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Astros-Orioles: That’s Eight in a Row

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first inning last night against the Baltimore Orioles when Lance Berkman singled in Michael Bourn. Then Hunter Pence made the game 2-0 when he homered in the second.

But this is the Astros we’re talking about, so it was obvious the lead would not last.

The Orioles first run scored on a bases loaded walk to Kevin Millar in the third. Then Ramon Hernandez and Alex Cintron homered to put Baltimore up 3-2 in the fourth. In the fifth, Baltimore scored three more times, and in the seventh, after Miguel Tejada had homered to make the score 6-3, former Astro Aubrey Huff homered to make the score 7-3.

But the Astros refused to die, loading the bases with one out in the ninth inning. Kaz Matsui hit a sac fly to score Ty Wigginton, then with two out, former Oriole Miguel Tejada singled, making the score 7-5. Lance Berkman, with the chance to play hero, chose to instead pop out to left field to end the game.

This was the team’s eighth straight loss, their worst streak since losing ten straight last May. And with a 1-8 interleague record, the Astros find themselves still having nine more interleague games left. To make matters worse, this was the Astros second straight series sweep. The team is now 3-13 for the month, and 33-40 for the season.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

The Astros radio broadcasters were bothered last night by the booing of Miguel Tejada after all that he did for the Orioles while he was in Baltimore. Let’s hope they remember that sentiment in August when the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran come into town, and, instead of laughing as the Astros fans boo Beltran, they note that the Astros fans should actually be thankful for all that Beltran did for the Astros.

****************** If anybody out there is wondering about Baltimore first baseman Kevin Millar’s really bad haircut, well, use him as an example for the kids.

It’s being reported that Millar made a bet with one of his former Red Sox teammates on how the NBA Finals would come out, and Millar took the Lakers. The result of the loss is that he must come up to bat to the strains of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby” – actually, I guess that should be Queen’s “Under Pressure.” He also now has spiked, platinum blond hair.

Remember kids, let that be an example. Be careful with you how you place your bets.

****************** While the Astros can’t quite catch the Cincinnati Reds in the race for last place, it needs to be noted that the Reds can’t quite catch the Astros in the race for most homers surrendered. The Reds stand at 99 given up for the year, while the Astros, after last night, are at 106.

And for anyone who’s worried, the Astros are still on pace to break the Colorado Rockies record for NL homers surrendered in a season, though they’re slightly off the pace to break the MLB record set by the 1996 Detroit Tigers.

***************** I haven’t heard this, but Richard Justice is blogging that there are two sports talk show hosts out there who are calling for a boycott of all Astros home games. In some ways, I agree with Justice. Boycotts are stupid, and generally, they don’t work – I think the Pittsburgh Pirates fans have some kind of boycott every year, yet the Pirates still suck – though not quite as bad as the Astros suck.

Yet, while I don’t like a boycott, per se, I am of the opinion that Drayton doesn’t really care about the team winning, but instead cares only about attendance, because the higher the attendance, the more money he’s making off of tickets sold, merchandise sold, food sold, and because of the higher temps, lukewarm beverages sold.

So if you want to get Drayton’s attention, stop buying tickets, stop buying merchandise, stop buying concessions. When the park’s half empty every night and his profits start to drop, then Drayton might actually start caring about fielding a winning team.

(And can I get more wishy-washy than what I just wrote?)

***************** The Astros are finishing up this road trip with three games in Tampa Bay against the surging Rays. The Rays are a solid second place in the AL East, behind only the big budget bully Boston Red Sox. And there are only two teams in baseball with better home records than the Rays’ 29-11: the Red Sox at 28-7, and the Chicago Cubs at 29-8. The Rays have also won nine straight series at home, including a just concluded sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

And unlike the aging Astros, the Rays are a young team who hit for power but are very good and fast on the bases and are very good defensively. The offense is led by Houstonian Carl Crawford, and the ace of the pitching staff is Houstonian Scott Kazmir. The pitching coach is ex-Astros pitching coach Jim Hickey, and one of the team masterminds is former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker.

The Rays pitching staff has the eighth best ERA in MLB, while the Astros have MLB’s 23rd best ERA. This weekend’s pitching matchups are as follow. Wandy Rodriguez (2-3, 2.76) goes up against Matt Garza (5-3, 4.06). Roy Oswalt (5-7, 5.04) gets the Saturday start against Edwin Jackson (4-6, 4.46), and Brandon Backe (4-8, 4.99) faces Kazmir (6-2, 1.76) on Sunday afternoon.

And before I go, word to your mother.

-- John Royal


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