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Astros' whiffs are leaving a stench

The Sports Xchange

Whether by looking, as was frequent earlier in the month, or by swinging, as has been the case more recently, the Astros are piling up strikeouts and an alarming pace.

And while it's just one out, the same as a flyball to the warning track or a grounder to short, the inability to advance baserunners has hitting coach Mike Barnett concerned.

"The strikeouts do bother me," Barnett said. "When you're piling up 10-12 strikeouts, you're basically taking 3-4 innings off your chance to be productive."

The lack of productive outs was a killer for the Astros in 2-0 and 2-1 losses to the Royals this week -- they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in those games. And the strikeouts have often come at the worst times.

In 18 games this month, the offense has reached double figures in strikeouts 13 times. The Astros are averaging 10.9 strikeouts per game or 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The average strikeout rate in the National League, for the sake of comparison, is 7.7 per nine innings.

It's not totally dooming the Astros offense, which actually has produced more in June than it did in April and May (4.22 runs per game to 4.16). However, the whiffs have been on the increase in recent days, preventing an even better month from the offense.

"I think every club gets in funks like this at some point during the year and the confidence gets rattled a little bit," Barnett said. "We've got to maintain and be positive."

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