The Pallilog

No reason for Astros fans to panic

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Whistle if you thought the Astros would stink this season. If you are whistling you are a liar or an extremely negative person. But you would be right about the first week of the Astros' season. They stunk.

Two wins and five losses on their season opening road trip to St. Petersburg and Arlington was lousy. At no point last season did the Astros have a stretch in which they lost five out of seven road games played. This season's 2-5 stagger from the gate was put up the old-fashioned way, they earned it.

The prime culprit is the offense, which to be kind, has sucked. Opening Day the Astros scored 5 runs in beating last year's American League Cy Young Award winner. Their run totals by game since: 2, 1, 1, 4, 2, and 0. That's 10 runs total over the last six games. Of course, only silly people would be reaching for the panic button, those who I guess think Alex Bregman and Michael Brantley are going to hit .208 all season, and Jose Altuve .222.

The Astros spent on a franchise record-high payroll coming into this season, but so far it appears they forgot to include money in the budget to buy timely hits. Over the first seven games the Astros' batting average with runners in scoring position is 95. Not .195. .095. Four hits in 42 at bats. It is impossible for that degree of ineptitude to continue for much longer.

In the American League West, thanks to the Mariners very surprising 7-1 start the Astros are already four and a half games out of first place. The last time they were that far off the lead was the end of the 2016 season. For the Astros that was a postseason-less ending.

So while it's not remotely close to being at all make or break, this first homestand against the A's and Yankees takes on a little more importance than it would have seemed to carry a week ago. But If you'd like to bet me right now that the Astros won't make the playoffs this season, name your wager level.

On college basketball

Final Four weekend features the Texas Tech Red Raiders. In a twist on hell freezing over, Tech's presence perhaps explains the temperature in the 60s forecast for Minneapolis this weekend (snow is in the forecast for midweek). Tech and Auburn are both Final Four first timers. It would be amazing for both to reach Monday night's National Championship game. Neither is supposed to get there. Auburn is an underdog to Virginia as the Cavaliers make their first Final Four trip since they lost in the semifinals to the University of Houston in 1984. Texas Tech is a very small underdog to Michigan State which Tom Izzo has taken to the Final Four for an eighth time.

McCullough High School grad Chris Beard has done beyond spectacular work in three years as Head Coach of the Red Raiders, and rightfully will win the majority of college coach of the year awards. Kelvin Sampson is close behind him this season, so Coog fans should exhale with great satisfaction that Sampson has signed a new six year contract. Seems clear the Arkansas job opening merely set some parameters for Sampson's new UH deal. He earned the leverage, which no doubt helped his son Kellen get named "Head Coach in Waiting." Hey, if you were a Dad in the same spot you'd play the leverage card too.

Rockets down the stretch

The Rockets this weekend get to enjoy crushing the two worst teams (Knicks & Suns) in the NBA and then see what the stakes are for their regular season finale Tuesday at Oklahoma City. The Rockets and Trail Blazers have 28 losses with Portland holding the tiebreaker. The Nuggets have 26 losses and hold the tiebreaker over the Blazers. So…if the Rockets win out to finish 54-28, they need Denver to split its remaining four games for the Rockets to grab the number two seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are home for the Blazers Friday night, then play at Portland Sunday and then at Utah Monday before their regular season finale at home vs. the Timberwolves. Most simply, the Rockets want the Nuggets to win their two home games and lose their two road games. Combine that happening with a Rocket win over the Thunder and the Rockets have two rounds of homecourt advantage. Regardless, the Rockets have done phenomenal work recovering from their stumblebum 11-14 start, since then going 40-14.

Buzzer beaters

1. The Beard vs. The Freak: last time the NBA MVP winner didn't at least triple the runner-up in first place votes was 2008. Kobe Bryant over Chris Paul. 2. Do you already miss the AAF? 3. Teams that made surprising Final Four runs the season after losing their star: Bronze-2004 Georgia Tech (Chris Bosh) Silver-1983 Georgia (Dominique Wilkins) Gold-1984 Virginia (Ralph Sampson)


Blue Jays demolish Houston on Father's Day

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 12-0 loss

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Houston was seeking a series sweep on Father's Day after taking the first two games of the series with Toronto. Here is a quick rundown of the series finale:

Final Score: Blue Jays 12, Astros 0.

Record: 48-24, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Trent Thornton (2-5, 4.36 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Brad Peacock (6-4, 3.67 ERA).

1) Toronto jumps ahead early, gives Peacock trouble

The Blue Jays ambushed Brad Peacock in the top of the first inning, getting a leadoff triple then a one-out sac fly followed by a solo home run, grabbing a quick 2-0 advantage. Peacock seemed to settle in after that, allowing just one hit along with a few walks over the next three innings, but Toronto would double their lead in the fifth.

In the top of the fifth, Peacock allowed a leadoff double then a one-out two-run home run to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Yuli's brother, extending the Blue Jay's lead to 4-0. Peacock would finish the fifth but that would be it for him in a disappointing start. His final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 2 HR.

2) Thornton handles Astros' offense in return to Houston

Trent Thornton, originally drafted by Houston but traded away in the deal for Aledmys Diaz this offseason, was on the mound for Toronto on Sunday looking to show the Astros what they were missing out on. He accomplished his mission, holding the Astros to just six hits over six and two-thirds innings while keeping them scoreless over that span.

They'd have no luck against Toronto's relievers, either, getting shutout for the fourth time this season.

3) Jays keep scoring against the bullpen

After Peacock's day ending with five innings of work, Cionel Perez came in for the sixth to try and keep the game close. Instead, he allowed a leadoff single, a double, then a three-run home run to extend Toronto's lead to 7-0, an RBI-single to make it 8-0, then a second three-run home run later in the inning blowing the game open at 11-0 with a seven-run inning.

Perez was able to get through the next two innings without allowing any more runs, then with the game very out of reach, Houston put Tyler White on the mound to throw the ninth. White allowed a solo home run to push the lead to 12-0 but would get through the rest of the inning to end the pitching day for the Astros.

Up Next: Houston will travel tonight to kick off a full week of games starting with a three-game series with the Reds in Cincinnati. The first game of the series will start at 6:10 PM tomorrow and will feature a pitching matchup of Wade Miley (6-3, 3.14 ERA) for the Astros going up against Luis Castillo (6-1, 2.20 ERA) for the Reds.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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