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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 97 at Mets

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Taylor Buchholz John Maine
6 - 7, 5.31 0 - 3, 4.76

Sorry I'm late.

The Creeping Death has returned to lay me low again. I'd thought the evil pathogen had departed my body, but I guess it was just waiting to return at the most inopportune time.

I left work early (again), and additional rest appears to have helped, but I quite frankly wonder whether I'll be able to get through tonight's game.

Of course, a lot of Houston fans are wondering that these days. The offense--shaky all year--has appeared to have found a new level to descend to. The addition of Aubrey Huff or no, the Astros are 15th of the 16 teams in slugging and OPS this month, 14th in runs scored. and last in average.

A lot of people are like jakechap, declaring that this team's done.

Well, maybe they are. Or maybe they're only a sweep at the hands of the Mets away from being done. But how can you call anything over when Houston is only four games out in the Wild Card? As Atlanta is finding out right now, the league leaders' failure to bury you before gives additional meaning to your hot streak now.

The Cardinals, despite not being all that good, are starting to recede in our viewfinder. But Cincy is still eminently catchable. A bad week by their admittedly revamped bullpen, coupled with a hot streak by Houston, and the Wild Card standings would be turned upside down.

And, better yet, all this optimism of mine can be buttressed by some good news from the pitching department. Since the All-Star break, Houston actually leads the NL in OBP against. In that span of time, Houston's staff also leads in WHIP, and K/9IP. They're second in ERA and batting average against.

I'd say the vibe with the club is poor right now, and so is the offensive performance, but what it comes down to is that the rest of the league kind of sucks this year, and a team with any talent at all, anywhere, has the opportunity to stay in it. In the Astros' case, it may be that the pitching is coming around to the point where the team--as flawed as it is--may just be able to hang around, not because it necessarily deserves to, but more because no-one else is good enough to stop us.

And if you don't like that sunny view of things, ask me again how I feel after the Mets--the one legitimately good team in the National League-- shut us out for 16 straight innings, or whatever it might end up being. . . .

Very late change in the starter for the Mets. Instead of Orlando Hernandez, we'll be seeing John Maine. Wonder what's up with that?