Game 7: Astros, Cosart can’t overcome mistakes

The result: The Astros dropped the finale of a four-game series against the Angels, losing 9-1 on Monday afternoon at beautifully sunny Minute Maid Park. Jarred Cosart walked four batters and gave up a career-high five runs, including three in the first inning, and the Astros simply were shut down by C.J. Wilson (story and boxscore).

The analysis: This one was ugly. We’ll begin with Cosart, who got himself in trouble early with walks. If you remember, Cosart walked 38 batters in 60 innings last year and came into 2014 looking to cut down on free passes. He didn’t walk any batters in his first outing Wednesday but walked the first batter he faced Monday and three more.

Cosart righted the ship after the three-run first and managed to work six innings and allow five earned runs and three hits.

“It’s not just the walks,” manager Bo Porter said. “When you start to look at the number of pitches per at-bat and the ability to command the strike zone, I feel like we also aided in that with some poor decisions with the baseball that allowed their big innings to kind of open up.”

When Cosart left the game, Porter met him at the dugout steps and had a little talk with the young right-hander.

“I told him I was proud of him,” he said. “After what happened in the first inning and him being a highly talented young pitcher, there’s going to be some growing pains at the Major League level, and I challenged him after that first inning to go out and put up zeroes. I was proud of the job he was able to do to get us through six innings.

“I told him, ‘You want to be a front-of-the-rotation guy in the Major Leagues, you’re not going to have your A stuff all the time. It’s not going to go right all the time. The reason you’re in the front of the rotation is you’re going toc hew up innings, even when you don’t have your good stuff.'”

Now let’s get to the mistakes. The Astros made three mental errors that won’t show up in the boxscore, but sure had an impact on the game.

  • In the first inning, Angels leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun was at first base with one out when Albert Pujols hit a grounder to shortstop Jonathan Villar, who unsuccessfully tried to beat Calhoun to the bag at second instead of trying to throw out Pujols. As a result, Pujols reached first.

“Now, you have two guys on base and it opens up an opportunity for a big inning,” Porter said. “Again, that’s understanding the speed of the ball, the speed of the runners, the men on base, the batter, runner. We had way too man mental mistakes from a standpoint of execution.”

  • In the seventh inning, with Calhoun on second and Mike Trout on first, Pujols hit a fly ball to center fielder Robbie Grossman, who went back and still tried to throw out Calhoun at second, which allowed Trout to take second. He eventually scored.

“He threw the ball to the wrong base,” Porter said. “It doesn’t go into the column of an error. Obviously, you have Mike Trout, who’s arguably one of the fastest guys in the league, and you go back on the baseball and it’s first and second and you have no chance of throwing out the guy third base. Throw the ball to second and he stops. He continued on because the ball went to third base and we had to try to redirect the ball.”

  • In the eighth inning, outfielder L.J. Hoes was on first base when Villar hit a grounder to Angels shortstop Eric, Aybar. He faked a throw to first, and then caught Hoes off second base for an easy out. The Astros were down 8-1 at the time.

“Not smart,” Porter said. “It’s basically fundamental baseball. The scoreboard is the most important object on the baseball field. Your run doesn’t mean anything as it relates to the number of batters we need to get to the plate. Like I explained to L.J., even if he throws the ball to first base you still should have tried to go to third base. The ball is on the field and that’s not when you take a chance or you risk an out when you’re down by seven runs. It’s just not smart.”

Player of the game: C Carlos Corporan kept the Astros from being shutout with an eighth-inning homer off C.J. Wilson.

Stat of the game: The Astros have 41 hits this year, and 10 have been home runs. This is the first time since 2006 the Astros have double-digit homers through seven games.

Quote of the day: “At the end of the day, we go 3-4. That’s not the goal. The goal is to win every series. I feel like we played with a lot of energy. We came out the gate and have played good baseball for the most part, but at the same time this one here hurts because I don’t feel like we played good baseball today,” Astros manager Bo Porter on team’s 9-1 loss to Angels.

Other stuff: Wilson, who started for the Angels, is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 11 career games (five starts) at Minute Maid Park. … Corporan’s homer was only his second of 12 in his career off a lefty. … Some Astros hitters are in slumps: Robbie Grossman (0-for-19), Marc Krauss (0-for-13) and Jose Altuve (0-for-9).

Links:

Astros to activate Zeid as Albers goes on paternity leave

Fowler back with Astros, but not in lineup

Krauss still waiting for his first hit

Dominguez has two hits, and both are homers

Tweets of the day:

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