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Matchup Game # 93 at. Marlins

Taylor Buchholz Scott Olsen
6 - 6, 5.21 6 - 4, 4.24
Had to love Richard Justice's column this morning, wherein he suggests that yesterday's game--and especially the seven hits from Ausmus and Everett--just might be thing that turns this ballclub around.

The positivism is appreciated--especially from the unlikely source--but I'm afraid that after today's game, we'll be making wry little jokes about how they should have saved some for today. More and more I'm beginning to see this year's club as one that is thoroughly average, and more importantly, one that is unable to generate momentum in either direction.

When you think they're headed for the cellar, they'll rip off a four-game win streak. When you think they might challenge the Cardinals, here comes the 4 losses in 5 games that push them back below .500. The teams from 2004 and 2005 were all about momentum, both backward AND forward. This one appears to schizophrenic enough--and average enough--where it is any time spent more than five games above or below .500 that seems anamolous.

It's thoughts like these that keep me from getting too excited about today's follow up to yesterday's trouncing.

But hell, that's just my opinion--I could be wrong.

Also over at the Chronicle, after slinging the mud at Garner last week over the whole Oswalt/All-Star thing, Jose de Jesus Ortiz is now calling for Jim Hickey to be fired, and replaced with of all people, Bert Hooton.

Beyond the anecdotal evidence that no pitching coach in the last ten years has been more disliked by the fan base than Hooton was, the simple empirical facts are that the evidence for the necessity of such a move is scanty at best. Houston is currently sixth in the league in ERA, and even their much- and fairly-maligned bullpen checks in with an earned run average in eight place in a 16-team league.

Just as a matter of philosophy, I am less willing to place blame on a coach when the players who are not performing are veterans who've gotten it done in the past. And I am more willing to give credit to a coach when it is a young player who finds success.

I thus give Hickey some credit for any improvement we've seen in Wandy, and for the successes that Taylor Buchholz and Fernando Nieve have had. And I blame him less than the players themselves for the struggles we've seen Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge, and Chad Qualls endure.

Given last year's staff, I'm pretty that if Bert Hooton had been pitching coach, the Astros still would have finished second leaguewide in ERA. It's much more based on talent than on teaching ability, or whatever.

But you kind of need a reason to make a move, don't you think, Mr. Ortiz?