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Astros-Cubs: One Win (and Two Losses) for the ‘Stros, But Still None for a Starting Pitcher

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How best to sum up this past weekend for the Astros? There’s the losing two of three games to the Chicago Cubs. There’s the wasting of another good Brandon Backe start on Sunday. There’s Roy Oswalt once again pitching poorly on Saturday. There’s the fact that, at one point, Chicago Cubs first baseman Derek Lee had seven hits in eight at-bats, including two home runs. Or that the Astros occupy last place in the National League Central.

How about we try it this way:

The Astros are supposed to be an offensive machine. The powers-that-be saw the pitching would be bad, so they went for offense with the hope that the Astros could just outslug everybody. But there’s a baseball cliché with which to contend: good pitching will always defeat good hitting. And in the past week, the Astros have been virtually shut down by two of the best pitching teams in the National League.

Some of the mighty Astros offensive machine players woke up over the weekend: Carlos Lee did launch a monster home run on Saturday, and Miguel Tejada got that B-12 shot he’s been wanting and went deep Sunday to tie the game (his first homer of the season) in the seventh inning.

But Roy Oswalt has been pitching hurt, and the bullpen has been as crappy as I thought it would be. The defense has been bad, though I think I actually saw Carlos Lee move a few times in left field. Ty Wigginton, who fractured his left thumb on Saturday, now has a new excuse for his poor play, and Lance Berkman hurt his neck running the bases and is day-to-day.

And Bill Brown informed me yesterday – well, he informed everyone who was watching the game – that no Astros starting pitcher has a win this season, despite some excellent performances this weekend from Chris Sampson on Friday (the Astros did win that game 4-3) and Brandon Backe yesterday (the Astros lost 3-2).

So, after one week of play, the Astros suck, as predicted, with a record of 2-5. They’re home Monday, for the first game of a six-game home stand. Wandy Rodriguez gets the starts against the St. Louis Cardinals at 6:05. Shawn Chacon starts Tuesday night, and Chris Sampson gets the start on Wednesday to close out the series with the Cards.

This home stand should be good for the Astros as the Cardinals pitching is even worse than theirs, and the Florida Marlins, who the ‘Stros face this weekend, are essentially fielding a Double-A minor league club. Then again, this is the Astros we’re talking about, so nothing should be taken for granted, especially since the Cards have found a way to go 5-1 to start the season.


The Astros are giving away a silver figurine of Carlos Lee Tuesday night to celebrate his Silver Slugger award. But the figurine doesn’t look like Lee. The figurine appears to be skinny, and in shape. Then again, maybe it would just cost too damn much to make silver figurines that really looked like Carlos Lee.

******************* Jose de Jesus Ortiz has another of his craptacular stories, this one talking about the great leadership qualities of Miguel Tejada. Let’s just hope his leadership qualities don’t lead to the entire team quitting on the season, showing up late, and pouting, i.e., acting like Miguel Tejada did while with the Baltimore Orioles.

******************* I was playing with my MLB Extra Innings on Friday night, and I noticed the Toronto Blue Jays going with the throwback uniform thing – they wore their powder blue road unis from the early-80s. But what I really noticed was their helmets – they were wearing throwback helmets, as well.

I mention this because I know that, at some point this season, the Astros will trot out their throwbacks. And they’ll have all of the players decked out in the rainbows with the orange caps. But when they go to bat, they’ll be using the black helmet. If they’re going throwback, shouldn’t the helmets be throwback, too?

******************** Here’s another edition of why I really like Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies.

The trivia question for Saturday’s game dealt with the last Astros pitcher to win the team’s MVP award. After they decided on Doug Jones, Deshaies started talking about how Craig Biggio had been bogarting the award for awhile. Upon which Bill Brown said, “speaking of Bogarting, do you remember that game Tim Bogar had here several years ago?”

Oh well, I thought it was funny.

******************** For today’s stupid injury – non-Astros edition – we turn to Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro who, Friday night, slipped on the dugout steps at Yankee Stadium. To keep from falling, he grabbed at the netting on the dugout railing, thus slicing his middle and ring fingers of his right hand. The net result, 15 days on the DL.

******************** The Detroit Free Press is already asking if it’s time for Tiger fans to worry. My suggestion, if they haven’t won two games by the end of the month, then it’s time to worry. Until then, chill out.

********************* Here are some interesting baseball stats to get you through the day, courtesy of one of my favorite websites, www.baseballmusings.com.

The Los Angeles of Anaheim have won 161 consecutive games when they’ve had the lead after eight innings. This is the longest streak in the majors. Their last loss when leading after eight innings was April 19, 2006, against the Minnesota Twins.

And as the Astros discovered last week, San Diego’s Jake Peavy has yet to allow a base hit this season with another runner already on base.

Chris Young of the Arizona Diamondbacks hit two home runs on Saturday night. This is the fourth time he’s done this in his last 47 games. He also leads the NL in home runs hit since August 14, 2007.

********************* And for my asshole of the day, I give you baseball stat geek god Bill James. The outrage comes from James suggesting that the late Kirby Puckett abused steroids.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens can defend themselves (in Clemens’ case, defend himself badly). Puckett’s got no way to defend himself against these allegations. So, James, just go bury yourself in some stats and leave the dead alone.

And speaking of Rocket, IRS agent Jeff Novitzky, one of the chief forces behind the steroids investigations, wants to meet with Jose Canseco regarding two photos which allegedly show Rocket posing with an 11-year old boy at Canseco’s house. Canseco has signed an affidavit stating that Rocket wasn’t at the infamous Canseco barbecue, and Canseco has testified that he might have been there. This could be some real trouble for both of them – it’s called perjury. – John Royal

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