Astros-Orioles: Keeping the Streak Alive

Way back at the start of the month, when I predicted the Astros would go 10-16 for June, I did so because I had been following the Tampa Bay Rays, and I’d seen how tough the AL East teams were. And knowing the Astros would be playing against the AL East for most of the month, I just kind of had a hint of how the month would go.

But damn, I never expected this.

The Houston Astros lost again last night, this time a 2-1 tenth-inning heartbreaker that saw the Astros have the lead at one point, even though the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie had shut down the offense like no pitcher has shut down this team this year.

Going into the seventh inning last night, the Astros had one hit, but because of Brian Moehler pitching like a young Greg Maddux, the score was tied at zero. When Lance Berkman came up to bat in the seventh, Guthrie had retired 15 straight Houston hitters. Then Berkman unloaded a 430-foot home run to deep, deep right field – out by Boog Powell’s Barbeque joint – and suddenly the Astros were leading the game 1-0.

Then just as suddenly, the game was tied, as Luke Scott struck against his former team in the bottom of the seventh, homering to centerfield to tie the game at one run a piece. The Astros and Orioles shut each other down for the next two innings, and the Astros could not got get to Baltimore in the tenth. But with Jose Valverde pitching and one out in the bottom of the tenth, Melvin Mora singled up the middle. Then former Astro Aubrey Huff singled to left field with Mora moving to third. Then Kevin Millar put the Astros out of their misery, singling up the middle to score Mora to make the final score 2-1 Baltimore.

The loss was the seventh straight for the Astros, and their 12th in 15 June games. The team has also lost 16 of the last 20 games going back to May. And for the Astros to make my 10-16 prediction for the month, they’re going to have to find a way to win seven of their next 11 games. The team’s record is now 33-39, but they’re still in fifth place because the Cincinnati Reds refuse to give up last place.

Shawn Chacon (2-2, 4.69) tries to break the losing streak tonight as he goes up against Baltimore’s Brian Burres (5-5, 5.28).

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

The Astros had five hits last night. Lance Berkman had two of them (and a walk). Since May 3, Berkman is hitting .408 with 11 homers and 32 RBI. His home run last night was only the 44th home run in the history of Camden Yards to be hit to that part of the stadium – it’s the equivalent of hitting a homer into San Francisco’s McCovey Cove.

And once again, the ex-Astros outperformed the ex-Oriole. Luke Scott was one-for-four with the homer, and Aubrey Huff was one-for-four with the key tenth inning single. Miguel Tejada, once again, was hitless. He has yet to get a hit against his former team.

***************** For anyone wondering about the air conditioning situation at MMP, well, the Astros don’t know what you’re talking about.

Richard Justice spoke with Pam Gardner, President of Business Operations for the Astros, yesterday, and she was very clear that there is nothing wrong at MMP. I didn’t hear the interview, and Justice doesn’t quote from it in his blog post, but the summary is that there’s nothing different this year than year’s past. It’s all in the imagination, and the Astros aren’t trying to save a few of Uncle Drayton’s bucks by making the place hotter.

The one thing I did learn from Justice in his blog is that, apparently, the players are bitching about the conditions, too.

You know, if they’re not going to air condition the place, why don’t they just keep the roof open? Yes, the place will be hot, but can it be much worse, and at least this way, maybe the people up top won’t suffocate and pass out. And who knows, maybe that thing known as a breeze will find a way to work through the stadium.

Yes, I know how miserable Houston is on summer nights. But it’s pretty damn miserable in there now. Plus, if the people in Arlington, Atlanta, and Miami can hack the heat and humidity, then we can, too.

***************** I hope you like the Astros as they are, because according to the Chron’s Steve Campbell, who spoke to General Manager Ed Wade, the team is how they want it. The Astros are following through with the plan he put into action this off-season to build around the likes of Berkman, Tejada, and Lee while trying to restock the farm system at the same time.

“I'm not interested in rebuilding,” Wade says. “I'm not an advocate of that school of thought in any way, shape or form at this point.”

So there you go, Astros fan. I hope you like this team, because it probably ain’t changing.

But as for me, this team this year is, to rip off Dennis Green, who I thought they were.

-- John Royal


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