The young Astros landed Monday in Arlington in first place, and coming off a gutsy ninth inning victory. They strolled in still confident, bright-eyed explorers; young and naïve to what pennant race baseball really is, the mission not quite clear. And they leave, grounded, wings held on with duct tape, sputtering rockets, and mission command looking for answers. As this series went on, it was evident that the Astros were starting to feel the pressure in their cabin.
Game one featured two errors, one unearned run, and what was an omen of things to come. Prince Fielder was a meteor shower of hits, far and wide, long and loud. The Rangers were for real. And the Astros had to show they were the Top Guns quickly or they would quickly be left scrubbing the deck.
Game two was filled with mistakes that failed to effect the box score, as much as it did the perception of the younger team on the field. Colby Rasmus first inning throw to home, from just outside the infield, was one of the worst you will ever see in a professional game. If you don’t believe me, ask Adrian Beltre who was asked to keep all limbs inside the on deck circle at all times. Later, the lapses continued, as Correa bobbled a relay throw to give up the tying run, as Prince Fielder scored from first on a Beltre double.
And then Rasmus, (calling into question my assertion four lines above), bounced a ball from second base to home as if he was playing in a gravity-less environment, as the winning run crossed home plate . After the game, tweets fluttered of Dallas Keuchel, the game three starter, and his dugout suggestions for Delino and Odor. Was the Cy Young Candidate showing a fire, looking for a spark for his team, knowing it was in his hands the next day. Maybe. I see it as more evidence that the Astronauts were struggling for oxygen, as their ship was coming apart at the seams.
Game three featured the most dominant pitcher in the American League and the Astros chance to right their rocket, and show that the first two games were just bad luck, ice crystals on the ejectors. The tension was apparent and a Napoli swing, an Odor bat flip and crow hop later, and two Prince satellites launched later, the Astros were free-falling from orbit. And there was nothing the young team could do to stop it. They just stared out the window, over the dugout rail, as everything was racing pass.
Game four. Crash Landing. Houston, we have a problem. (Look you knew it was coming, ok? Just live with it.)
The Astros are a good team on the rise. They have the next MLB superstar at shortstop, a young staff under control, and a front office that rivals most in the game. This team will be good for a really long time, but until the onboard computer catches up with the space ship, they aren’t ready to take it to the moon. Their time will come, but it’s still a new moon in Houston.
Meanwhile, the Rangers, may be packing their bags for a special trip.
One small step for the division, one giant leap for the… Well, let’s just plant a flag before we conquer a planet.