The Elephant in the Room

I just thought that you guys might like to know that, in winning two of three from the White Sox, the Astros won a series for the first time in nearly a month.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Hunter Pence injured a hip-flexor Friday night. He’s day-to-day. Luke Scott was also injured, and is also day-to-day. Lance Berkman, facing a two-game suspension for charging an umpire in a game against the Rockies last week, melted down again Friday night and was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes – that’s a no-no.

The Astros are 4-5 for the month of June, and the team’s record for the season is 26-36. There’s one game left in Chicago – that’s against the Cubs tonight (making up a game rained out in April) – then the Astros return home for six-game home stand. The first three games are against the Oakland A’s. And though the A’s are in third place in the four-team AL West, the Astros are going to have a tough time winning these games.

The A’s are six games over .500. The team has won eight of its last ten games. The pitching staff has an ERA of 3.16 (to contrast, the Astros team pitching ERA is 4.42 – that’s nearly a run-and-a-half per game difference). Starter Dan Haren has a record of 7-2 with a 1.58 ERA (luckily, the Astros don’t have to face him). Thursday afternoon’s starter, Chad Gaudin, is 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA. Wednesday will see Chris Sampson going up against Joe Blanton, who’s just 5-4 with a 3.60 ERA. The Astros face the weak spot in the A’s rotation on Tuesday night, when Joe Kennedy, 2-4, 3.23, gets the start against Roy Oswalt, 6-4 and 3.38.

And once the Astros have finished with Oakland, there’s a three-game series with the AL West second place team, the Seattle Mariners. Then the ‘Stros get to fly out to Anaheim for a three-game series with the AL West leading Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the West Coast of the United States of the Western Hemisphere of the Planet Earth.

Tonight’s game features the disaster that is Woody Williams going up against the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano’s had a disappointing season – pitching wise because it appears that, boxing wise, he got the better of his catcher in their little dugout-and-clubhouse fight a couple of weeks ago. But he’s always been tough on the Astros, and there’s nothing that indicates that the Astros have figured out how to solve him.

The Cubs, as a team, are currently tied for second place in the NL Central. The Astros, after today’s loss, are only a half-game better than the Pirates in the battle for fifth place.

I know I didn’t really write much about the Astros in this post, which is kind of what I’m supposed to do, but really, what’s there to write? The only sign of life on the team – besides Berkman taking his failure-to-hit issues out on the umpires – has been Hunter Pence. And he’s injured. And I’m sick of writing about how bad the Astros are. So, I though I’d let you know a bit about the A’s. – John Royal

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