Today the Astros are going to Texas for some three game outcall. Texas has disintegrated down the stretch and Ronnie Washington was able to pick up the phone and get some three game action with the hoes.
In reality, this visit was scheduled a long time ago, by the league planners. They anticipated the Texas fade, hence they gifted Texas this three game set in the final week at home. So far this year, the season series between the two Texas cities (say that 3x fast) has gone as follows: Rangers 14 Wins, Astros 2 Wins.
Outside of the games with the Astros, the Rangers are actually roughly a .500 ball club, and probably won't make the playoffs this season. 70-69 + (And then add on their 14-2 Astro record)
The Astros are the MLB's best fertilizer for the outcomes the league wishes to "Schedule". Case and point, the grand finale of the season, the heated rivalry between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees comes to a head in the last three games. If the Yankees were even close to a playoff spot, the league wanted to have a slip and slide to the playoffs "scheduled" in.
The Astros won more games against the Angels this season than they won against any other team. They were the league's worst team this season, the Astros that is, with only 51 wins so far. The Angel's are simply the league's most disappointing team of the year. 10 times this year the Angels have lost to the worst team in baseball.
None more painful than the 4 game series at home at the end of May/beginning of June, which might have been the turning point for the entire Angels' season. The team had scratched and clawed it's way back from a horrible start to find itself, only 4 games under .500, with the next 6 games at home, the Angels were (25-29).
- Game 1. Astros win 6-3. Albert Pujols sits. Hanson pitches into the 7th and a couple batters too long...
- Game 2. Astros win 2-0. Jerome Williams pitches solid start for Angels, give up a single with 1 out in the 7th inning... is left in to face the heart of the lineup and gives up a 2run homer to Carter moments later...
- Game 3. Astros win 5-4. Notables in this loss, C.J. Wilson provides a quality start, the team is down 3-2 heading into the 9th and Scioscia brings in Garrett Richards, who gives up 2 singles to start the inning... the next thing we know the team is down 5-2... Richards is a quality starter, and doesn't embrace the relief role... the Angels rally to score 2 in the bottom of the 9th and lose by 1...
- Game 4. Astros win 2-1. In the single finest moment of Joe Blanton's Angel's pitching season, Bluto pitches 8 innings giving up only 3 hits, 2 earned runs, walking zero and striking out 11. The Angels' squander Blanton's best start of the season, and he receives a loss going to 1-9.
When the series was over, the Angels found themselves 25-33, while the Astros were now 21-37. The difference between sweeping the Astros, or getting swept by them, may just have been the turning point of the entire season. If the Angels had taken care of business at home, using the 3 quality starts they did have, using Blanton's best game of the year, using quality starts by Williams and Wilson, they might have hit the .500 mark by June 3rd at 29-29. From there it would have been a whole new season, instead here we are 90 games later, 3 games under .500 with 7 left to play. Never did this Angels team get a breath of winning baseball this year, drowning in sub .500 baseball since the 3rd game of the season (1-2).
While "pitching" is the reason the Angel's didn't contend this season; this Angels team was still capable of more than Mike Scioscia was able to pull out of them. The sum of the parts does not equal the outcome, and this team under performed. Yes there were injuries, there were challenges, etc, but at the end of the day, when your team provides you with 3 quality starts at home in a 4 game series against the worst team in baseball, there has to be a way to manage a couple victories out of that.
Can we manage to beat the Astros next year?