The Houston Astros will continue on as a theme on this blog, at least during the 2016 season. My last post dealt with the Texas Rangers’ utter domination of Houston so far in the year; this is just an extension of that.
This week the two clubs met four times. The Rangers won three of them. In ten matchups between the intrastate rivals in 2016, the Astros have won a single game and have been outscored 45-28. You can get the per-game averages just by moving the decimal one unit to the left.
There is typical luck, or just baseball vagaries, in play whenever one team goes 9-1 against another. Especially with two teams as talented as the Rangers and Astros are. Texas doesn’t “own” Houston, or “have their number,” or whatever. There are real baseball reasons why the Rangers have been better than the Astros in head-to-head games. But when people dive headfirst into the waters of intangibles, and believing mental superiority/inferiority among the two clubs, it’s easy to get sidetracked from the truth of the matter. Which is simple and much less imaginative.
45-28 (+17) is a decent spread over ten matchups, but it hardly screams the respective 9-1 (.900) and 1-9 (.100) records. Despite the lopsided results, the season series has been extremely competitive to this point.
Aside a 9-2 drubbing to cap off the Rangers’ second sweep of Houston last month, each game has been decided by three runs or fewer. Take out the only 3-run game (a 7-4 Texas win), and that’s eight out of ten (80%) games that needed only a bloop and a blast to tie in the 9th. Five out of the ten were decided by one lonely run. The Rangers won all of them.
That is relevant to the argument that Houston isn’t nearly as bad as they’ve played, and that Texas isn’t nearly as good as they’ve played. So when I say “luck,” I don’t mean that one-handed half court shot I hit that one time; I mean you don’t expect to win five consecutive weighted coin-flips. Actual math luck. Or in the Astros case, bad actual math luck.
The hard part now — for Houston — is 10 of the 19 total games between the two teams have already been played. The ink is dry. Texas only needs to go 1-8 in the final 9 contests to clinch The Silver Boot, and every win after that just widens the gap. The Rangers could lose 2 out of 3 in each remaining series, and still come out with an impressive 12-7 mark vs. Houston. Which any rational Texas fan would have done cartwheels over before the season started.