Thankfully, another month of the Astros' season has come to an end. That’s 107 games of abject mediocrity down, 55 more to go. The Astros were 4-8 for July’s first 12 games and 6-6 for the second 12 for a 10-14 mark and another sub-.500 month. So let’s take a quick look at what’s in store for the Astros in August.
NEW YORK METS
The Astros start off this month tonight here at Minute Maid Park for a weekend series with the surging New York Mets. Unlike the Astros, the Mets are playing for something: the postseason. And Astros fan, let’s finally act like adults, okay? There’s no need to keep booing Carlos Beltran. The guy only played here for half a season. So grow up.
Following the Mets the Astros head off to Chicago for three games against the Cubs. The Cubs, like the Mets, are actually playing meaningful games, and also unlike the Astros, they actually have decent players at every position – they don’t have any aged, over-the-hill hacks like Miguel Tejada stinking up their lineup.
From Chicago the Astros go to Cincinnati for a four games in what should be a meaningful battle for last place. Now the Reds unloaded Ken Griffey Jr. yesterday, but the rest of the team is still around, a team that the Astros have managed to beat for most of the past two seasons. But we are talking about the Astros, so don’t be shocked if the Reds find a way to win all four.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
The Astros then come home for a four game series with the Giants. The Giants have a bad record, but the Giants also have something the Astros don’t have: a young promising starting pitcher rotation anchored by Cy Young hopeful Tim Lincecum. The Giants aren’t much on offense, but then again, the Astros aren’t much on pitching, so the two teams should be evenly matched.
The D-Backs are currently leading the NL West. The D-Backs are also struggling to stay above the break-even point. However, if the stars are aligned, Astros fan might get to witness the Astros being shut down by Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, and Randy Johnson – that’s two current Cy Young candidates and a former multiple Cy Young winner.
The Astros now head off to Milwaukee for three games with the Brewers. The Astros were lucky last time out in that they didn’t have to face the Brewers' best pitchers, but don’t expect the Astros to get 11 runs off of Ben Sheets and/or C.C. Sabathia. And the Brewers are also in a tight race for the playoffs, so I would expect them to come down hard on the Astros.
NEW YORK METS
The Astros then get their only day off of the month before heading out for their last series ever in the soon to be demolished eyesore that is Shea Stadium for a four-game weekend series with the Mets. The Mets could have the NL East wrapped up by this time. The Mets could still be in the midst of a tough three-way fight for the NL East title. The Mets could also be out of it by this time. But if the Astros are lucky, they won’t have to face Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana again.
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Then the Astros come home for three more games with the Reds. Both teams should still be battling it out for last place in the NL Central, so this may be one of the few times this month that the Astros are actually playing for something.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
The Astros close out the month by playing the Cardinals in a three-game series. This will be the last time these two teams meet this season. The Cardinals have surprised everyone by staying in the race for the playoffs. It’s my belief that the Cards will finally be out of by the time this series rolls around, but I’ve been wrong about the Cardinals all season.
With nothing to play for this month – except staying out of last place – I’m going to say the Astros just dial it in, and they will be lucky to get to double digits in wins. I’m saying they go 11-19 on the month. Let’s see just how bad they can get. -- John Royal