Astros Lose Winnable Game to Good Team

Charlie Morton

No question about its nature. The Astros’ 4-3 loss to the Nats in their home series opener was a lost winnable game. The fine point here is that it was a lost winnable game to a really good team, the kind of loss that most often happens in a World Series game between two good teams, as indeed, both the Astros and Nationals each truly are. In essence, it’s a better read on how prepared a club is for the kinds of games that are coming up with the playoffs in October.

In our view of a winnable game, two teams are never far apart in runs throughout most, or all, of the nine innings of the game. In Tuesday’s opener, the Astros led early by 2, and never trailed by more than their 1-run final deficit. As the season progresses, however, we think that you develop a little refinement on your view of these “winnable games” – depending upon who the opposition and the starting pitchers are.

The better your club, the better your hitting, and the better your pitching, the easier it becomes to see every game you play as “probably” winnable against all the clubs that apparently aren’t as good as yours in those areas. The best example of this club in 2017 has to be the Los Angeles Dodgers versus any other club in baseball. Most teams, however, fall variably into those “good”, “mediocre”, and “bad” mental tags we seem to put on almost everything. And here’s where a club’s measurable qualities and the team’s belief in their own level of play is really important – and maybe even act as the difference-maker in a winnable game.

Example: If your “good team” fails to take advantage of a a big-run inning opportunity against a “bad team”, you may just shake it off and give it over to that old “maybe next inning” way of thought without too much concern that your assessed less worthy foes will do it to you first. Underestimating any foe is both human and dangerous. Any other MLB club can beat you, as the Astros just got refreshed to that possibility by the Oakland A’s.

On the other hand, if you miss out on one or more big scoring opportunities against another “good team”, you may also take it to the bank that your talented foe (see Washington Nationals) is going to make you pay through the nose for any failure to clutch hit in RISP situations, any failure to field or run the bases smartly, or, sometimes especially, pay instantly for any gopher balls served up over that big white part of home plate.

Charlie Morton has been a major part of the Astros’ success in 2017. And after the game Tuesday night, he took full responsibility for the pitches that slipped away from him and found the plate for the two big hits that plated all four of the Nats runs. A lot of those other aforementioned things cost the Astros their winnable game against Washington last night, but none were more glaring than those two gopher balls that Charlie Morton admittedly owned up to as regrettable mistakes in a couple of two-out Nats scoring situations. Morton was simply “man up” strong in his ability to take responsibility for his contribution to the totally lost winnable game:

  1. Top of the 3rd, Astros leading 2-0, Nats batting, 2 on base, 2 outs: Astros pitcher Morton grooves one to Howie Kendrick. Hendrick crushes the ball off the center field wall, scoring both runners; game now tied 2-2;
  2. Top of the 4th, Astros leading 3-2, Nats batting, 1 on base, 2 outs: Astros pitcher Morton grooves another one, this time to Matt Weiters, who blasts a 2-run homer off the center field wall above the yellow line; Nats take the 4-3 lead that they will never relinquish in the face of further clutch hitting failures by the Astros.

There’s always room for improvement, as long as we keep in mind the trinity of factors at play in making improvement happen:

Improvement occurs when we (1) have the goal that motivates us like an inner fire; (2) the ability to reach that necessary level of improvement for success to occur; and (3) a total commitment of ourselves to the opportunity.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST STANDINGS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017 

RANK AL WEST W L PCT. GB
1 ASTROS 76 49 .608  
2 ANGELS 65 61 .516 11.5
3 MARINERS 64 63 .504 13.0
4 RANGERS 62 63 .496 14.0
5 ATHLETICS 55 71 .437 21.5

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AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST GAME SCORES

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

 ANGELS 10 – RANGERS 1.

 BRAVES 4 – MARINERS 0.

 ATHLETICS 6 – ORIOLES 4.

 NATIONALS 4 – ASTROS 3.

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AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING AVERAGE LEADERS

THRU GAMES OF TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2017

RANK PLAYER TEAM AB H 2B 3B HR BA
1 JOSE ALTUVE HOU 477 171 35 3 19 .358
NR * CARLOS CORREA HOU 325 104 18 1 20 .320
2 AVISAIL GARCIA CWS 387 123 21 3 13 .318
3 ERIC HOSMER KC 473 149 23 1 20 .315
4 DIDI GREGORIUS NYY 397 123 21 0 18 .310
5 JEAN SEGURA SEA 402 124 23 1 7 .308
6 MARWIN GONZALEZ HOU 348 106 22 0 21 .305
7 DUSTIN PEDROIA BOS 340 103 17 0 6 .303
8 GEORGE SPRINGER HOU 416 126 24 0 28 .303
9 JONATHAN SCHOOP BAL 474 143 30 0 27 .302
10 JOSE RAMERIZ CLE 467 140 39 5 18 .300
Other Top 40 Astros
13 JOSH REDDICK HOU 386 115 25 3 12 .298
15 YULI GURRIEL HOU 430 127 33 1 15 .295
34 ALEX BREGMAN HOU 416 115 30 5 15 .276

NR * LOST TIME ON THE DL HAS TEMPORARILY REMOVED CORREA FROM AN OFFICIAL QUALIFYING PLACE IN THE RANKING OF TOP 40 HITTERS.

 

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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