Astros-Reds: No Fundamentals, No Way

I’ve tried to defend Michael Bourn this season. Sure he didn’t hit. But I thought his speed and fielding skills made up for everything else. After last night, however, I’m not sure I can continue to defend him.

The Astros were locked in a tight, 2-1 pitcher’s battle when Kaz Matsui led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. He was erased at second when Bourn’s bunt wasn’t good enough. Bourn was safe at first, then stole second. Miguel Tejada then singled to left field. Bourn rounded third. Then stopped. Tejada, seeing Bourn round third, tried to head to second, then made sure to get himself trapped in a rundown so that Bourn could score. Only Bourn remained planted on third base. Berkman was then walked, and Geoff Blum lined out to end the inning.

I had great seats last night, in the diamond boxes, on the second row, just a matter of seats to the left of Drayton McLane. And I saw Tejada motioning for Bourn to head home. And I saw Bourn standing at third. I don’t know what third base coach Ed Romero was doing – it looked like he was just standing there – but he sure wasn’t getting the attention of Bourn.

Bourn’s failure shouldn’t be too surprising, I suppose. The Astros this season, as in past seasons, have looked to be bad on the fundamentals. And when the fundamentals are bad, a team is going to eventually suffer.

And last night, suffer the Astros did.

The Astros 2-1 loss, coupled with the win by the Mets, dropped the Astros to 4.5 games behind New York with six games to play. The Astros essentially need to win every remaining game, while hoping the Mets lose the rest of theirs. And while a complete collapse by the Mets is not without historical precedent -- see last season's choke job -- with Johann Santana set to pitch for the Mets on Sunday afternoon, I would think that the odds are more in favor of CenterPoint hitting its power restoration deadlines than they are of the Mets losing five straight.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

Bourn’s base-running gaffe wasn’t the only Astros screw up of the night.

Ty Wigginton made a monumental blunder in left field that allowed the game’s first run to score. I’ve mocked Carlos Lee’s fielding abilities in the past, but I don’t think that even Lee has ever looked as bad as Wigginton did on that one play.

And Reggie Abercrombie got caught too far off of second base in the bottom of the ninth inning last night, and was thrown out as part of Ty Wigginton lining out to shortstop to end the game. -- John Royal


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