STOP MELTING DOWN

Patrick Creighton: Astros fans should be happy right now

George Springer and the rest of the Astros will start hitting soon. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

If I can steal a quote from Aaron Rodgers for all nervous Astros fans right now, it would be this:

R-E-L-A-X

There’s no reason to think they won’t be at their rightful place atop MLB at the end of the season.

I know they’ve lost three straight.  It has happened before. It will happen again.  It’s no big deal.

I know they aren’t hitting a lick right now.  It’s called a team slump. It passes. Consider the lineup.  You don’t really expect the whole team to be cold all season, do you?  

Realistically, when the team slump ends, a team streak will start.  This team can put up eight runs a game when they hit normally. Just wait until they are hot.

George Springer isn’t going to hit .224, Alex Bregman won’t bat .212.  Right now Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, and Derek Fisher are all riding the Interstate, and Yuli Gurriel just came back from wrist surgery.  

This team won the World Series last year, O Ye of Little Faith.  Have some confidence.

Yes, they’re “only” 10-7.  Believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

When you look at great teams of recent history, generally there’s anywhere from 2-4 hot streaks, and the rest of the year they hover around .500.  

For example:

1984 Detroit Tigers

The Tigers went 104-58 and won the World Series.  They got off to a 35-5 start, and had another 11-1 run later in the year.  That means the rest of the season they were 58-52. Close to .500 ball.

1986 New York Mets

The Mets went 108-54, and won the World Series.  They had three noted streaks during the year, 18-1, 16-3, and 11-2.  Those three hot streaks combined for a 45-6 mark, which means they were 53-48 the rest of the season, or just above .500.

1998 New York Yankees

I chose this team because they not only had an incredible record but because of the fact the Astros lineup is so deep, and that was one of the hallmarks of this Yankees team.  

These Yankees went 114-48 and won the World Series. They had four pronounced runs:  25-4, 20-4, 16-2, 15-2, which combined for a 76-12 mark. The rest of the season, the Yanks were 38-36.  

Are you sensing the pattern yet?

Here, let’s look at one more team that everyone reading this should be familiar with.

2017 Houston Astros

The reigning, defending, undisputed World Champions finished 101-61 last season. They had four distinguished streaks: 10-2, 14-3, 13-1, 14-3, combining to go 51-9.  They went 50-52 in the other games that year. How did it work out? (See the first sentence in this paragraph for a reminder).

Yes, the Astros are scuffling right now, and essentially haven’t been able to hit a beach ball for three weeks.  They are still 10-7. They’re playing near .500 ball while they struggle, and then the hot streaks will come.

By the way, have you noticed the revamped rotation?  You know, where three starters have ERAs under 1.40? The one that is striking batters out faster than trolls can post on Twitter?  

Take a deep breath.  R-E-L-A-X. This team will be just fine. The bats are asleep right now, but we all know what happens when you wake a sleeping giant.

Patrick Creighton is the host of “Straight Heat” on SB Nation Radio, which can be heard locally 9p-12a CT on SportsMap 94.1FM.  Look for his new show “Late Hits” coming to ESPN 97.5 weeknights 7-9p, debuting April 23rd.  Follow him on Twitter: @pcreighton1

 

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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