Nothing is better for a struggling Houston Astros team than a trip to St. Louis? That doesn't make any sense. St. Louis is in first place in the NL Central. Houston? They aren't in first place, or second, or third or fourth. Nope, they proudly reside in fifth place, one game back of the powerful Pittsburgh Pirates.
And this is after a three game sweep of the Cardinals.
Astros baseball! After two eight game losing streaks, a third place finish isn't impossible, just improbable! I think that would be a great slogan for the rest of the season.
Now, don't get too excited Astros fans, I don't believe we are about to launch ourselves back in the division race.
But maybe, just maybe, we can compete for third or fourth place in the division. And truthfully, if we somehow finish ahead of the Cubs, then I consider this season a resounding success.
To move ahead of some other teams, we'll need more games like Thursdays. Timely hitting against a good pitcher. Good defensive plays at the right time and starting pitching that dominates.
Lance Berkman and Hunter Pence provided the clutch hitting.
Berkman made a great defensive play in the eighth inning to prevent a run.
Bud Norris did what he always does to the Cards. Dominate them. He is now 4-0 against St. Louis, including 3-0 at Busch Stadium. He needs to pitch like this against everyone.
Heading into yesterdays game, his E.R.A. was closer to 10 than three. Both of his victories this season have come on the road against St. Louis.
It must have something to do with his nickname. Bud. The relationship between the Cardinals and Budweiser must give him some type of special power.
Maybe he can also have some success against the Brewers.
Someone give Felipe Paulino a cool nickname. He could really use some wins. And control.
All kidding aside, it's a good feeling to see the team starting to hit.
I know Berkman and Pence care and want to win. When they produce like they did this weekend, the Astros will take a game or two, even the odd series from a better team.
If Norris can continue to improve the starting pitching wouldn't seem that bad. Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriquez and a consistent Norris would be a decent 1-2-3 start to a rotation.
Norris has the stuff of at least a no. two starter. His success like most pitchers depends on his command. Staying away from the one big inning has also been a problem.
Of course, if Bud continues to pitch well, it makes it even easier on the Astros to trade Oswalt near the deadline. If they can get one or two top prospects for Roy, they need to pull the trigger.
The bats this season are never going to be great.
Outside of Michael Bourn, Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee, the hitters are below average at every position. So more often than not, pitching is going to have to carry the team or at least nudge it towards victory.
Enjoy the sweep over the Cardinals in St. Louis. It doesn't happen often. And after the start to this season, no one would have predicted it happening this year.
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