Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 6/20/12
HOUSTON In many ways the Astros' first two games against the Royals resembled their last two against the Giants last week, with both sets of back-to-back affairs serving as a microcosm of their season as a whole. One night after bashing their way to victory the Astros were handcuffed by maligned Kansas City right-hander Luke Hochevar, who carried a shutout into the eighth inning of the Royals' 2-0 victory Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park. Less than a week ago the Astros were on the wrong end of a Matt Cain perfect game only to recover the following afternoon with four timely walks and a J.D. Martinez grand slam in a 6-3 triumph. These roller-coaster performances have become commonplace as the Astros sort through attrition and inexperience. No one expected a club in the throes of rebuilding to produce like the 1927 Yankees, but the inconsistencies of their offensive outputs aren't necessarily accepted. "This is going to sound like an excuse and I don't want it to sound like an excuse, but some of it has to come from inexperience," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "I'm not blaming these guys, but we do have to be able to make those adjustments quicker. "I thought (veteran first baseman) Carlos (Lee) did a good job tonight of making some adjustments. He had those two (base hits) and later on, from that fifth inning on, he started making those adjustments. Well, with that experience and being around has helped him, and we want to be able to carry that over to some of the younger guys and the younger guys be able to make those adjustments. And we can. The ability is there to do that." Lee was one of two members of the batting order (shortstop Jed Lowrie, formerly of the American League and the Red Sox, was the other) with previous experience facing Hochevar, finishing 1-for-3 in the Royals' 4-3 extra-inning victory over the Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 24, 2009. Hochevar (4-7) allowed two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out four over seven innings three seasons ago, and in his second appearance against the Astros (28-40) he was as formidable. The issue was this: Hochevar lugged a 6.27 ERA and .300 opponents' batting average into his 14th start of the season. Hochevar worked into the fifth inning before surrendering a base hit (with one out to Chris Johnson) and extended his bid for a second career shutout into the eighth before Lee followed a Lowrie walk with a single to left field. He was particularly effective utilizing two breaking pitches, a slider and curveball, to disarm the Astros. With Lowrie, who was 2-for-5 in his career against Hochevar, and Lee occupying third and second with one out in the sixth, Hochevar fanned Justin Maxwell on a slider and retired Brian Bogusevic on three consecutive curveballs to snuff out the threat. The Astros were forewarned of the potency of those breaking balls through their scouting report. But experience often is the superior guide, and the Astros are woefully short of it throughout their lineup. "It's tough," said Lee, who finished 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. "Because even when you've got the scouting report you haven't faced a guy. You don't know what kind of movement he's got, how hard he throws. It's a lot of things that come into play when you haven't faced a guy." To an extent the Astros' early struggles against Hochevar were understandable. It was their second and third at-bats against him that left Mills somewhat rankled over the overall approach to countering those breaking pitches. If the Astros strove to make adjustments at the plate they failed at that task, and despite the brilliance with which Cain pitched last Wednesday, the same could be said of that Astros effort. With a lineup comprised of 20-somethings short on experience, failings happen. Moving forward, the Astros need to adjust on the fly. "There's no doubt that's going to be a discussion, and we're going to have to look into that," Mills said. "We were talking about that in my office before I came in here (to the postgame presser), we were talking about it in the dugout before the game, and during the game as well." Said Maxwell, who struck out three times: "Just like anything in life the more experience you have the more you're going to grow and the better you'll be from it. You're able to make those adjustments as you go." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Most strikeouts by a hitter in a single season
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LISTEN: Kevin Harlan saves MNF again by doing play-by-play of two idiots on the field

Jets security guards make best tackles of the night on fan rushing field

NFL changes stance, Titans and Browns can participate in ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign

Report: MLB smashed old revenue record in 2016

Percy Harvin out for season due to migraines

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ducks goalie had embarrassing reason for not playing in relief

Bruce Arians emphatically shoots down retirement rumor

Siemian out of walking boot; Broncos hoping he can play

Report: Harper seeking $400 million, likely to leave Nationals

Report: Aldon Smith setting up meeting to seek reinstatement

Rams players vent frustrations as losses pile up

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

MLB Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL sweaters)

Best of Yardbarker: CFB Championship Week chaos

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

The Pirates prepare for rarely chartered waters in dealing Andrew McCutchen

Joakim Noah’s contract is becoming worst deal in NBA

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Championship Week as explained by Diana Ross

Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson

Winter Meetings primer: Every team's trade temperature on the hot stove

James Franklin, Penn State come up roses

Final College Football Playoff rankings: Alabama reigns

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

New faces help Spurs continue unparalleled success

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker