The Houston Astros just completed their first series of the 2008 baseball season by going 1-3 against the San Diego Padres. A 1-3 start isn't anything to write home about, and the offense didn't exactly start out the season as I had expected; but there were some positives that came from this series.
Team combined 1.000 fielding percentage. Surprising huh? After having a lackluster spring training fielding wise with Ty Wigginton leading with 9 errors during spring training(39 team combined), the Astros got through the entire series with the Padres without making an error. Not to say that the Astros were perfect in the field(there were a few miscues), but overall, I am thrilled with the way the 'Stros played defense.
Chacon and Backe pitched about as good as can be expected. Backe went 5 innings and gave up 2 runs earning a 3.6 ERA while Chacon went 6 innings today and only gave up 2 runs. Chacon had me scared after the 1st inning today in which he gave up 2 runs, but he turned it around and was very good for the next 5 innings.
Villarreal, Geary and Brocail went a combined 7 innings in relief during the series and only gave up 1 run. If those 3 can continue to pitch well for the entire season, then the Astros could be more of a contender than most think.
Lance Berkman. Not exactly a high average(.250), but he leads the team in RBI's(3, all on 1 swing), stole 2 bases and hit a game winning home run to give the Astros their only win so far. He also has 3 doubles, which is more than he had for the first few months last season. Hopefully Lance will progress and have a much faster start this season than last season.
Astros base-running has been great. 6 stolen bases in 3 games(Bourn 3, Berkman 2, and Wigginton 1) without being caught once. The most surprising of the stolen bases is obviously Wigginton who has only stole 8 bases in the previous 4 years combined. And the best part about it... they are doing it with means. Lance's stolen base last night was one of the main reasons the Astros were able to come back in that game.
The Astros offense has been dismal. The Astros have one of the top 3 or 4 offensive lineups in all of baseball(in my opinion) and maybe in the top 2(behind the Tigers), yet they have only scored 12 runs(and 9 of them in 1 game) during this entire 4 game series. With this lineup, the Astros should be scoring 5+ runs a game on a normal basis. Not one of the Astros regular starters are hitting over .300 with only 3 of them batting over .200. That's pretty sad for a team with so much offensive talent.
1-3 record with no starter getting a win.
Looking at the positives and negatives, you would think that since there are so many more positives, that the Astros would have better record. Well, the Astros big negative is their offense... and it has been the main reason that the Astros haven't won more games. In the three games that the Astros have lost, they've given up a combined 9 runs which averages out to 3 runs per game. I'll take 3 runs per game against every day. A team that averages 3 runs or less given up per game, is a team that wins a ton of games.