Astros need more offense to compete
Sometimes, hitting is more important than pitching.
Anyone who watched the Astros’ bullpen blow leads after the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday and Sunday know this.’
Friday, Astros closer Jose Valverde earned his first blown save of the season when he gave up a two-run homer to Ramon Hernandez in the top of the ninth that turned a 1-0 Houston lead into a 2-1 deficit.’
Reliever Geoff Geary didn’t give Valverde a chance to bounce back Sunday, as Geary gave up a two-run double to Micah Owings in the seventh inning that gave the Reds a 3-1 lead. Geary also made a throwing error on Alex Gonzalez’s sacrifice bunt attempt that plated the Reds’ first run of the game and gave Owings a chance to give Cincinnati the lead.
Before fans begin to curse the bullpen, they should take a look at how many runs the Astros had scored up to that point – one. The Astros’ pathetic excuse for an offense has hampered their chances at starting the season well.
Entering Monday, the Astros’ .242 team average ranks 23rd in Major League Baseball this season. Houston is dead last in runs scored (36), second-to-last in RBIs (36), 29th in doubles and it is hitting .211 with runners in scoring position. There’s no other way to put it: the Astros’ offense is a joke.
Astros’ fans aren’t laughing, and neither are their pitchers. Houston’s 4.46 team ERA (entering Monday) is nothing to celebrate, but it isn’t as ugly when one throws out starter Brian Moehler’s (27.00) and reliever Wesley Wright’s (10.80) ERAs.’
The bullpen hasn’t been stellar, but protecting a one-run lead isn’t easy. Maybe if the offense scored more than three runs per game, the pitchers wouldn’t feel the need to press against every batter. If a pitcher walks a batter to lead off an inning when his team is up by one, the lead is already in jeopardy.’
With pitchers like Russ Ortiz (6.23 ERA) in rotation, the Astros need to rack up runs if they want to have any chance of being a respectable team this season. Fans shouldn’t expect a playoff run, because Houston sports the oldest lineup in MLB at 32.6 years per player.’
Pitching wins games, but when the offense is a joke, the pitching has to be perfect to avoid losses. Astros fans should get used to blown leads and lousy offensive outputs unless the offense can hit its stride soon.’
Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton won’t throw perfect games every time they are on the mound. Expecting them to shut down potent lineups regularly is not a formula for success. Neither is expecting an old lineup to score runs at will.