In many ways, the 4-11 Houston Astros have gotten off to the type of the start to the season that most in the baseball world had anticipated.
Much of it goes back to their starting pitching, which is currently at 24th in the bigs with a 5.02 ERA. That’s going to lead to a whole lot more downs than ups through the year, and on Wednesday, the team was unable to stop a series sweep at the hands of new divisional rival Oakland Athletics, as the team’s losing streak was extended to five thanks in large part to Bud Norris‘ 0.2-inning, six-run implosion on the mound.
Sounds a little bit harsh to be singling out one aspect of the team? Nah, not when they’re tied for 14th in runs scored, and not while they have Jose Altuve.
In fact, the second baseman was a major part of the reason why Wednesday’s 7-5 loss for the Astros even got that close.
The Astros notched a grand total of 11 hits on Wednesday, and it was Altuve who led the field with three knocks on the night. The 22-year old scored both the team’s first run, and capped off a three-run rally in the seventh inning that made it 7-4.
In other words all he did was just exactly what he’d done pretty much throughout his young career: provide the spark for the offense.
Much like 2012, Altuve has been off to a fantastic start, having posted a .365/.412/.460 triple slash over his first 64 PA and leading the team in hits (23), and is third in RBIs with eight. Let’s put it this way — the fact that he’s only scored six runs all year and has driven in more tells you more about the batters behind him than it does for how well he’s doing right now.
Sure, he hasn’t exactly shown much of his 33-steal speed from 2012 yet, though it’s worth noting that he did swipe his first base of the year on Wednesday.
Alas, not even having a potential star-in-the-making at leadoff can help when the team is down 6-0 by the end of the first, and unless Altuve can be a difference-maker on the mound too, performances like this will have to continue going into the ‘signs of a promising future’ bin.