First the good news. The Astros starters have an ERA of 2.49 and despite the offensive struggles the team has been in every game when they handed the ball to the bullpen.
The bad news is what has happened once the bullpen took over. Astros relievers have an ERA of 7.54 so far this year. When you take away the 3 1/3 innings that starter Erik Bedard threw in relief of Bud Norris in the season opener, the ERA balloons up to 9.82.
Friday, it was Xavier Cedeno and Rhiner Cruz that came in after Brad Peacock in the fifth inning. The pair combined for four walks and a hit batter. When you add in an error, two hits and a safety squeeze that failed to net an out you have a recipe for disaster. What was a 1-0 deficit when Peacock left the game turned into a 7-0 blowout by the time the Astros got off the field.
“At the end of the day, I went to the mound and I told Cruz, I said ‘Look. There’s no defense for walks, man,’” Bo Porter said after the game. “We have to make them swing the bat. You look at that fifth inning, when you walk people you make errors you put people on base. The more people you put on base the more opportunity the other team has to score.”
That has been a problem for the Astros. Friday Peacock was responsible for one run in the fifth inning while Cedeno and Cruz were on the hook for six. Wednesday the Rangers extended the lead by three runs two innings after Humber left and on Tuesday the Rangers pushed two runs across in each of the three innings Lucas Harrell didn’t pitch.
"It’s the age-old history of major league baseball, you want to make the other team beat you by putting the ball in play," Porter said. "To do that you have to attack the strike zone and make them swing the bat.”