Astros-Reds: That’s Five in a Row

At the risk of jinxing the Astros, I’m going to mention that they’ve now won five straight games. With an 11-12 record, the Astros are now one game below the .500 mark. A win tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals would put the Astros at the break even point, a place that they have not been since May 19, 2007 when the team was 21-21.

The Astros defeated the Cincinnati Reds yesterday, winning the game 5-3. Jack Cassel, freshly arrived from AAA Round Rock, went five innings yesterday to get the win, surrendering only three runs while giving up seven hits. Cassel even got in on some of the vaunted offensive machine production when he had got a RBI single in the second inning.

Lance Berkman, once again playing like Great American Ballpark was designed just for him, had three hits in three at bats, with a home run, a double, three RBI and a stolen base. And Hunter Pence continues to put his slow start behind him as he had another multi-hit game yesterday, including a double, and hiked his batting average up to .268.

The luck must really be changing for the Astros as Jose Valverde actually got the save yesterday by pitching a perfect ninth inning.

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The Astros are in St. Louis for a three game weekend series. Shawn Chacon gets the start tonight, with first pitch set for 7:15. Roy Oswalt starts Saturday, with first pitch set for 12:10, and Brandon Backe goes on Sunday with the first pitch set for 1:15.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS BASEBALL NOTES:

The other night, when the vaunted offensive machine started to take off, Hunter Pence gave credit to Kaz Matsui for getting things started. But I must disagree for I feel that the offensive improvement began when Pence started hitting and getting on base.

******************* In order to bring Jack Cassel up to the majors, the Astros designated utility guy Tomas Perez for assignment. This leaves the club with 13 pitchers and 12 fielders. This points to how bad the pitching is since Cecil Cooper and Ed Wade feel the need for so many. And one of the problems with this is that this leaves the Astros with a short bench, which can hurt when it comes to pinch hitters and defensive replacements.

It especially hurts right now since Michael Bourn is out of action with his groin problem, and Brad Ausmus is having trouble with his back. This essentially leaves the Astros with only two bench players.

Then again, with the Astros in second place of the National League for the number of home runs surrendered this season, maybe they might actually need that extra pitcher.

With the Bourn injury, one of those bench players, Darin Erstad has been getting a lot of playing time. I didn’t think much of the Erstad signing at the time. But with his recent play, and with his ability to play all outfield spots and first base, I’m willing to admit that I might have been wrong about him.

******************* The Astros radio guys were really going on about the cozy lines and outfield walls of Great American Ballpark. I guess they’ve never seen a game at MMP. I’ve been to Great American Ballpark, and yes there are a lot of home runs there, but I didn’t find it to be any worse than MMP for cheap homers.

******************* Ken Griffey, Jr. didn’t homer off of the Astros yesterday, so he’s still three homers short of the 600 number. There’s a good post over at Deadspin wondering about something I’ve been thinking about: Where is the acclaim for Griffey, and the around-the-clock coverage as he moves toward this mark? There have been several players pass this mark in the past several years, but it’s worth remembering that Griffey has actually done it without the use of banned substances.

******************* The Astros are not the only vaunted offensive machine coming back to life. The Detroit Tigers are also on a roll, having won four straight and seven of their last ten. The only team in the AL to have scored more runs is the Boston Red Sox, and they have also scored more runs than every NL team but for the Chicago Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

******************* Yesterday, I came upon a story about MLB banning bottled water from dugouts. Instead of water, the teams could only have Gatorade in the dugouts – even though Aquafina is an official sponsor of MLB. This got me to thinking of one of my favorite movies of the past five years, Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.

Then I did some further reading, and found the story to not be true. The so-called “ban” would only apply during the post-season, but bottled water could still be in the dugout as long as the labels were removed.

The moral of the story, kids, is simple: Don’t believe everything because it might not be true. Though that doesn’t apply to anything over here at the Houstoned Ballz. We always tell the truth. Unless we don’t. – John Royal

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