Astros-Pirates: Blame It on the Rain, or the Hurricane, or Something

I'm going to blame this on Hurricane Dolly. Otherwise I've got no excuse other than my own stupidity for spending a couple of hours on my Astros post last night, only to realize this morning that I forgot to both send it to my editor and to save it on my computer. Well, I can blame it on Dolly, or I can just blame it on the Astros for making me brain dead.

But I blame too much on the Astros already.

And I just wanted everybody to know why this is late today, and not full with my standard witty and intelligent analysis.

That said…

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When the Astros scored three runs in the first inning yesterday to make the score 4-3, who among you out there thought the Astros actually had a chance at winning the game? Anyone? Anyone? Okay, how about I reverse that? Who amongst you thought the Astros would find a way to lose the damn thing? Yeah, that's what I thought. Which makes sense seeing as how the team had lost three straight. It makes even more sense seeing as how the Astros ended up losing 8-7 to once again reclaim last place. The Astros’ record is now 46-55.

There is some good news. The Astros will not lose today as they have the day off. But starting tomorrow they play a weekend series in Milwaukee against the surging Brewers. Wandy Rodriguez (5-3, 3.31) goes up against Manny Parra (9-2, 3.68) tomorrow night. Brandon Backe (6-10, 4.79) matches up against Dave Bush (5-8, 4.39) on Saturday night, and the series closes out Sunday afternoon with Randy Wolf (6-10, 4.74) making his Astros debut against Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.65).

But hey, here's some more good news. At least the Astros don't have to face either Ben Sheets or CC Sabathia (who got his third straight complete game victory last night) this weekend.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

What a three-game series that was for the Astros starting pitching staff. I want to thank (and pity) Zachary Levine over at the Chron for compiling these numbers. Runelvys Hernandez, Jack Cassel and Brian Moehler -- the three starters -- pitched a total of 12.1 innings while giving up 26 hits and 13 runs (12 earned) for an ERA of 8.76. That also equals out to 19 hits per nine innings. But, in all fairness to Hernandez, it should be noted that he was in line for the 3-2 victory on Monday night before Jose Valverde imploded and surrendered six runs.

The Astros have lost the last four games by scores of 9-0, 9-3, 8-2 and 8-7. That's some real inspired pitching. But if those scores aren't a clue of how bad the pitching has been, this should be: Doug Mientkiewicz, who's not exactly known for his prowess with the bat, was four-for-four yesterday with a double and two RBI.

Jack Cassel won't be giving up any runs for Houston for awhile, as he was sent back to Round Rock to make room for Randy Wolf on the roster.

***************** Mark Loretta got the start at shortstop yesterday, and he went three-for-five with two RBI. When's the last time the Astros have seen that kind of production from a shortstop? Seriously, the Astros need to think about benching Miguel Tejada. He's been in a slump since May, and the only reason his numbers look half decent in July is that Lance Berkman has forgotten how to hit. It was a mistake to acquire Tejada in the first place. And it makes no sense to keep playing him -- sure, the team's got to pay him a lot of money, but his performance on the field is killing this team. Loretta's more than adequate. Give the guy some playing time.

***************** I heard Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies talking on Tuesday about how minor league coach Gary Redus has been up with the big league club lately, and that he's been here trying to teach the guys how to run the bases. And I've got to ask: why are the Astros waiting until these guys reach the majors to teach them proper base running techniques? Then again, the last Astro player that truly knew how to run the bases was Jeff Bagwell, and he hasn't played since 2005. This is something that way is overdue. I just want to know why they're waiting until the middle of the season to work on this. – John Royal

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