HOUSTON Statistical manipulation is a fun, albeit intellectually dishonest, exercise, especially when number fudging enhances a point.
With their 5-1 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park, the Astros completed a 6-2 home stand that ended with their allowing 24 runs. That sum is impressive standing alone, but eliminate the Cubs' irrelevant four-run ninth inning on Monday and the Rangers' five-run first against rhythmically disoriented Jordan Lyles on Sunday and that total is shaved to 15 runs over 70 innings. Astros ERA: 1.93.
Consider the significance of that stat when measured against a rotation featuring J.A. Happ, a veteran left-hander demoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2011, and Lucas Harrell, a waiver-wire pickup last July 8.
There is Bud Norris, who entered this season with a career record three games under .500, and Wandy Rodriguez, whose ascent to staff ace at 33 years of age was by default. By definition that is a motley crew, not quite as unren...