HOUSTON - JUNE 29: Ian Kinsler #5 of the Texas Rangers leaps to avoid being hit by the ball after offering a bunt during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 29, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
The Astros have hit the halfway point of the season today with game 81 and a record of 28 and 52. The realization that they might miss the playoffs this year is just seeping in. Entering the game they had lost 18 of their last 23 games. Jim Deshaies has recently coined this season as the "Season of Discovery". Today the Astros would find out if they would go the rest of the season without shoes as the deciding game of the Silver Boot series had Colby Lewis versus Brett Myers.
The idea of receiving the Silver Boot seemed to ring with the Rangers. Ian Kinsler was first up and homered on a 2-2 count to give the Rangers' a 1-0 lead. Josh Hamilton's groundout scored Andres Blanco to extend the lead to 2-0. The score would stay stagnant till Kinsler hit a homerun on a full count in the 3rd. Earlier in the at bat, Kinsler was hit trying to bunt, but it was ruled a home plate umpire Bob Davidson as a strike. After that homerun, Brett Myers really got into a grove after that and kept those pesky Rangers in check.
Pence finally broke Lewis's no hitter in the 4th with a single with two outs mainly because he really wanted a silver boot. Michael Bourn also got a hit in the 6th but like Pence was stranded. The Panamanian Devil, Carlos Lee, hit his 6th homerun of the season in the 7th to cut the Rangers lead to 2. Then Matt Downs, who is receiving more playing time in this season of discovery, hit a double. Clint Barmes hit a 2 out R.B.I. single to cut the deficient to 1. Carlos Corporan hit a two out double to advance Barmes to 3rd. Brian Bogusevic almost got to enter the game, but the Rangers pulled Lewis and put in Darren Oliver. So, Jason Michaels pinch hit for Myers and promptly grounded out to end the inning. Wilton Lopez came in the 8th and was perfect with 2 strikeouts. Bourn opened the 8th with a single off Oliver. Bourn was picked off by Oliver with Keppinger batting for the 1st out. Keppinger subsequently flied out. Mark Lowe came in to pitch to Pence with 2 outs and struck him out. Lopez retired the side in the 9th. Neftali Feliz entered the 9th attempting to pick up his 16th save of the year. He walked Carlos Lee to open the inning. Matt Downs struck out to record the 1st out of the inning. Brett Wallace struck out on a full count, and Carlos Lee was caught stealing to end the game. The loss meant the Rangers had clinched the Silver Boot. Brett Myers took his 7th loss after pitching 7 inning and giving up 3 runs and striking out 4. Colby Lewis picked up his 7th win and Feliz got his 16th save.
On the positive side to end with, the Astros didn't successfully steal a base in today's game so that's a moral victory in my book. Plus, every Astros uniform seemed pretty clean with no nasty grass or dirt stains. If the Astros go 54 and 27 for the second half of the season, they will be 1 game over .500. The hunt for a winning season continues tomorrow versus the Rangers. Maybe without the Silver Boot pressure, the Astros can hit their stride because tomorrow is a new day.