Astros Keep Busy... At Sucking

Yesterday was a busy day for the Astros. Not only did they lose their sixth straight game in a row -- and their second straight to the Reds -- but they also had to deal with Cecil Cooper calling a team meeting to discuss the team's poor play.

There's no word from the clubhouse over whether Cooper's crappy managing was discussed, but according to the Chron, one veteran player implored his teammates to stop trashing Cooper in the media. Jose de Jesus Ortiz won't name this player -- not until he's talked to him -- but I'm thinking it's either Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada, or Lance Berkman, primarily because I don't really think any of them care much about actually winning.

Meanwhile, the shocking news is that Kaz Matsui is injured. Yes, I know that's hard to believe since Matsui has been like a Japanese version of Cal Ripken as an Astro, but he injured his right hamstring on Monday night, and he did not play last night. Geoff Blum, meanwhile, injured his left hamstring over the weekend, and he can't play, and since neither guy has been put on the DL yet, the Astros are a bit short of extra players.  

And this should offer a clue as to just how bad the pitching staff is: I'm hoping that the Astros will hurry up and return Brandon Backe to the rotation. He can't be any worse than Mike Hampton or Brian Moehler, can he? Roy Oswalt ain't exactly pitching like Mr. Ace-of-the-Staff either. It's a shame that the team's young pitching talent -- slim as it was -- was shipped off to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada. Maybe Tejada should give some B-12 shots to Oswalt and the gang, because the pitching could sure use a boost.

Backe had his last rehab start over the weekend, and he is just awaiting word from the team on his status. Cooper says he'll hand down a decision come Friday. But I suspect that Drayton McLane will end up ordering that the Galveston native be returned to rotation so he can push the local boy product again.

Backe also received word yesterday that he was cleared by a Galveston grand jury yesterday of any wrongdoing from when he got his ass kicked by the Galveston Police Department last October. It was nice of Drayton to stand by him like that. But you've got to wonder why Drayton didn't stand behind Julio Lugo years ago like he stood behind Backe. Then again, thanks to Drayton being a hypocrite, Lugo's got a World Series ring and a couple of nice free-agent contracts.

As for the game last night, the Astros just looked awful. They lost 6-4 last night in a game they shouldn't have lost in that Oswalt was pitching and he was 23-1 career against the Reds. But though he's still 23-1, he barely made it through six innings. He issued a walk with the bases loaded in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4, and he injured his pitching hand attempting to field a Joey Votto grounder in the fifth.

But if there's anything to feel good about, it's this. The Astros might be in last place with an 18-26 record and a .409 winning percentage and eight games back, but at least they don't have the worst record in baseball. No, the Washington Nationals are 13-32 with a .289 winning percentage. And the Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Indians also have records that are worse than the Astros.

So see, things could be worse. We could be Washington Nationals fans.

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John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal