carlos-correa-astros.jpg
USATSI

The Houston Astros lost to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday in a contest that was obscured (figuratively and otherwise) by the snow that fell throughout the game. As it turns out, the only thing at Coors Field that was colder than the air was the Astros' bats. As Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle noted on Twitter, Houston's lineup has mustered eight runs and just six extra-base hits over their last four games.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that the Astros have been scuffling. Wednesday's loss was their third in a row, and their ninth in their past 10 games. The Astros, now 7-10, will return to Houston in last place in the American League West.

The Astros' struggles aren't all their fault, of course. Manager Dusty Baker had been without a number of key contributors because of COVID-19 health and safety protocol absences: third baseman Alex Bregman, designated hitter Yordan Álvarez, and catcher Martín Maldonado all returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing a handful of games. Second baseman José Altuve, meanwhile, remains sidelined.

Through that all, the Astros did not have a game postponed or rescheduled -- a decision that starter and union rep Lance McCullers Jr. questioned at the time. "I don't really understand why we played tonight, quite honestly," McCullers said of Houston's game against the Detroit Tigers on April 14. "Seems like the rules are different for different teams depending on who it is based on the COVID issues. A lot of questions and things we have to get figured out as a team and hopefully we do."

It's been a rough stretch, in other words, and it's not about to get easier. The Astros will begin an eight-game homestand on Friday that includes four-game sets versus the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners, the third- and second-place teams in the division. After that, the Astros will play nine consecutive games against the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays.

In a sense, Houston's upcoming schedule is an opportunity to right the ship and make up ground within the division. If they continue to falter, though, they could be in an undesirable predicament heading into the middle of May.