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Astros Might Not Be the Rangers’ Whipping Boys Forever

Jim Crane might want to double-check the lease on Minute Maid Park and make sure his team’s name is on it and not the Rangers.

Yeah yeah, I know, old joke. But it’s still amazing just how badly our guys in North Texas have dominated this year in the city Randy Galloway loves to call Mosquitoville.

The Rangers opened the 2013 season at the park formerly known as Enron and got drilled 8-2. They did not lose in Houston for the rest of the year, finishing 9-1 on the road against the Astros.

The streak was completed by the same person who started it. In two starts this year in Houston, Yu Darvish allowed two hits in 17 innings – none prior to the eighth in either game.

Of course, they haven’t been the only ones to kick the Astros around. While the Rangers made the incredible comeback from six games back to one game up in nine days, Houston has now dropped back to 31 games out of first. A full month behind the leader in the division.

I get the feeling more than a few fans in H-Town wish they’d never left the league where pitchers are still forced to bat. Well, here are a couple of things to try and ease the pain.

First, it’s doubtful that the Astros would be any better if they were still in the National League Central, given that the Cardinals and surprising Pirates are battling for baseball’s best record in that division.

And second, it’s likely they won’t be the Disastros for much longer.

To say Houston has a young inexperienced team is an understatement. Eric Bedard is the only Astros player to currently make more than $505,000 (the league minimum is $490,000)

But while the Astros may be bringing up the rear in the American League, their farm system has the best record in all of baseball. Amazingly, just a few years ago, the franchise had cellar dwellers at the major, AAA and AA levels; now, both Oklahoma City and Corpus Christi are looking to the postseason.

And it’s not like there isn’t some promise with the group currently on the big league roster, especially with the battery the Rangers faced in their last game.

Finding a good catcher can be a headache, as we have seen in these post-Pudge days, but the Astros may have something in Carlos Corporan. In the ninth inning on Monday, when Corproan made a snap throw to first to nearly pick off Craig Gentry, Tom Greive couldn’t help but compare him to The Magnificent 7 with how he screened himself behind the left-handed batter to try and fool the runner. A few pitches later, Corporan fired a very Pudge-like bullet to second base to gun down Gentry.

It was also Corporan who ruined Darvish’s second attempt to no-hit the Astros this year with his home run in the eighth inning. With seven homers (tied for fifth on the team; Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez are tied for second with 14 each) and 31 total runs (15 R/16 RBI) in just 46 games, he has the promise of being a run producer behind the plate.

And it looks like Brett Oberholtzer has finally figured things out. Called back up from Oklahoma City after the Bud Norris trade and thrown into the rotation, Brett has actually been more than pretty good; the two the Rangers scored off him in the first inning Monday are so far the only runs he’s allowed in three starts. Texas handed him his first loss, making it his first start that he didn’t get out of the seventh inning.

While a third straight 100-loss season looks inevitable, at least the Astros are doing it right in trying to build. With the franchise having poached Nolan Ryan’s son Reid to be team president, running a group led by general manager Jeff Luhnow and and some good throwbacks to the Astros’ previous success (including Craig Biggio as a special assistant and Quinton McCracken as director of player development), the Astros are clearly focused on this amazing new tactic of building from within that is actually now seeing success in the game.

Compare that to the mess in Anaheim, CA, where the Los Angeles Angels of Orange County Or Whatever are loaded down with too many ginormous contracts given to players who simply are not living up to them. Already people are speculating that the Angels won’t be able to pay up to their lone bright spot, Mike Trout, when his time in arbitration comes, thanks to the millions they’re paying Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to not do much. The cellar looks a lot closer in the future for the the Halos than the postseason does.

In the meantime, the Rangers have six games left in Arlington this year to beat up on the Astros, and they might have another year of using them as a chew toy. But we’d better enjoy it while it lasts, because eventually this Lone Star battle might become a war.

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One Response

  1. Altuve is becoming one of my favorite baseball players to watch.

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