Wandy Rodriguez Shows Potential (Yet Again)

I've got to confess that I don't have a lot of faith in Wandy Rodriguez -- when a pitcher's 30, you still shouldn't be talking about potential. Yet it's games like yesterday's 5-0 Astros victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that leaves some people raving about Rodriguez's potential, and leaves others like me pissed about his inability to do this over a complete season.

I was actually in attendance for yesterday's game, and I've just got to say that Rodriguez's pitching performance was one of the more dominating performances I've seen in a while. He threw the second complete game of his career while tying his career-high with 11 strikeouts.  He gave up five hits and walked only one while throwing just 125 pitches. It's a game like this that encourages the talk about the potential of a 30-year-old pitcher because the guy was in just about total control for the entire game.

It's the kind of game that San Francisco Giants fans get to see whenever Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain pitch, but it's one that's seldom seen in Houston except for the increasingly rare Roy Oswalt game. It's the kind of baseball game that I love to watch. Excellent pitching with some good defense and the Astros taking advantage of the speed of Michael Bourn. It was also the fourth complete game of the season for the Astros.

There were some problems. Third base coach Dave Clark once again sent a runner to the plate only to have the runner nailed on a decent throw -- this time it was Miguel Tejada trying to score from first on a Lance Berkman double in the third. Luckily, the screw-up didn't cost the Astros this time, but at some point, the Astros' coaching staff has to get it into their skulls that except for Bourn and Hunter Pence, most of the guys in the everyday lineup are rather old and not really that fast.  

The Astros record improved to 41-42, once again moving to within one game of the break-even point on the season. That's a mark the Astros have been striving, and failing, to hit since the second game of the season. And with five games against the Washington Nationals coming up starting tomorrow -- they're finishing up a suspended game from May plus playing four regularly scheduled games against the worst team in baseball -- the Astros should be able hit the .500 mark and soar past it. Then again, playing five games against the worst team in baseball is just the right cue for the Astros to completely fall apart this weekend.

But forget that. Yesterday's game was a fun game to watch, and here's hoping that at some point Wandy Rodriguez is able to put together a complete season of games like the one he pitched yesterday. I don't think I could take more articles from the Chron come next spring talking about Rodriguez's untapped potential.

P.S.: The attendance for yesterday's game was supposedly 29,243. But as one who was at the game and noticed the large number of empty seats, I can't help but wonder if the Astros have the same people counting up the attendance as those who handle the Aeros game and report 3,000 crowd games on those nights when there are more hockey players on the benches than there are people in the stands.

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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