The Astros’ and Rangers’ benches cleared on Saturday after Hank Conger and Rougned Odor exchanged words. Conger felt Odor was taking too long to get into the batter’s box, and things escalated from there. There was some shoving, but nothing serious.
Keuchel, however, felt Odor disrespected the Astros (per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle), so he went out and tossed seven shutout innings with 13 strikeouts on Sunday, allowing only two hits while refusing to issue a walk. The lefty now sports a 12-4 record with a 2.12 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 127/34 K/BB ratio in 144 1/3 innings. Keuchel remains the American League leader in ERA and moves into the league lead in wins.
The takeaway may be that giving Keuchel bulletin board material may be a bad idea.
The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.
After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.
Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.
Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:
In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?