GAME 23 - April 26: Astros 6, Cardinals 5
GAME 24 - April 27: Cardinals 6, Astros 5
GAME 25 - April 28: Cardinals 11, Astros 7
After all these years, Astros fans still boo Carlos Beltran when the Mets come to town. So I was wondering what would happen when the long-time favorite, Lance Berkman, would make his Houston debut in a Cardinals jersey. Just would have been so sad to see the Puma booed. No worry. As Berkman came up for his first at bat in Tuesday night's game, the Houston fans rose to give him a standing O. Classy.
By Thursday night, however, the Puma had worn out our sentimentality. His two homers, a double, and a single combined for 5 RBIs -- that's the exact 5 run difference between the Astros winning and losing the game. Over his visit to Houston, he went 8 for 14, raising his batting average from .377 to .410, second among Major Leaguers. So borrowing a line from Fiddler on the Roof: May the Lord bless him and keep him -- far away from us!
Though the Astros lost this series, I have to give them credit for playing scrappy, exciting games. As a team, they are batting .275, fourth in the NL. They're fifth in the league for runs scored, second in doubles, first in triples. And dead last for homers. But offensively, this is a fun team to watch. The kids hit and they hustle, both on the base paths and out in the field. They lead the league in SB%, and are sixth in total steals. They're third in double plays turned with 25 -- including FIVE in Tuesday night's win! They also lead the league in errors - not a surprise for such a young team. This is not the old Astros team (with the emphasis on OLD) that got shut out all the time -- we've got a NO SHUTOUT streak going this season!
But for all those runs, we're still the worst team in the league for The pitching staff has the worst ERA in the league (5.24), with an opponents batting average over .300. On the other hand, our pitching staff is doing great at the plate -- they lead the league in batting by pitchers.
So, yep, win or lose, this is a really fun team to watch. The games in this series, even the losses, were exciting, with lots of action right to the end. On Wednesday night, the Astros went into the eighth inning down 6-0, and I was worrying about that shutout streak. But they came back for 3 runs in the eighth and another pair in the ninth, with a runner in scoring position when Pence struck out to end the game. The game went down to the very last pitch. Even Thursday night's game, despite the lopsided score, was exciting. The Cards had a huge 9-run sixth as Figeuroa, Abad, and Fulchino engaged in a total meltdown. But other than that, they only scored singleton runs in 2 innings. The Astros were battling to the end, stranding loaded bases in the eighth and another pair of runners in the ninth. So, okay, we lost -- we're going to lose a lot of games this year. We're REBUILDING. But at least we've got a bunch of kids with something to prove. We're losing - ain't it fun???