AL West leader
Overall record (through Sunday): 86-57
Last week: 3-4
This week: Off Monday; at Los Angeles Angels (Tue.-Thu.); vs. Seattle Mariners (Fri.-Sun.)
It’s hard to get a good read on the Astros. Stop if you’ve heard us say that here before. One series the team looks outstanding and fully capable of challenging for the American League pennant. The next it looks completely lost with the pitching in utter disarray.
But what else is new?
Since we’ve been doing these updates, Houston has been arguably the most erratic team. If we had done these updates thought the season, the Astros would have had all the superlatives dropped on them throughout the first half of the season. Since then, it’s been anyone’s guess which team will show up.
Kansas City Royals
The most disturbing trend is how the team seems to let the first game dictate how a series goes. You have to go back to the beginning of July to find the last instance of the Astros losing the first game of a series and coming back to win it. That’s probably hard to even wrap your head around.
Since overcoming a June 30 loss to the Yankees with wins on July 1 and 2, the Astros have lost a series-opener on eight occasions and either lost or split all of those series.
The opposite has generally held true, as well. During the same time span, Houston has opened a series with a win 11 times. The Astros have either won or split in nine of those series.
July deadline failure took the blame for an August swoon, but bold moves at the end of August appeared to have righted the ship. At least until this past weekend.
The Astros opened September with consecutive sweeps of the Mets and Mariners. But following a day off Thursday, Houston got drilled in four straight games by lowly Oakland. The team seemed to let a tough 9-8 loss on Friday carry over into the rest of the weekend, losing both games of a Saturday doubleheader and Sunday’s finale by a combined 32-7 margin.
Which Houston will we see this week? Probably both, and we’ll assess what it means in this same spot next week.