Jose Reyes, Nate McLouth

The 2011 Braves are really freakin slow

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33 games into the season, the Braves are a remarkable 5-for-15 stealing bases. Now they’re not the only team in single digits when it comes to steals: the Cubs have just one more stolen base on the season. But to have been caught on two-thirds of their attempts makes this an historically awful start.

The Braves are currently on pace for 25 steals, which would be the lowest total since the Mets had 25 in 1994. The last team to finish with fewer than 25 steals were the 1973 Pirates, with 23.

Of course, the Braves aren’t really that bad. But unless they pick it up, they will join this list of the teams with the worst steal percentages since 2005:

Nationals 2005: 45/45 – 50.0%
Athletics 2005: 31/22 – 58.5%
Braves 2006: 52/35 – 59.8%
Tigers 2006: 60/40 – 60.0%
Royals 2005: 53/33 – 61.6%
Cubs 2009: 56/34 – 62.2%
Dodgers 2005: 58/35 – 62.4%
Cubs 2005: 65/39 – 62.5%
Indians 2007: 72/41 – 62.8%
Cardinals 2007: 56/33 – 62.9%
Rockies 2006: 85/50 – 63.0%
Giants 2010: 55/32 – 63.2%
Indians 2005: 62/36 – 63.3%
White Sox 2007: 78/45 – 63.4%
Cubs 2010: 55/31 – 63.9%
Royals 2007: 78/44 – 63.9%

The 2011 White Sox are also threatening an appearance, thanks largely to Juan Pierre’s awful start. They’re 18-for-36 stealing bases in the early going.

It’s hard to imagine the Braves finishing short of 30 steals, but they might fail to reach 40 unless they bring in some speed later on. The last team to steal fewer than 40 bases was the 2008 Padres.

Of course, the Braves can take heart that a team doesn’t need to be particularly good at stealing bases to win. Note the presence of the 2010 Giants on the list above.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.