Astros-Giants: Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, People

Wow, I switched over to NBC to watch the Olympics when the Giants were beating the Astros 3-2 and Tim Lincecum was dominating the Houston batters. I turned back an hour or so later, and the Astros have just won the game 12-4. So what the hell happened? Well, the Astros literally knocked Lincecum out of the game with Brad Ausmus lining a shot off of Lincecum’s knee in the fifth inning which in turn sent Lincecum to the locker room.

So to the answer the question of how do the Astros score 12 runs off of one of the best pitchers in baseball, they don’t. They beat up on the bullpen. And checking out the box score I noticed that Lance Berkman hit a grand slam in the seventh inning. It’s nice to see that Berkman is returning to form – so maybe he’s back to eating Twinkies.

Roy Oswalt, once again, wasn’t at his best, but he lasted seven innings and handed the team another quality start as the Astros moved to above the .500 mark for the first time in over two months. Their record is now 60-59 for the season, and they have won 10 of their last 12 games. Make sure to wear your hard hats tonight as Randy Wolf (7-10, 4.67) pitches against Barry Zito (6-14, 5.55).

SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

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Okay, okay, I read the Chron, I read the blog posts. I read the comments. I know that there are some people out there claiming the Astros are in the hunt for a playoff spot.

They’re not.

The Astros are currently battling the New York Mets, the Florida Marlins, the Milwaukee Brewers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers for the wild card spot. The Astros, at 60-59, have 43 games remaining. To get to 90 wins, which is probably the number of wins needed to make the playoffs, the Astros must go 30-13. The Marlins are 63-57 with 42 games remaining. To reach 90, they need only go 27-15. The Mets, at 63-56, need only go 27-16. The Dodgers have the same record as the Astros, so they, too, need to go 30-13 to reach 90. Then there are the Cardinals who are 66-56 with 40 games remaining. They just have to go 24-16. And then there are the Brewers who are 69-51 with 42 games left. To reach 90 wins, they just have to 21-21.

Then there are the schedules. The Astros supposedly have a soft schedule for the remainder of the season. Of their 43 games left, only 21 are against teams not in the playoff race – so while they might be able to gain some ground, playing the Cubs is different than facing the Reds. The Cardinals have 17 games against non-playoff contending teams. The Brewers have 21 games left against non-playoff contenders – that’s half of their remaining games. The Mets also have 21 games against non-playoff contenders while the Marlins have perhaps the toughest schedule with only 16 remaining games against non-playoff contenders. The Dodgers have it easiest of all. Playing in the NL West, the worst division in the NL, they face the Giants six times, the Padres nine times, the Rockies six times along with four games against the Nationals and three games against the Pirates.

The Brewers, who lead in the wild card chase, are going to have to have an epic collapse to not get the wild card, and even if the Brewers collapse, the Astros have to hope for the Cardinals to fall apart, and the Mets, and the Marlins, and the Dodgers.

I know you want to believe, but the Astros have about as big of chance of making the playoffs as there is of Drayton McLane lowering the concession prices. Yeah, it ain’t going to happen. You saw how the Astros were when they were facing Tim Lincecum tonight – really good pitchers just completely shut them down. And in the next week, the Astros will be facing Brandon Webb, Randy Johnson (who will be going for career victory 295 on Sunday against the Astros), CC Sabathia, and Ben Sheets – all of whom are among the best pitchers in the majors.

***************** Kaz Matsui, the Ahman Green of the Houston Astros, was removed from the game prior to the start of the third inning because of lower back pain. Matsui is now day-to-day. I wonder if the Chron is going to provide breathless reports from Matsui’s bed side.

***************** On a non-Astros note, did anyone notice the Boston Red Sox-Texas Rangers game last night? The Red Sox had a 10-0 lead after the first inning. They needed a four-run eighth inning, including a Kevin Youkilis three-run homer, to win the game, with the final score being 19-17 Boston. – John Royal

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