The Astros roared off to a 4-0 lead in the first inning last night, and the St. Louis Cardinals, despite a four-for-four night from Albert Pujols, could just never catch up, losing to the Astros 8-2.
Shawn Chacon, after setting the major league record with ten straight non-decisions to start a season, recorded his second straight win, and even though the Cards seemed to be hitting him pretty good, they could never put together a rally to trim the lead. And while Albert Pujols had a perfect night at the bat, I want to make sure and note that my man Hunter Pence was also perfect on the night, going five-for-five from the plate – his career high – while making a great throw in the fourth inning to nail Rick Ankiel at the plate, shutting down an attempted Cardinals rally. Pence, who got off to a slow start to open up the season, has now raised his average up to .311.
Chacon meanwhile went seven innings while surrendering only two runs. He lowered his earned run average to 3.95, which is the best ERA on the Astros starting staff.
The Astros raised their record to 30-23 and now find themselves tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for second place in the NL Central.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:
It’s good that we’re all basking in the glory of Lance Berkman, but I want us all to take a look at Albert Pujols. Pujols is batting .360 with 12 HR and 34 RBI. His slugging percentage is only .593, and his on-base percentage is .474 (going into last night’s game). Sure, the batting average and slugging percentage pale when compared to Berkman – then again, the slugging percentage is lower because Pujols walks more than Berkman – but while Berkman is far exceeding his career norms, Pujols is about on target for what he has done his entire career. His lowest ever batting average is .314, while his highest career average is .359. His career low slugging percentage is .561, while his career high is .671. His career low on-base percentage is .394 and his career high is .439.
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Those are remarkable numbers for a guy who’s never played less than 143 games in a season. So while we all hate Pujols for what he’s done to the Astros in the past, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t sit back and appreciate his career.
***************** I wanted to introduce everybody to a new team stat. Well, it’s not so new, but unless you check the standings over at MLB.com, you probably never see it. It’s called the Expected Win-Loss Record. I’m not going to go into all of the math (I’ll let the guys at Fire Joe Morgan handle that) but suffice to say, it involves looking at the runs allowed versus the runs scored to arrive at what a team’s record should be, according to those stats. The Astros overall record might be 30-23, but the Expected Win-Loss Record (X W-L) should be 27-26.
What this generally means is, that if your team’s record is better than the Expected Win-Loss, and if the number of runs scored is the same as, or close to, the number of runs surrendered, then you should probably be expecting said team’s actual record to worsen at some point so as to bring things into balance. I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy of this stat, but I just thought it was something interesting to look at if, like me, you’re trying to figure out how the Astros have a winning record.
***************** The Astros have made a couple of roster moves since Sunday’s loss to the Phillies. Fernando Nieve was sent down to Round Rock. Jack Cassel was called up from Round Rock. Wandy Rodriguez is returning to the starting rotation tonight, and Chris Sampson is being sent to the bullpen. To make way for Wandy's return, reliever Dave Borkowski was designated for assignment. – John Royal