As strange as it sounds, the Astros hadn’t lost in over a week entering Saturday’s game against the Orioles. They hadn’t lost since May 23 in Seattle, to be exact. The ‘stros salvaged the final two games of their four-game set with the Mariners for a series split, then swept the Royals in Kansas City, and took the first two games of a four-game set at home against the Orioles. Even better, they had Dallas Keuchel — surprisingly one of baseball’s better starters through the season’s first two months — taking the hill in search of eight consecutive wins on Saturday.
It was not to be. While Keuchel pitched well, allowing three runs over six innings, Orioles starter Chris Tillman was even better, limiting the Astros to one run over 6 2/3 innings. The O’s bullpen nailed down the 4-1 win and at long last, the Astros lost a baseball game.
Over their seven-game winning streak, the Astros outscored the opposition 39-12 and picked up three games in the AL West. The 24-33 Astros are presently in a virtual tie with the 23-32 Rays for the worst record in the American League.
Rookie outfielder George Springer had a lot to do with the Astros’ success, .299/.413/.753 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI dating back to May 8. Not to be forgotten, second baseman Jose Altuve was slashing .369/.405/.500 with 11 stolen bases in the month of May prior to going 0-for-4 on Saturday.
The Rays were set to honor retiring Red Sox DH David Ortiz with a ceremony prior to Sunday’s game, but as Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports, the slugger requested it be canceled out of respect for Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who tragically died early Sunday morning in a boating accident.
Ortiz was seen tearing up as the Rays remembered Fernandez and held a moment of silence:
Kudos to Ortiz for doing the right thing.
With a fourth-inning solo home run off of Phillies starter Jake Thompson, Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson reached the 30-homer plateau for the fourth time in his 13-year career. It’s a moment worth celebrating, only there’s one problem: he has just 56 RBI on the season.
There are many reasons for the low RBI total. 24 of Granderson’s 30 homers have come with the bases empty. He came into Sunday’s action hitting just .140 in 124 plate appearances with runners in scoring position and .197 with runners on base. He has hit leadoff for most of the season, meaning he’s had the Mets’ pitchers hitting “ahead” of him in the No. 9 slot as well as the Mets’ catchers typically hitting eighth. Mets catchers, collectively, have a .296 on-base percentage, the second-worst mark in the National League.
Since the end of August, Granderson has hit cleanup with Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes hitting in front of him. That change hasn’t been for naught, as he has 17 RBI in 21 games since.
Still, Granderson is on pace for the fewest RBI in a 30-homer season. Rob Deer and Felix Mantilla are tied for the record with 64 RBI. Deer (32 HR) accomplished the feat in 1992 with the Tigers and Mantilla (30 HR) in 1964 with the Red Sox. Only eight players have had 70 or fewer RBI in a 30-homer season. Evan Gattis is currently sitting on 30 homers with 68 RBI.