Let’s turn two, even if we lose two

One bright spot: The Astros’ defense leads the league in double plays, with 40.

That’s far more than the number of runs the Tigers scored against them in tonight’s game (17). So there’s that.

The Astros now stand at 8-23 on the season. That’s a winning percentage of .250. For the morbidly fascinated, that projects to a season total of 41 wins (rounded up) and 121 losses, which would just edge out the loss total of Marv Throneberry’s 1962 Mets.


Meanwhile, over in the National League

Meanwhile, over in the National League

O&BB follower Greg Stratton was texted this photo from his brother Gary, who is in Chicago for a work-related conference — and who had time to squeeze in a ballgame Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. He picked the right night to go. The poetic balance of National League baseball — something Astros fans don’t get to see anymore — was on full display that night. Both teams had an equal number of home runs (3 apiece), both teams ended the game with identical season records (10-16) … and both teams sent their pitchers up to hit. The Padres beat the Cubs, 13-7 — a pairing of the absolute luckiest and unluckiest numbers around. The score, I mean.

Suhwwwwing, batta!

ImageAbove: Young rookie Geo. Ruth of the Boston nine is retired on three strikes.

Transplanted Astros watcher Yancey Roy of Newsday, pausing from his coverage of New York politics to talk about more important things like baseball, asks this one:

Astros have 232 strikeouts (I think) in 23 games. 10 per game. What’s the MLB record for a season?

For the uninitiated: That’s strikeouts by Astros batters, not pitchers. The steady breeze being generated at home plate will allow Jim Crane to bump up the ballpark thermostat this summer, saving precious dollars toward Wandy Rodriguez’s contract player development.

Guesses, anyone?

I would’ve guessed the answer was the Rob Deer or Gorman Thomas era of the Milwaukee Brewers, when they swung hard for the fences and didn’t need no stinking batting averages. The Crew managed 1,040 team strikeouts in 1987 — led by Deer (186), Dale Sveum (133), Glenn Braggs (97) and Robin Yount (94).

And I wouldn’t have been close.

The record is freshly minted: In 2010, the Diamondbacks struck out 1,529 times. That’s an average of 9.4 K’s per game. (The AL record was set by the A’s just last year —  1,387 whiffs, and they didn’t even need Reggie Jackson.)

The 2013 Astros have struck out 248 times in 25 games. That’s an average of 9.9 strikeouts per contest. The sample size is small, but projects to historic futility: a record 1,604 strikeouts for a full season. Chris Carter leads the charge (43), followed by Rick Ankiel (29), and Carlos Pena (26) — a trio who have clubbed a combined 12 homers but have a cumulative batting average of .204.

However, the march to the record — and back to the dugout — may be slowed by the hand injury to Justin Maxwell (22 K’s) and the demotion of O&B Blog sentimental favorite Brett Wallace (17 in just 24 at-bats). But there’s still that chance. 

Thanks for your question, Yancey. And now, on with the countdown.




Rick Ankiel trivia

Here’s a bit of trivia that apparently went unnoticed by the scribes: Pitching coach Doug Brocail might’ve been a little wistful when Rick Ankiel — who has resurrected his career after being let go by last year the Nationals — homered on Opening Day in his first game for the Astros. That’s because ex-pitcher Ankiel, back in 2007, first resurrected his baseball career by returning as an outfielder, and homered in his first game game back … and the pitcher he went deep on was: Doug Brocail.

The long walk back

As of this writing (the Astros are demolishing the Mariners, poised to double their season win total), first baseman Brett Wallace is 1-for-20 (.050) on the season with 16 strikeouts. His one hit this season was a single on Opening Night, the poor guy.

Hang, on fans! Before you go …



A few firsthand observations on the Astros before they begin their first road trip of the season (as the fans head for the exits, above, as Justin Maxwell walks off after striking out to end the rubber match with the Rangers):

—Ronnie Cedeno brings poise and experience to the game. He looks like has has taken a eleventeen skintillion ground balls to short. Because he has.

— Brett Wallace had a decent spring and showed some pop … but seems lost, even discouraged, when striking out. It’s too small a sample to peg the season for him — he dipped below .100 and simply wasn’t putting balls in play — but you’ve got to wonder if all these whiffs put more pressure on him in what some see as a make-or-break season for him. Can’t help but root for the guy, considering his swing and the kind of power he’s shown from time to time.

— Don’t sit on the first base side for day games if the roof is open. I’ve done it too many times in the past — an Opening Day for one season, a closing day another year — and I still never learn. If the roof is open, the angle of the sun is murder for trying to see the game. One time, in desperation, I put on the souvenir batting helmet that came with my kid’s popcorn. I looked like an idiot — or like Greg Luzinski poised in the stands, ready to pinch-hit — but it was the only way I was able to make out Carlos Lee hitting a home run. 

— It’s a different Jason Castro this season, especially at bat. Reason: Health. It’s the Castro we were hoping he’d be.

— Don’t make the same mistake I did, repeatedly, during the opening series: It’s the American League, dummy, not the National League. Phil Humber had a decent start during the opening series, but somewhere around the fifth or sixth I actually wondered out loud if they were going to pinch-hit for him. I hope nobody heard me. My son did. At 11, he’s smarter than me. “It’s not even interleague,” he told me. I could hear his eyes rolling without even looking at him.