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Astros-Cardinals: Back Down to Five Hundred

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The strangeness that makes up this season’s meetings between the Houston Astros and the St. Louis Cardinals continued this weekend. There have been four series thus far, and the Astros have won the first game of every series and then lost the next two.

The Astros offense came to life Friday night as the team got to Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper to win 6-1. But the Cardinals offense resurrected on Saturday night, scoring seven runs in the second inning off of starter Shawn Chacon – on five hits and two homers – as the Cardinals coasted to the 8-4 win. Then with Wandy Rodriguez seemingly coasting to a 3-0 victory on Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals got to him for five runs in the seventh inning and went on to win the game 5-4.

The loss dropped the Astros to the five hundred mark (32-32) for the first time since early May. The third-place Milwaukee Brewers will be visiting MMP for a three-game series starting on Tuesday night. Roy Oswalt (4-6, 5.38) will get that start, opposing Seth McClung (3-2, 4.25). Brandon Backe (4-7, 4.66) gets the Wednesday night start against Manny Parra (4-2, 4.38). And Brian Moehler (3-2, 3.76) will start Thursday’s afternoon matinee against Ben Sheets (6-1, 2.62).


I have expressed my love for Jim Deshaies many, many times. But J.D. made a mistake Sunday afternoon while promoting this weekend’s games against the New York Yankees. The mistake was J.D. saying that this would be the Yankees' first-ever visit to Minute Maid Park, which is partly correct in that the Yankees have never played here during the regular season, and while never having played at MMP, the Yankees did play at Enron Field.

I’m sure most of us have forgotten that the first game at Enron was an exhibition game against the Yankees.

***************** I’m getting a bit pissed at Cecil Cooper’s handling of Hunter Pence. Cooper continues to treat Pence as his little plaything, moving him up and down the batting order. It appears that Cooper’s now decided Pence will bat leadoff, which seems to be a waste of Pence’s power and RBI ability, especially since Cooper stupidly continues to not only play Miguel Tejada and Carlos Lee, but also stupidly continues to bat them in the third and fifth spots.

It also appears that fall-guy for the Astros recent inability to score is Michael Bourn, who Cooper is saying won’t start as much, and who he will bat lower in the order when he does play. (It appears Bourn will be splitting time with Darin Erstad and Reggie Abercrombie, who was brought up to the team after Jose Cruz, Jr. was released Friday night.) I guess Cooper hasn’t been keeping track of Lee and Tejada’s recent stats or else he would have their asses sitting on the bench every night. Tejada went two for eight over the Cardinal series. Lee was also two for eight. And Bourn was four for eight. So Bourn’s average continues to rise, yet he sits while the two big slumpers continue to start.


****************** Speaking of amazing, the Astros made a brief attempt to get back into the game on Saturday. With the score 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the bases loaded, and only one out, Cecil Cooper sent Geoff Blum up to pinch hit. Carlos Lee didn’t start, so he was sitting on the bench. When asked why Lee didn’t pinch hit, Cooper responded that he was waiting for a game-changing situation.

Huh? What can be more of a game-changing situation than bases loaded and one out?

I wouldn’t have used Lee because I think he sucks, but if you’re waiting for a game-changing situation, I don’t know what could be more of one than a chance to make the score 7-6. This is the same kind of stupidity that says the closer can only be used in the ninth inning.

Supposedly, the closer is the best pitcher in the bullpen, and he should be able to get the tough outs, yet managers refuse to go to their best relief pitcher when the bases are loaded with one out in the seventh inning because they want to save him for the end of the game. But if you go with the likes of Oscar Villarreal to get out in the seventh inning, then often times you’re not going to have to worry about saving your closer for the ninth inning because their won’t be any win for him to close out.

I don’t understand misusing relievers like that. And I don’t understand not using your power bat for a bases-loaded situation because it’s supposedly not a game-changing situation.

****************** And for anyone who is curious, Lance Berkman’s home run on Sunday was the third-longest home run in MMP history. – John Royal

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