Warming Up

Well, let’s hear it for the Astros, huh? The team comes into the All-Star break having won seven of the last 11 games, including a split in the just-completed series with the NL East-leading New York Mets. That could qualify the team as being hot.

There’s just one problem. When you’re in fifth place, it takes more than just going 7-4.

For those who are only looking at the Astros scores, it’s nice to see that the team’s coming out on the winning side more than the losing. Especially nice seeing as how crappy the team has played most of the season. But if you’re only looking at the Astros scores, you’re failing to notice that the Astros aren’t gaining a lot ground in the NL Central.

The team’s still in fifth place. The team’s still has a double-digit deficit to make up. The team’s still on a pace to lose over 90 games this season.

But seeing as people like to criticize me for being too negative, let’s look at some positives. It would’ve been easy for the Astros to dial it in yesterday following that devastating defeat on Saturday night. Instead, it was the Mets who played like the loser of the marathon. And Hunter Pence and Mark Loretta, after having bad games at the plate on Saturday, both had multiple hit games. Pence even had a double and a triple.

And how about Chris Burke? A home run. Two RBI. Three runs scored. Maybe he’s finally realizing that his career is on the line.

The Astros are now off until Friday when the team travels to Chicago to play the NL Central second place Cubs. Except for Carlos Lee and Roy Oswalt who are to San Francisco for the All-Star Game, the team’s taking a vacation – and no, I’m not going to take a cheap shot about the team not needing a vacation because it’s been on vacation all season. I’ll let you do that.

And I don’t know about you, but let’s all be thankful that Carlos Lee wasn’t chosen to participate in the Home Run Derby. We all know what happened the last time an Astro was chosen – Morgan Ensberg’s career evaporated before our eyes. And I’ve got some friends in New York – yes, I have friends – who claim that David Wright and Bobby Abreu haven’t been the same since they were in the contest. -- John Royal

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