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Astros-Marlins: How Did Roy Oswalt Become Woody Williams?

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Hey, the Astros won two games this weekend, two of the three games they should have won, considering they were playing the Double-A caliber Florida Marlins. The vaunted offense came to life for all three games, scoring six, five, and five runs, respectively. The ‘Stros lost 10-6 to the Marlins on Friday as Roy Oswalt continued his impersonation of Woody Williams. Brandon Backe pitched a painful-to-watch five innings on Saturday as the Astros got the 5-0 win, and Wandy Rodriguez continued to pitch like Cy Young at MMP as the Astros got the 5-1 win on Sunday.

But while the team is now 5-8 on the season (YAY! team), this is still a sucky team. The vaunted offense seems to only fire on the home run cylinder. Three runs on Friday, two on Saturday and three on Sunday came by homer. And though Michael Bourn homered on Sunday, his average is sitting at the non-stratospheric number of .213. And Hunter Pence and J.R. Towles are hovering in the low .200s.

Teams cannot rely on home runs alone when it comes to offense because good pitching – as we witnessed with the Padres and Cubs – shut down home run-only teams.

But I guess I should do like the rest of the fans and bury my head in the sand and be grateful for the team’s great display of power. But I just can’t do it.

The Astros have today off before traveling to Philadelphia for three games with the Phillies starting on Tuesday night. They’ll return home on Friday for a three game set with the Rockies followed by two more games at MMP with the Padres.


Brandon Backe’s victory over the Marlins on Saturday night was the first win for an Astros starting pitcher this season. However, as stupid as I consider the quality start stat to be, in this situation, it can’t be said that Backe pitched a quality start. Five innings, 105 pitches, and five walks is not a quality start. And the fact that another Astros starter had to once again depend on the bullpen to hold a team down for more than two innings points to what many of us said prior to the season: The Astros pitching sucks.

And despite what Jose de Jesus Ortiz tells me about how Wandy Rodriguez has finally arrived as a big league starter, I’m going to withhold judgment until Rodriguez shows that he can actually pitch on the road. Don’t forget that Wandy was barely able to make it through five innings in the pitcher’s paradise that is San Diego. Still, the guy’s starts at MMP have shown that he’s capable of being an ace. Then again, it’s only with a mediocre team like Houston (or perhaps Florida or Washington) that a perfectly mediocre pitcher like Wandy Rodriguez would have been given so many chances.

But really, am I the only one out there who’s upset by the fact that the Astros are having to depend on the likes of Backe and Rodriguez to be team aces? This leads us to the question of the weekend: What is wrong with Roy Oswalt? Is he injured? Has he been cursed in some fashion by Woody Williams?

Oswalt’s numbers from Friday night would point to a Woody curse: four innings, nine hits, four home runs, and eight earned runs. Oswalt’s ERA after three games, 9.00, also points to a Woody curse.

But it’s this statement, if anything, that points to a Woody curse: “I looked at two of the home runs, and they were exactly what I wanted to throw,” Oswalt told the Chron. “I've never been through this before where I throw good pitches and guys get hits.”

And as any of you who were hanging around in the spring remember, such statements as that were readily coming from the mouth of one Woody Williams. So, the questions remain: Is something wrong with Roy Oswalt? And what does Woody Williams have to do with it?

******************** I wish the Astros would make up their minds. Thursday night, Ty Wigginton was fine and not going on the DL. Friday night, Ty Wigginton was placed on the DL. Do you guys need to get a new team doctor, or something?

And here’s a real shocker: Kaz Matsui, playing rehab games down in Corpus, had to be scratched from a start Friday night because of back spasms. Wow, who would’ve thought it? Matsui, a man who’s never played a complete major league season because of back problems, is missing games because of back problems.

******************* I just wanted to say that I really like the commercials for 1560 The Game I’ve been seeing during the Astros broadcasts. However, am I the only one troubled with the photo of Lance Berkman in the spot? You know, it says “Big Puma happens here” with Berkman in the studio, holding a box of TWINKIES!

I know it’s a joke. And in many ways, it’s damn funny. But Big Puma’s other nickname is Fat Elvis, and that’s because he’s not known for having the best of diets. He constantly comes to camp out-of-shape, and he’s constantly pulling and tweaking muscles that he probably wouldn’t pull or tweak were he in shape. I know, I know, the man gets his hits. But still, I can’t be the only tired of Berkman’s lackadaisical approach to baseball – something he’s getting paid many millions of dollars a year to play.

******************* Miguel Tejada doesn’t have to worry about a suspension coming from Bud Selig because of the Mitchell Report. However, he’s not yet off the hook with the Feds.

-- John Royal

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