Astros-Brewers: Ugly. Actually, Make That Fugly.

The Astros started the month of May by sweeping the Milwaukee Brewers. The Astros ended the month of May, and started the month of June, by being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers. And as pretty as the beginning of the month was, just as ugly was the end.

There was a 5-1 loss on Friday. And Ben Sheets dominated the team on Saturday, getting a 4-1 win in a game which wasn’t as close as the score. And speaking of not being as close as the score, there was yesterday’s 10-1 loss which started with Mark Loretta hitting a homer in the first to put the Astros up 1-0, then quickly went downhill.

The pitching staff showed an inability to finish out an inning on Sunday. All of the first inning damage came after two outs, with Shawn Chacon getting those outs by strikeout. The first run came when Corey Hart beat out a grounder to first and Lance Berkman failed to throw home because he thought the third out had been made, allowing Ryan Braun to score from second base for the first of the Brewers’ four runs that inning.

Shawn Chacon left the game after the first inning, and according to Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies later in the game, Chacon was not injured, and the Astros PR staff did not provide them with a reason for his departure – I wonder if his attitude towards pitching coach Dewey Robinson when Robinson came out to calm him down had anything to do with it.

The game was ugly. The weekend was ugly. How ugly was it? Well, let’s just say that besides the lopsided score, yesterday’s game was so bad that Brad Ausmus got some playing time at first base. But seriously, this is the type of game to be expected when the vaunted offense fails to hit and the pitching fails to rise to a competent level.

The Astros have now lost five straight, and they have failed to score more than two runs in any of the losses. In fact, they have been outscored 28-6 in those five games. The team’s record is now 30-28, and while they continue to sink farther behind the first place Cubs and second place Cardinals, the fourth place Brewers are now only a half-game back of the Astros and the fifth place Cincinnati Reds are only a game back.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

Curses to Jim Deshaies. Curses. Now, whenever Jack Cassel pitches, all that I can think is that Ari Gold’s on the mound, and that between innings, he’s probably trying to negotiate a deal for Vinnie while exhorting Lloyd with every expletive in the book to get a job for Drama.

****************** I ran a feature called the Jose Lima Home Record Watch a couple of weeks ago. But thanks to the Chron’s stat guy, Zachary Levine, I now realize that the Astros are tracking several MLB home run records.

Roy Oswalt still leads the pack gunning for Lima’s NL record of 48 HR surrendered in a season. Oswalt has surrendered 16 HR in 76 innings. Brandon Backe is a close second with 14 HR in 67.1 innings, and Shawn Chacon is third with 12 homers surrendered in 69.1 innings.

But now I’ve learned from Levine that the record for home runs surrendered by a non-starting pitcher in a season is 23 by John Wyatt of the Kansas City A’s in 1964. But Oscar Villarreal is quickly closing in on this record, having surrendered 11 homers so far.

And the major league record for home runs surrendered by a team in a season is 241, set by the 1996 Detroit Tigers. The NL record is 230, which was set by the 2001 Colorado Rockies. But after 58 games, the Astros have surrendered 83 homers, and are currently on a pace to catch the Rockies while throwing a scare into the Tigers.

I want to point out something else, with those home run numbers, with a team-ERA ranked in the bottom third of the majors, and with only six teams having surrendered more runs, it’s remarkable that the Astros have a winning record and aren’t sitting in last place.

***************** The Astros are off today as they travel to Pittsburgh. They will play the Pirates for three to close out the road trip before returning to Houston for a nine-game home stand featuring the Cardinals, the Brewers, and the Yankees. – John Royal


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