Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 5/21/12
If not for a first inning in which Jordan Lyles could not seem to keep his pitches down in the strike zone or anywhere close to the location he was trying to throw them the Astros would have had a chance against the Rangers on Sunday. From the second inning on Lyles was a pitcher who can win in the major leagues. But Lyles was not on his game in that opening frame and the Rangers scored five runs enabling them to put the game away early. After the game Lyles, who would shortly be informed he was heading back to AAA Oklahoma City, offered no excuses. He simply said he could not get a good feel for anything and struggled. The worst hit he surrendered was this last one in the inning when pitcher Colby Lewis smacked a pitch high and over the middle of the plate for a two run single. Remember that was from an American League pitcher who rarely bats. The two runs made it 5-0 and that was the ballgame. As it turned out Lewis was on his game as a pitcher as well as a hitter. He allowed only a solo home run to Jed Lowrie leading off the 9th. At that point his day was done, but he had already done in the Astros. Even with a 6-1 final score the first inning was the story. A lot of things could have been different had Lyles escaped allowing only two or three runs in that frame. It just was not to be. As for Lyles he is being sent down since the spot in the rotation he holds won't be needed again until next Monday when the Astros play a double-header in Colorado. Under baseball rules he could be recalled to pitch in that game even though it is fewer than ten days off. Normally, unless there is an injury a player cannot be recalled to the majors after a demotion until at least ten days have passed. That does not apply when double-headers appear on the schedule. In fact, an extra 26th player may be added to a roster for a twin bill. The Astros need either an extra bullpen arm or able bodied player in the mean time. Outfielder Jordan Schafer is banged up and not likely to play at least until Wednesday and the bullpen could always use another arm for a few days. It is not inconceivable that GM Jeff Luhnow could bring up an outfielder for Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday then switch to a pitcher for the three game series in Los Angeles with Lyles or another starter coming in for next Monday. While all these moves make for interesting speculation they don't answer the questions that keep the Astros from being a contender. How can more offense be generated and how can pitchers limit their mistakes. Every single player of the Astros is a major league player. They have all proven they can either get major league players out or can hit major league pitching. The difference between being a winning team and one that loses more often is so very slight. The teams that win get the outs when they need them or drive in the runs that count the most. The others are less successful in both areas. Had Jordan Lyles been able to start his game on Sunday in the second inning instead of the first the whole outcome could have been different. The margin between winning and losing in the major leagues is that small.
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