The Astros haven't scored in their last 21 innings,
though they had their fair share of chances in this three-game series
against the Cubs. They left 36 runners on base and scored in only two
of their last 36 innings.
"I don't know if I could put a barometer on how much frustration [we
are experiencing] or if this is the most frustrated we've been, but it's up there,"
Hard times have certainly fallen upon the Astros, who took this one-run
loss only hours after losing a heartbreaker in a Minute Maid
Park-record 18 innings to the Cubs.
"It's frustrating just because it's another loss for us," said
left-hander Andy Pettitte, who was saddled with a complete-game loss in this one.
"We're on a little stretch here. I think we felt really good about
ourselves a week ago, and now we feel terrible about ourselves again."
The Astros felt great about Pettitte's performance, at least. He
escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, and retired 15 of 16 batters
before surrendering the game's only run on Michael Barrett's solo homer
into the Crawford Boxes in the sixth.
Pettitte actually had Barrett down in the count, 0-2, but he left an
outside fastball a little too far over the plate. And it cost him.
"You've gotta be extremely careful in this ballpark [with] a guy like
him," Pettitte said.
Still, he only allowed the one run on four hits over nine innings. He
also struck out seven batters and, more importantly, gave the Astros
several shots at snapping their four-game losing streak.
Instead, the streak stretched to five as the Astros couldn't plate
"We've had good, determined at-bats," manager Phil Garner said. "We're
just not getting any results, certainly not in the situations that we
want. We're getting them on base and we're not getting them over."
The Astros put runners on, moved them over and brought them home during their
winning stretch against the Padres, Diamondbacks and Pirates just a
couple of weeks ago.
Now, they're back to square one and tied for third in the NL Central
with the Brewers, whom they'll face in a four-game series beginning
Thursday night in Milwaukee.
"Twenty-one innings of not putting a run on the board," Garner said, "I
just gotta believe that we're going to break loose out of this."
Ausmus agreed, but he's still flabbergasted at his club's recent performance.
"We're going backward trying to accomplish our goal," he said. "The
performances we've had over these last few days is frustrating. I know
the fans are frustrated, I know [Garner's] frustrated, I know our front
office is frustrated.
"It's no less frustrating for any single one of these players in here."
The Astros still have time to turn this season around. With 120 games in the books, they're somehow still lodged in the
10-team Wild Card race.
Sure, they'll have to leapfrog a half-dozen clubs in the standings, but
they've got plenty of games remaining against divisional opponents.
And that leaves a little hope.
"I plan on making a run, and everybody else does," Pettitte said. "I
feel like we're the best team in the Wild Card race. We just aren't
playing like it."