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August 16, 2012 5:00 am

Painting the Black: In Houston, an Unexpected Somebody


R.J. Anderson

The Astros haven't surprised anybody. But one Astro has.

There’s a parlance in basketball analysis about the leading scorers on bad teams. It goes like this, “Someone has to score.” Efficiency hardly matters on poor teams; so a chucker, a player who shoots without prejudice, can boast gaudy points per game averages. The same thought process can apply to bad baseball teams. Someone has to drive in the runs, someone has to pitch the ninth inning, someone has to win games. Even Mike Maroth, owner of a 75 ERA+, won nine games for the 2003 Tigers (while also losing 21 times).

The Astros are the worst team in the majors. The someone wining games is Lucas Harrell. On Tuesday night, Harrell pitched eight innings against the Cubs and allowed one run. Houston has 39 wins on the season, and 10 have come with Harrell on the mound. Winning 10 games in a season is no longer impressive; however, winning 10 games and accounting for more than a quarter of your team’s total victories remains notable. When Astros fans sit down to watch a game, they know their team is going to lose, and lose easily on most nights. But their team has a chance when Harrell is on the mound. Those are the happy days.

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