The Astros offense entered Toronto in a daze, having scored just six runs in four games on the first two legs of the trip, at Atlanta and St. Louis. Houston's 5-2 win over the Blue Jays on Friday marked what could be the beginning of a turnaround, but first-year hitting coach Mike Barnett said that it's time to "grind."
For Barnett, whose team exceeded expectations in April, this is when the work really has to come. Barnett has stayed upbeat through the worst stretch of season for his group.
"Every major league season, you're going to go through periods like this, so we're going to have to grind and work," Barnett said. "You're going to have your ups and downs, and right now, we're going through one of those down periods. The consistency of at-bats has been pretty good."
The finished product has not been nearly as good of late, as the Astros have dropped from 4.3 runs per game in April to 3.4 in May. The components have suffered a similar drop. The team batting average is down 29 points, the on-base percentage down 22 points, and the slugging percentage is down 28 points between April and May.
"We've hit a lot of balls hard probably the last five or six days for outs in big situations," Barnett said. "I haven't been displeased with the at-bats, plus we've faced some pretty good pitching."
There have been a fair number of hard-hit outs on the trip, though the Astros' batting average on balls in play for the season is the third highest in the league at .313, compared to a .294 league average, so it's not all just a case of bad luck.
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