Astros focus on cutting down on strikeouts

Astros focus on cutting down on strikeouts

ARLINGTON -- Astros hitting coach Mike Barnett doesn't have to be reminded about how much his team has struck out in June.

The Astros were averaging 11.2 strikeouts per game in June entering Saturday's game against the Rangers and this season were second in the National League with 522 strikeouts (Milwaukee had 524). Barnett says the club has faced tough pitching, but his young lineup must improve.

"We talk about it almost every day," he said. "The thing is we've faced some strikeout pitchers and it's been tough. Without going into calls made against you and stuff like that, it's a fine [line] and we're going to try to get guys to get good pitches to hit. A lot of the strikeouts have been looking strikes, and I think guys are trying to do a conscientious job of getting good pitches to hit and not chasing, and sometimes it hasn't gone our way."

In three of the previous four games before Saturday, the Astros had faced Madison Bumgarner (12 strikeouts), Matt Cain (14 strikeouts in a perfect game) and Yu Darvish (11 strikeouts on Friday). Bumgarner, Cain, Darvish and the Mets' R.A. Dickey were tied for the league lead for the most double-digit strikeout games.

"We've faced a lot of those guys lately," Barnett said. "We can't make excuses for that either. We've just got to get better at it."