating on both sides of the ball again in a one-sided shutout.

Final Score: Astros 13, Orioles 0

Astros' Record: 46-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (6-3)

Losing Pitcher: Thomas Eshelman (0-1)

Houston keeps mashing

Unlike Tuesday's game which ended 3-1 in a much closer affair, the finale on Wednesday was once again a lopsided affair like Monda's opener, favoring the Astros. Houston once again put up double-digit runs in an offensive explosion. It started right off the bat, with three runs scoring in the top of the first on a two-RBI double by Carlos Correa and an RBI single by Kyle Tucker to grab a 3-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel extended it to 4-0 with a two-out RBI single in the second, then Jose Altuve made it a six-run game with a two-run blast in the top of the fourth. Michael Brantley joined in with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, then Yordan Alvarez led off a four-run seventh with a solo bomb before a three-run homer by Abraham Toro made it 11-0.

Urquidy cruises through seven scoreless

Jose Urquidy was cruising all the while, allowing just three baserunners over that span, a double to start his night, which he erased, then a one-out walk in the second and leadoff single in the sixth. He returned at the bottom of the seventh with a manageable pitch count, where he'd erase a one-out single to keep Baltimore scoreless. With the insurmountable lead, he'd be given the rest of the night off. His final line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 P.

Astros complete the sweep and grab tenth straight win

Chas McCormick, who came off the bench defensively in the bottom of the seventh, made it a twelve-run lead with a one-out solo homer in the top of the eighth, then later Abraham Toro notched his fourth RBI with a run-scoring single to make it 13-0. Brandon Bielak took over for Urquidy in the bottom of the eighth, and after loading the bases with no outs, was able to escape with a strikeout and double play.

Ralph Garza Jr. was Houston's third pitcher, wrapping things up at the bottom of the ninth. He erased a one-out walk and a single with a double play to end the game, giving Houston the three-game sweep and extending their winning streak to ten games as they continue to look like baseball's best team.

Up Next: The next stop on this road trip for Houston is Detroit, where they will kick off a four-game set with the Tigers on Thursday at 6:10 PM Central. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Luis Garcia (5-4, 2.82 ERA) for Houston and Jose Urena (2-7, 5.79 ERA) for Detroit.

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