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Astros-Cardinals: St. Louis Smacks Houston Again

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The St. Louis Cardinals should not be able to defeat this season’s Astros. Even with the Astros’ lousy pitching, the Cardinals offense is essentially only Albert Pujols. But the Astros and Cardinals have now played nine games this season, and somehow, the Cardinals have found a way to win six of those games.

Last night, Kyle Lohse, who wasn’t even signed by the Cardinals until midway through spring training, shut down the vaunted offense, limiting the Astros to one run, a Carlos Lee seventh-inning home run. Roy Oswalt, pitching perhaps his best game of the season, got the loss, the Astros not being able to recover from the two first-inning runs he surrendered or from Albert Pujols’ sixth-inning home run that put the Cards up 3-0.

Carlos Lee led off the seventh with a homer off of Lohse to make the score 3-1, and Hunter Pence followed with a single. That was enough for Lohse, who was removed from the game, but for some reason, with Pence at second and two out, Cecil Cooper made the puzzling decision to allow Roy Oswalt to hit for himself, which resulted in the inning’s final out. Lance Berkman homered to lead off the ninth, but that was it, and the game ended in a 3-2 Astros loss.

The funny thing is that every series with the Cardinals this season has started the same way: the Astros have won the first game, and the Cards have won the final two games. The teams, Central Division rivals, face each other only six more times this season. The Cards will be in Houston next weekend for three games, and then the Cards return to MMP for three games at the end of August.

The Astros record dropped to 30-25 after last night’s loss. They are now two games behind the second place Cards, and 3.5 games back of the first place Cubs.


I would be expecting a Roger Clemens comeback soon because not only is Greg Maddux closing in on him in career wins, but last night, Randy Johnson tied the Rocket for second all-time with 4,672 strikeouts.

***************** The totals for the first round of National League All-Star voting came out on Wednesday. And I’ve got a few comments. First, it’s good to see that the rest of the country recognizes the greatness of Lance Berkman’s season, so far, and he’s justifiably number one in the voting. But could someone please explain how Kaz Matsui has been able to get 182,827 votes for second place in the voting to start at second base?

Chase Utley of the Phillies is justifiably in the number one spot, but I just can’t understand how any fan who’s been paying any attention to baseball has given Matsui more votes than Dan Uggla of the Marlins, Brandon Phillips of the Reds, or Kelly Johnson of the Braves. Their numbers are all superior to those of Matsui. I know some of you out there only vote for guys on a team, but I’m one of those who believes that the best players putting up the best numbers should actually play in the All Star Game, and Kaz Matsui is nowhere near the best second baseman.

The same goes for Miguel Tejada. Not only is there that whole steroid/liar thing going on with him, but he’s not a better player than Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies or Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins is. And I don’t understand how Carlos Lee can have more votes than Hunter Pence. After a slow start, Pence has been on a tear with the bat, and he’s a far superior outfielder to Lee. I’d really like to see what Pence’s numbers looked like if he was batting behind Lance Berkman everyday. So come on, if you want an Astro besides Lance Berkman to make the All-Star Game, forget Tejada and Matsui and Lee. Throw your votes to Pence because he actually deserves them.

***************** The Astros are in Milwaukee this weekend for a three game series with the Brewers. The Brewers got off to a slow start this season, but have crawled back to a 26-28 record, and have won six out of their last ten games. Brandon Backe gets the start tonight. Brian Moehler pitches on Saturday night, and Shawn Chacon closes out the series on Sunday afternoon. – John Royal

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