Astros Still Searching For That Elusive First Win, Believe It Or Not
It's easy to be angry at the Houston Astros now. But for a few notable exceptions, like Carlos Lee, the Astros are performing as expected.
They were swept by the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend, just as they were swept by the San Francisco Giants to open the season. They were destroyed by good pitching, shoddy defense, an inability to hit with men on base, when they could actually get men on base, but most of all, their lack of overall talent just bit them again.
The Astros are 0-6 for the season, the only team yet to win a game this season, and it's not looking like they're going to win a game anytime soon.
The Astros lost 8-0 on Friday in a game that wasn't as close as that final score indicates. Bud Norris failed to get through the third inning, and the hitters failed to do anything of note against J.A. Happ. The Astros actually, for a few innings, held a lead on Saturday night, but big money off-season acquisitions Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom doomed the team to the 9-6 defeat -- Lyon pitching the seventh on Saturday night gave up 3 runs, including a monster three-run homer by Ryan Howard that put the Phillies back in the lead, and Lindstrom gave up two in the ninth.
Roy Oswalt gave up a lead-off homer to Jimmy Rollins yesterday afternoon, and there was just no way, with Roy Halladay pitching, that the Astros were going to win that game, which they didn't, losing 2-1 as Halladay earned his 150th career win while pitching his 50th career complete game.
There aren't many positives from the weekend. The retro uniforms on Saturday night looked great, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wishes the Astros would switch to those classic-looking uniforms from now on instead of these ugly pinstriped pajama-looking things they've been wearing since 2000.
Another positive was Jeff Bagwell, who joined the TV broadcast crew on Saturday night and provided some excellent analysis. Oh, and Hunter Pence not only got an extra-base hit, he hit a homer on Saturday.
But the negatives are numerous. Carlos Lee, who is inexplicably the only Astro to start every game of this 0-6 nightmare season, so far, is 3-for-23 on the season, with no RBI, seven strikeouts, a batting average under .150, and an OBP under .200. Yet when manager Brad Mills attempted to shake up the lineup this weekend, his worst outfielder was the guy who continued to play while Michael Bourn on Saturday, and Hunter Pence on Sunday, got benched.
The justifications for the continued playing of Lee, and the money he makes, are that he hits homers and gets a lot of RBI, and that, despite his lack of speed and hustle, he has learned how to play the Crawford Boxes. Yet his awful outfield play allowed Ryan Howard, not the speediest of players, to get a triple on a ball hit off of the leftfield scoreboard on Saturday night, and which then bounced off of Lee's shoulder.
And seeing as how Lee's nowhere near close to hitting his weight, his continuing to play while (somewhat) better players like Bourn and Pence have to sit is just puzzling.
But the ugliest thing of all, even more ugly than Lee's play, is that the team has drawn only five walks for the entire season -- Jeff Keppinger has three of the five.
Bagwell explained on Saturday that it's difficult for a batter to take pitches and draw a walk when he's pressing, and that these batters are pressing. But the Astros have never been known as a team that takes walks, even when they're not pressing, so while I agree with Bagwell's statement in general, it just doesn't apply to this team.
The Astros are now on their way to St. Louis where they take on the Cardinals for three games. The good news is that the Astros won't have to face Chris Carpenter this series. The bad news is that they will have to face Adam Wainwright, Brad Penny, and Kyle Lohse. So the chances of the team winning game number one anytime soon are looking slight. Very slight.
Then after that, they head to Chicago to face the Cubs for three. It's possible, though there's only a slight chance, that the Astros could return home next week with an 0-12 record.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:
The 0-6 start is the worst start for the Astros since 1983, when they opened the season at 0-9. They finished that season 85-77. I don't see that happening for this Astros team....The Astros have also been outscored 37-13 this season....The Astros only run scored yesterday was an unearned run.
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