The season has already taught us that you can’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Sometimes it has looked like we were about to face a weak opponent only to have them rise up to perform as superstars, if only for a short time. We can quibble over whether those opponents were really all that good or that we were really much worse, but whatever the case, the bottom line is that you just can’t assume a Red Sox win, especially this year.
All those caveats out of the way, I’m still looking forward to the weekend match up with the Astros, one of the two teams in the American League with a worse winning record (.419) than the Red Sox (.446). The other AL team with a worse winning record than Boston (and, in fact, the worst win percentage in all of baseball) is the Rangers (.413).
The Red Sox haven’t faced the Astros all that much owing to the fact that the Houston franchise only moved to the AL in 2013. The club was established in the National League in 1962 as the Colt .45’s before becoming the Astros in 1965. They’ve had 24 winning seasons over their 53 years, seven of those coming since 2000 with the last in 2008.
But in the limited time Houston and Boston have faced each other, the results have been outstanding for the Red Sox with a decisive 13-3 record (7-0 at Fenway, 6-3 in Minute Maid Park) giving Boston a .813 lifetime win percentage. The only better record for the Red Sox is their 7-1 lifetime record vs the Cincinnati Reds.
The Red Sox have their problems, as we’ve pointed out this season again and again and again. But the Astros are at rock bottom in the American League for hits (746) and doubles (134). They have the AL’s worst team batting average (.239) and they’re tied with the Marlins for the most strikeouts in baseball (818).
Where they excel is in the long ball, with 100 home runs in 2014, 3rd most in the AL behind the Blue Jays and Orioles. They’re also speedy, tied with the Royals for the most stolen bases in the AL (77).
Astros’ team ERA is 4.38, 2nd worst in the AL, 3rd worst in baseball. They’ve committed 58 errors. Their fielding percentage is .984. By comparison Red Sox team ERA is 3.88. Boston has committed 55 errors and has a .984 fielding percentage.
At home the Astros are 20-26. It’s the 3rd worst home record in the American League,. The Red Sox are 18-25 on the road.
The Astros have allowed 73 more runs than they’ve scored this season. With the Rangers one of the two AL teams with a worse run differential than the -53 for the Red Sox.
The Red Sox, of course, are coming off two thrilling, late-inning wins. But they’re also 3-7 for their last 10, 7-13 for their last 20, and 13-17 for their last 30. The Astros are riding a 3-game win streak and are a very similar 3-7 for their last 10, 7-13 for their last 20, and 12-18 for their last 30.
Putting some wins together
This isn’t about beating up on a weak competitor. Though it feels otherwise, the games against the Astros count the same as the rivalry games vs the Yankees or Rays.
While the Orioles and Rays are hot right now (8-2 and 7-3, respectively, for their last 10), the Blue Jays are 3-7 for their last 10 and the Yankees are 8-12 for their last 20. Plus, both teams have been dealt significant injuries over the past week.
It’s been said all season, of course, but there’s no time like now to conbine two recent wins with a string of three more. Let’s head into the All-Star Break with the wind at our back.