Color me unimpressed by the debut of Randy Wolf for the Astros on Sunday. Given an 8-4 lead in the fifth inning, he needed Chris Sampson to come bail him out. Wolf in turn gave the Astros just what they needed, another starter who can’t give his team a quality start. But it’s looking like Chris Sampson may have finally found his role on the team as he’s continuing to shut down the opposition whenever he comes in from the bullpen.
The Astros won 11-6 on Sunday, and they won two of the three games against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend to pull themselves out of last place. But to me, this weekend just bodes ill for the rest of the season because I’m sure that, as I’m typing this, Ed Wade is telling Drayton McLane that 11-6 victories are just what he intended for this season and that the Astros are now poised to make their move up the standings and into the playoffs. And I just know that Drayton is smiling, nodding his head, and telling Wade to trade Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, Mark Loretta, and Darin Erstad for Manny Ramirez.
The Astros’ record is now 48-56, and they are ensured another sub-.500 month (the best they can do for July is 11-13). They’ll close July with a three-game set in Houston against the Cincinnati Reds – a series which, depending on how you look at it, is the continuation of the battle for last place, or the beginning of the battle for fourth place. Roy Oswalt (7-8, 4.56) gets the Monday night start against Johnny Cueto (7-9, 4.90). Brian Moehler (5-4, 4.45) goes against Bronson Arroyo (9-7, 5.60) on Tuesday. And the series ends with Wandy Rodriguez (6-3, 3.18) pitching against Edinson Volquez (12-4, 2.77) on Wednesday.
****************** Roy Oswalt is coming off of the disabled list to make the start on Monday. I just have this feeling that things are still being rushed with Oswalt. The season is over for the Astros. There is no way this team is going to make the playoffs, or even get back into contention for the playoffs (to merely finish at the breakeven point, the Astros are going to have to go 33-25 for the rest of the season; to win 88 games, which is generally the low-end for wins to make the playoffs, they need to go 40-18, and there’s just no way that happens with this team.)
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Let Oswalt rest up. Make sure he’s healthy. Tell him to take some time off. His availability for the rest of his career is more important than his availability for this season.
****************** Cecil Cooper’s newest brainstorm is moving Miguel Tejada to the number two slot in the batting order. And it worked OK over the weekend, but I’m pretty sure this is going to end up just like every other move with Tejada. Remember how he started to hit for a couple of days when he moved to the fifth spot? The only brainstorm Cooper should be having is the benching of Tejada in favor of Mark Loretta. But why do I think this move will never happen?
****************** I love Bill Brown – he’s by far the best play-by-play guy in the city. But at one point during Sunday’s game he made fun of the Brewer fans screaming on a Prince Fielder pop-up. I guess he’s never noticed the way the fans inside Minute Maid Park erupt whenever Tejada pops a ball about ten feet into the air.
****************** Darin Erstad will be the starting center fielder for the near-future while Michael Bourn – who was just starting to get hot with the bat – recovers from an ankle injury he suffered Saturday night. And while the injury to Bourn is bad enough, it gets worse in that it means that there is no way that Carlos Lee will be pulled from a game for a defensive replacement. -- John Royal