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John Royal Is Sick and Tired (No, Seriously)

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Okay, I’m sick – I’ve got flu-like symptoms – so I must be having hallucinations. There’s no other way to explain how, after dragging myself out of the bed where I’ve spent the past several hours and turning on my MLB Extra Innings, I’m seeing the San Francisco Giants beating up on the St. Louis Cardinals by a 5-0 score.

The vaunted offensive machine that is the Houston Astros could barely dent the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff, and the Giants are supposed to have one of the worst offenses in all of the major leagues – Barry Bonds is gone and their offense is supposed to be supplied by catcher Bengie Molina.

So how can this be? Could I, and all of the other “experts,” have been wrong about the Astros? Could the strength of this team actually be the starting pitching, while the weakness is actually the hitting?

No, I might be sick, but I’m not deranged. The Astros pitching really isn’t that good – the Giants, however, have in Matt Cain, Noah Lowry and Tim Lincecum one of the best young starting staffs in baseball (as long as you don’t factor Barry Zito into that equation).

But I digress too much.

The Astros, after a day off, are taking on the Florida Marlins this weekend, with the first of the three games tonight at 7:05. The Astros are throwing the heart of their rotation at the Marlins. Roy Oswalt starts tonight, Brandon Backe (fresh off of pissing off Albert Pujols) gets the start on Saturday, and Wandy Rodriguez pitches on Sunday.

The Marlins, surprisingly, are competitive in the National League East. Yeah, we’re only about a week-and-a-half into the season, but the Marlins are supposed to be the only team in the National League this year capable of challenging the Giants for suckiness. The only two names on the Marlins that you might know, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, were sent to Detroit in the offseason for prospects. But Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez – two underrated infielders who can hit – are perhaps the only anchors on the Marlins. And finishing up his career playing babysitter is former Astro Luis Gonzalez.

Which means the Astros should be able sweep this weekend.

Which is also what I thought when the Cardinals came to town – and boy was I wrong.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS BASEBALL NOTES:

Unlike last season – and many seasons before that – when it was time to celebrate Jackie Robinson’s first major league game, the Astros had no African-Americans to wear his number in his honor. This season, they do, and Michael Bourn will be wearing Robinson’s number 42 on April 15. Hopefully, wearing Robinson’s number will rub off and Bourn will actually get a few hits.

******************** I just wanted to note that my pick for the NL Cy Young, Aaron Harang, got the win as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 4-1 yesterday. He went eight innings while surrendering only five hits and getting 13 groundball outs. But my pick for NL Rookie of the Year, Jay Bruce, is still playing for Cincinnati’s Triple-A farm club.

******************** Our quote of the day is courtesy of SI.com’s Jon Heyman, commenting on my favorite attorney, Rusty Hardin: “Brian McNamee's lawyer, Richard Emery, has a point that Rusty Hardin shouldn't be cross-examining Andy Pettitte considering Pettitte consulted with Hardin before hiring a better lawyer. However, I still wonder why McNamee's lawyers would like Hardin off the Clemens case. Nobody could possibly do worse than he's doing so far. And by the way, the tab's into the millions already, I hear.”

******************** And I’d like to note that it’s been two whole days since Jose de Jesus Ortiz wrote anything stupid. I predict that this will change soon. It’s been too quiet. – John Royal

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