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Matchup/Game Thread

3 - 6, 7.41 1 - 2, 10.67

In honor of the fact that the Astros are smack dab in the middle of a three-game stretch against left-handed starting pitching, I present the following chart as series preview:

OPS vs.
Blue Jay Player Pos Astro Player OPS vs.
.762 Gregg Zaun C1 Brad Ausmus .756
.228 Ken Huckaby C2 Humberto Quintero ---
.806 x Eric Hinske 1B Lance Berkman .661
.729 Orlando Hudson 2B Craig Biggio x .804
.959 Aaron Hill 3B Morgan Ensberg x 1.064
.727 x Russ Adams SS Adam Everett .349
.800 x Frank Catalanotto OF1 Willy Taveras .553
.792 x Reed Johnson OF2 Todd Self .500
.726 x Alex Rios OF3 Chris Burke .477
.656 x Vernon Wells OF4 Jason Lane .474
.794 Shea Hillenbrand Util/DH Mike Lamb .626
.000 Ted Lilly P1 Wandy Rodriguez x 1.000
.000 Gustavo Chacin P2 Roger Clemens x .542
.000 Josh Towers P3 Roy Oswalt .347
21 - 23
Record vs. RHS Record vs. LHS 6 - 14

Of course, the Astros don't look so good in this particular table, but hey, they're 6 - 4 in their last ten, and have won two straight road series. They're needing my help less and less I think; they're starting to look OK without the introduced bias through my selective statistical filters. . . .

Again, except here. We're still real weak against lefties, and of course both Lilly and Chacin fit that bill.

But Blue Jays--and Lilly to start--have their own problems. First off, they've had this road trip from hell kind of thing going on over the last eleven days at Seattle at Oakland and at the Cubs without an off day until yesterday, when I'm sure they were all just sleeping in their Houston hotel rooms.

Lilly, an All-Star last year, but extremely rockable in 2005, has had his own problems on road trips this year. He's 0 - 4 away from Skydome in 2005 with an 8.86. Eight-Eighty Six. Not too good, is it Chief?

One place where the Astros have the Blue Jays sussed believe it or not is in recent offensive performance. The Astros have had a minmum respectable ingame batting average of over .235 and an ingame OPS over .650 in seven of their last eight games (and we can blame Pedro for the eighth).

On the other hand, Toronto, obviously weary as their road trip continues, have failed to reach an ingame .200 BA in four of their last five, the only exception being Josh Towers' start that turned into a 6 - 4 victory at Wrigley Tuesday.

Back Tonight
MSNBC assumes Wheeler will not be available for the series opener after pitching 2.0 in the 11-inning victory over the Mets and 1.0 the night before, and I think that's probably a warranted opinion. Taveras should be back Friday night, as well, as he tries to take advantage of Barmes' misfortune in the great ROY footrace.

The Astros are of course 0 - 3 interleague this year, having been squashed like a bug in the road portion of the Lone Star series earlier on, and Toronto is 4 - 2, having taken 2 of 3 in Chicago, and having done the same at home vs. their new bitter natural rivals, the Washington Nationals.

Wandy Rodriguez takes the mound at Minute Maid tonight for Houston, and it is to be hoped that given Lilly's shaky performance this year, the Astros can give him some quick offensive support, so he can settle down without having to deal with the stressful horrors brought on by the memory of his last start.

But just in case, take the over. I think it's ten.