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Astros-Cardinals: Good Pitching Wins Again

I’ve got a confession. I didn’t watch all of the Astros game last night. I’ve got money on the Stanley Cup, so I flipped back and forth between the Astros-Cardinals and the Red Wings-Penguins – go Penguins. But I did see enough to know that the Astros lost 6-1.

St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright shut the vaunted offense down, limiting the Astros to only three hits and one run in his eight innings of work. Wandy Rodriguez went 4.2 innings in his return to the Astros, and the best thing that can be said about his performance is that he didn’t look injured. He gave up six hits in his time on the mound, and the Cardinals scored all six runs off of Wandy, though only three of the runs were earned – Kaz Matsui tried to make a double play where the double play was not possible, thus accounting for the unearned runs.

My man Hunter Pence went hitless, but at some point in time the Cardinals are going to have to learn to not test Hunter’s arm, because he nailed another runner on the bases last night, and that kept the score from probably being even worse.

The Astros’ lone run came on a second inning Ty Wigginton home run into the upper deck. But there must be something wrong with the St. Louis fans in that the kid who got the ball didn’t throw it back onto the field, and the crowd didn’t boo the kid – they must not know how to act as true fans.

The Astros record is now 30-24, and they fell back into third place in the NL Central. Roy Oswalt gets the start tonight as the Astros try to win the series.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS ASTROS NOTES:

I made the mistake of listening to a little sports talk radio yesterday. Hoping to get Charlie Pallilo, I was instead greeted by the vocal stylings of Brad Davies. And Davies, while saying that the Astros probably couldn’t win because of their pitching, attempted to note that great pitching is no longer a must for a winning team.

As his example, he noted that the Boston Red Sox have great pitching, yet are behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the standings. The point being that the Rays don’t have good pitching. And my point being that maybe Davies should do a little homework before discussing the greatness of the Red Sox pitching versus the Rays.

The Rays starting trio of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, and Matt Garza is noted by many as one of the best young rotations in baseball. And fourth starter Edwin Jackson also gets good notice. All four are young kids in their mid-20s. The Rays' pitching stats are also better than the Red Sox’s. The Rays team-ERA is fifth best in the AL, behind only Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, and Oakland. The team-ERA for the BoSox ranks behind all of those teams.

And all five of those teams demonstrate how important pitching is; if it were not for the excellent pitching these teams are getting, they would be far out of their respective races. The Blue Jays’ offense has been in a season-long slump, yet it is hovering around .500 because of the starting pitching. Same for Cleveland, and the Indians’ best starter, C.C. Sabathia, is having a bad season. The White Sox are in first place because of exceptional pitching, and the A’s are in second place because their pitching is making up for the lack of offense.

So, as I said, before making a point, be sure of the facts. The Red Sox are a good team, and they will more than likely overtake the Rays before the season is out. But the Rays have good, young pitching, and if everybody stays healthy, this team should be able to compete for years against the free spending Red Sox and Yankees.

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And to follow on that point, without good pitching, it’s not going to matter how many runs the Astros can score because good pitching always beats good hitting, as was the case last night.

******************* The Jim Deshaies moment of the night came in the sixth inning when he hit upon the meme of Astros reliever Jack Cassel looking like actor Jeremy Piven. But there’s no word on whether Cassel walks around the clubhouse shouting, "Let’s hug it out, bitch."

-- John Royal

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