Astros-Pirates: Time to Bench Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada?

Let’s go for the good news from last night’s Astros game against the Pirates. The Astros broke their streak by scoring three runs, their first time to do so in eight games. Now for the bad news. Brandon Backe gave up four runs and the Astros lost. Again. 4-3.

Here are a few things I learned during the game that amazed me. The Pirates have yet to lose a game this season when leading in the seventh inning. And coming into his last at bat of the game, my man Hunter Pence led the National League in batting with men-in-scoring-position. Unfortunately, Hunter flied out with two men on and two out in the top of the ninth to lose the game.

The Astros are now on their way home, and it’s a not a moment too soon as the team went 2-7 on this road trip. Unfortunately, the Astros weren’t exactly lighting it up at home as they started the trip having won only four of the last seven home games.

The Astros are now 31-30 for the season, and after having lost eight of their last ten, the team sits in fourth place. However, the Pirates are just a game-and-a-half back of the Astros.

The St. Louis Cardinals are in Houston for a three-game weekend series at MMP. Brian Moehler (2-2, 4.54 ERA) gets the start tonight against Braden Looper (7-4, 5.03 ERA). Shawn Chacon (2-1, 4.41 ERA) goes on Saturday night against Adam Wainwright (5-3, 3.12 ERA). And Wandy Rodriguez (2-1, 2.38 ERA) closes out the series against Kyle Lohse (6-2, 3.87 ERA).

SOME MISCELLANEOUS BASEBALL NOTES:

The Astros are catching a bit of a lucky break in that the Cardinals played a double-header yesterday with the second game going into extra innings. Of note would be that, in the first game, Albert Pujols hit the first pinch hit home run of his career to lead the Cardinals to the victory. And in the second game, the Cardinals were down 8-2 in the sixth inning before tying the game in the ninth inning, then taking the lead in the tenth, only to lose on a two-run walk-off home run by Washington’s Elijah Dukes – his first homer of the season – making the final score 10-9.

***************** The Astros made a roster move yesterday, sending catcher J.R. Towles down to Round Rock and bringing Humberto Quintero up to the big league club. Quintero, however, will be sitting the bench as Brad Ausmus will now be getting most of the starts at catcher.

***************** I’ve been reading the comments over at the Chron and on some of the message boards around town, and I know that many of you are unhappy with Michael Bourn, and many of you think some more lineup changes should be made. I’d agree with some of you if you were talking about those moves being the benching of Carlos Lee or Miguel Tejada, because they’re the ones in massive slumps.

Looking at the stats from the start of the last Cubs series, from May 19 to now (16 games), Bourn is hitting .271 and has raised his on-base percentage, whereas Carlos Lee is batting an anemic .200 with a severe drop in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage. But Lee looks like a great performer in comparison to Tejada, who in this same time, is hitting .185, has seen his batting average drop 40 points, his on-base percentage drop nearly 40 points, and his slugging percentage drop over 60 points.

So bitch all you want about Bourn, but it’s the cattle rancher and the juicer who are really stinking up the ballpark. Maybe if Bourn had a fancy nickname like the Bourn Supremacy, and had a bunch of nut job fans wearing Matt Damon masks out in left field he would get a little respect. Then again, maybe the Astros should see what they can do about getting a shipment of B-12 to Tejada, stat.

I do agree that some lineup changes need to be made, however. So I’d change things up a bit this way. Bourn leads off and plays in center. Mark Loretta bats second and plays short. Hunter Pence bats third and plays in right. Lance Berkman stays at the cleanup spot while starting at first base. Darin Erstad bats fifth and plays left field. Ty Wigginton bats sixth and plays third base. Brad Ausmus bats seventh and catches. Kaz Matsui bats eighth while playing second, and then the pitcher bats ninth.

Sure, the infield defense is a little weaker (but if you’ve been watching lately, then you’ve been watching Tejada butcher a lot of plays his way, so maybe it won’t hurt too much), but the outfield defense will be immensely improved – who knows, maybe there’ll be a few less cheap doubles down the left field line. – John Royal


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