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Recap/WPA 59 - 51

WPA scores
"Top" 5 Astros Bottom 4 Astros Top 3 Giants
Score Score Score
Lane 0.017 Everett -0.054 Lowry 0.234
Berkman 0.010 Biggio -0.096 Alfonzo 0.141
Ensberg 0.003 Oswalt -0.186 Vizquel 0.116
Lamb -0.004 Taveras -0.047
Palmeiro -0.007

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Actually, Fox did me a favor on this one: Unable to watch, I didn't pick up the psychic burn from the collective team meltdown, and the stench was safely removed from my household.

I had thought we had a good chance against Lowry: instead he held us to one stinking hit over 7.0.

The two schmendricks doing the Giants game last night kept retiterating how well they thought Schmidt was throwing, but I wasn't all that sure about that. He threw a lot of pitches, went to a bunch of full counts, and didn't seem to have great command. Yet I wasn't arguing with his results--until now.

Coming out of the All-Star break, the Astros immediately lost three straight to the Cardinals, including one by shutout. Certainly an inauspicious way to start the second half, but the way it turned out, the series wasn't as worrisome as it appeared at the time. The first game was an extra innings thriller where each team was pushed to its limits, the shutout loss was to Chris Carpenter, and after all, it was the Cardinals that had done the damage. While what went down in St. Louis that weeekend was not what you were looking for, getting swept in three fairly close games by the undisputed best team in the league wasn't all that bad, was it?

Well, it wasn't if you embark on a 15 - 2 run immediately thereafter.

But now the Astros have had a three game stretch that is their worst since the Cardinals series, and some of the extenuating circumstances then certainly do not apply now. First off, these losses have not been to the Cardinals. The D-Backs before losing the first two to us had gone 9 - 8 since the All-Star break, and the Giants before beating Colorado Thursday had lost four straight.

Before lighting up like a pinball machine against Wandy Rodriguez Thursday, the D-Backs had scored 6 runs total in their previous four home games, and the Giants--who've now held us to two runs over 18 innings to start this series--had given up 29 over their previous six to Milwaukee and Colorado.

The team has now made errors in four consecutive games, and really, there has been a general raggedness on defense since last Sunday's loss to the Mets.

Truth is, it might be the two wins in Arizona that were aberrational. Regardless, most fans of the team know that it wouldn't take a great deal for a slump once it's started to become extended. After all, the team was in a 45-game slump to start the year.

Management, including Tim Purpura on Monday's web chat, have been trying to spin that the club had everything it needed, and as long as the team was on a roll, that might have been true. But with Oswalt in a "dead arm phase" (as the official dot com put it sometime this past week), with Backe still out, and with Wandy Rodriguez coming off his worst start since that nightmare in St. Louis, this team does not have the offensive guns it needs to overcome the early deficits that have been the hallmarks of the last three games.

Roger Clemens can perform a huge service tomorrow by getting us out of Frisco with a win, so we can skedaddle back home to the hugely supportive crowds that help us so much. If we can get back there with a road trip split, there's a good chance we can regroup, and begin to play the um, brand of baseball, that had piloted this team to the top of the Wild Card standings in the first place.