To Lose With Pitching

Led by Bud Norris the Astros pitching staff has performed above expectations. Photo Courtesy: Rick Leal
Led by Bud Norris the Astros pitching staff has performed above expectations. Photo Courtesy: Rick Leal

By Will Martin

The term IRS could also take on new meaning as an acronym for the state of the AL West newbies-The Houston Astros!

It’s Really Simple. Or how about Indecision Rendered Sadly? Maybe It’s Run Support!

Something the Houston Astros have been in dire need of, but hey! DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT blame the efforts of the pitching!

After an ugly 1-5 start to the season the Astros would take a season series in Seattle-a noted pitcher friendly park-with a 24 run salute. Wins by the margins of 16-9 and 8-3 along with a 5-0 shutout of the Angels in Anaheim on Friday by Bud Norris (2-1).

Saturday night (the 13th) should have been a 4th straight win if not for an outfield miscue and an infield error that allowed for an Angels 9th inning comeback. Hence a 4-1 lead lost after the 7th 5-4. Which leads us to the hard luck of Perfect Game thrower of 2012: Philip Humber.

Do not blame the pitching! Philip Humber despite an 0-3 record has been money despite no run support with an era at 2.89. Philip also does not want your sympathy.

“As a pitcher, you can’t control wins and losses,” said Humber, who has a 2.89 ERA. “Our job is to go out there and give our team a chance to win when it’s our turn. There’s going to be times when they pick me up and I don’t deserve to win and I do. That’s happened a lot in the past. You just keep doing your job. Everyone’s doing their best and we’re going to put some wins together before too long.”

One out away from a win in Anaheim on Saturday night which would have ensured a second straight series win. This in a schedule to start in the AL West where 18 of the first 21 games will be against common opponents. When the Indians and Terry Francona come to town they will catch a break.

The Astros want you to know that worrying is the last thing they are going to do.

“We already know we’re better than people think we are,” center fielder Justin Maxwell said.

Back to pitching, overall the Houston Astros are ranked 19th with a team ERA of 4.26 after 12 games. If you merely go by the efforts of the Houston starting 5, the ERA goes down to 3.26. 11 times the starting pitching had held the opponent to three runs or less. A stat that has not gone unnoticed by skipper Bo Porter.

“The starting pitching has been outstanding the whole year,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “If we continue to pitch the way we’ve been pitching, continue to play defense the way we play defense — and we’re going to get our share of hits — we’re going to win quite a few ballgames.”

And to think we used to laugh back in 2007 when Ron Washington succeeded Buck Showlater and preched the ‘pitching and defense’ mantra that has brought 2 World Series trips to Arlington.

Bud Norris has an era at 1.89. He will be your workhorse of the rotation. You can argue that Philip Humber could get the bump to #2 and Lucas Harrell at #3. Harrell has also been a victim of hard luck.

12 games in I think of three games where-if not for an error for mental mishap in a home game with Oaklandand Saturday night’s meltdown-this could be a .500 team reeking havoc in the west. One would think that the hitting should be at a better vantage point than pitching.

There you have a bone of contention. Too many strike outs. 43 in the first three games with the Rangers. 121 after 12 games. Some of that from being too aggressive. Alot of it is from perhaps trying too hard. The K’s have been drastically reduced in the last week. As for Sunday’s loss here’s #44 with his take.

“I think every one of our batters had at least a 3-2 count at one time or another, so we did our job and saw a lot of pitches,” Maxwell said. “We just couldn’t muster anything off of him. [Saturday] night, the same thing with Garrett Richards — we hit the ball really hard, just right at people. As long as we stay confident in what we’re doing, we’ll be fine.”

I look forward to a return trip to Houston next weekend with the Cleveland Indians and Terry Francona. For a 4-8 start I’ll happily take the record with the great starting pitching Houston has been accruing. Now for the back end of that bullpen to tighten up a little. Namely Victor Ambriz, Xavier Cedeno, and Jose Veras.

The Astros now head to another pitcher friendly park in Oakland where Erik Bedard, Brad Peacock, and Bud Norris will take up the pitching duties against men like Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin, and Carlos Colon. Expect some fun 1-0 and 2-1 games.

Chris Carter now swinging a hotter bat with 4 homers and 7 RBIs while Jose Altuve finds his way on base hitting .333 and leading Houston with 17 hits. Justin Maxwell second with 14 and Chris Carter with 13.

Their slogan for 2013 says, ‘It’s A Whole New Ballgame’. May I also add, ‘It’s Been A Damn Fine Pitching Staff!’

Houston: I’d love to have your problem!