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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Astros bring 5-game losing streak to Minute Maid Park

 

Last updated 8/11/2020 at 8:16pm



Most of the players on the other 29 major league teams are really happy today

because the Houston Astros—the team that allegedly cheated to win the 2017 World

Series—have lost five games in a row. If the Astros were playing a regular 162-game

season, that losing streak would be 14 games.

They hope the streak continues into early October and Houston finishes the

abbreviated 60-game 2020 season 6-54.

Of course, in reality this can’t happen, but the Astros certainly don’t look like the

defending American League champions during the first two weeks of the season,

wallowing in fourth place in the American League West Division standings through

Sunday’s action, 5½-games behind the division-leading Oakland A’s, who are on a nine-

game winning streak.

The pitching staff is in a shambles with only two of last season’s five-man starting

rotation (Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers) healthy enough to pitch every five days.

The other three slots are taken by untested major league arms.

And the bullpen, which has been decimated by most of last year’s stalwarts due to

sore elbows, forearms and muscle strains, now consists of 10 rookies, many of which

haven’t played above Double AA so far in their careers.

But these rookies are coming in after the fifth inning in most games and holding

the opponent scoreless or with only one or two runs, hoping the offense can produce at

least a couple of runs. After this grueling 9-game road trip that ended Sunday, these 10

rookies have a combined earned run average of just a tad over 2.00.

It’s not as if the Astros are getting blown out in their nine losses, it’s just a matter

of their offense going dead after the fifth inning.

So far, Houston has played in five extra-inning games and has won only one. A

couple of those losses came after the Astros scored the go-ahead run in the extra innings

only to have one of their new “closers” blow the lead and the game. The last time

Houston was under .500 at least 10 games into the season was 2016.

New manager Dusty Baker’s hands are tied because of the lack of players with

major league experience.

But when it comes down to crunch time like on Thursday, with Houston leading

4-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Baker yanked out rookie Andre Scrubb,

who got four outs on just 13 pitches and owns a 0.00 ERA and inserted Ryan Presley,

who went into the weekend series with an astronomical 40.50 ERA.

Presley threw just 15 pitches and didn’t retire a hitter as the Astros lost 5-4 to

Arizona last Thursday. The loss ruined the first solid start of rookie Brandon Bialek (2-0),

who didn’t allow any runs over five innings of two-hit ball.

If Presley had done his job, Houston would have headed to Oakland for their

weekend series two-games over .500.

Several Astros’ regulars that are struggling include injured George Springer

(.182), Jose Altuve (.182), Alex Bregman (.219) and Martin Maldanado (.188).

Players off to fast starts are Carlos Correa (.345) and Michael Brantley (.313) in

games through Sunday and Zack Greinke (0-0) with a 3.00 ERA.

Closer Roberto Osuna has good numbers but is finished for the season after being

put on the 45-day Injury List Sunday, who may need another Tommy John surgery which

would sideline him for most of the 2021 season as well.

Other Astros on the Injured List include ace right-hander Justin Verlander,

slugger Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, Aledmys Diaz, Brad Peacock and Chris

Devenski.

KWICKIES…Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden must have a weird

sense of humor. The team logged on for a video meeting last week expecting to see

Gruden leading the call. Instead, NFL Network reports, they got special teams coach Rich

Bisaccia who said Gruden had been hospitalized due to complications of the coronavirus.

Gruden, who was perfectly healthy, said he was using the meeting (and the fear it

induced in the players) as a reminder for his team that the virus can affect anyone—all

the more reason to be extremely careful, both inside the team facilities and out in the

world. He had called upon Bisaccia for a little play acting.

Last week the University of Connecticut became the first member of the Football

Bowl Subdivision to abandon its schedule in full because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last weekend the Mid-American Conference (MAC) canceled its fall season with the Big

10 and Big 12 expected to follow suit before this Korner hits the streets.

At the same time, the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll has picked Clemson

No. 1 for the second straight year. Ohio State is second followed by Alabama, Georgia

and LSU in the top five.

The University Interscholastic League should be prepared to delay the fall sports

season while also working to write stronger and clearer policies. So far, the UIL has

postponed Class 6A and 5A football and volleyball for five weeks to Sept. 7 with other

sports and teams and lower classes remaining as scheduled for August.

Jadeveon Clowney, who refused to accept a lucrative contract with the Houston

Texans and play second fiddle to J.J. Watt, is having the same problem with the Seattle

Seahawks, where he remains unsigned. According to NFL Networks’ Michael Silver,

“the Seahawks appear to move on from Clowney, who wants more than Seattle is willing

to pay”.

JUST BETWEEN US…The pro golfing world found themselves a new hero, 23-

year-old Collin Morikawa who came up with an eagle-2 on the short par-4 No. 16 hole

Sunday afternoon to win the 102 nd PGA Championship by two strokes and the prestigious

Wannamaker Trophy that goes with the victory. It was only Morikama’s second start in a

major tournament. However, he is from the San Francisco area and was more familiar

with the TPC Harding Park golf course than most of the competition. Morikama joins

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as 23-year-old winners of the PGA

Championship. He won $1,980,000 and a lifetime exemption from the PGA and five-year

exemptions from the other three majors.

 

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