The Houston Astros, at 18-26, are now securely in last place in the N.L. Central, courtesy of a sweep by the evil in-state rival Texas Rangers and after losing the first two games in their series with the Cincinnati Reds.
Reds-killer Roy Oswalt, 23-1 lifetime against the guys whose red uniforms no doubt made them a favorite team in the Joseph McCarthy household, came away with a no decision, as the Reds touched him and the Astros bullpen up for a few runs.
Two Texas teams, one called the Texas Rangers (because it has a better ring to it than the Dallas Ewings or Fort Worth Rangers) and the Houston Astros (whose name honors the city's heritage in space exploration) are going in different directions.
Unfortunately for Astros fans, the good guys in the Bayou City are heading toward the cellar, while those in Arlington are getting better.
One has to wonder if the Rangers' sweep of the Astros was because they were mesmerized by the roundhouse-kick pitching delivery of Rangers reliever Cordell Walker.
Before the season, Astros manager Cecil Cooper predicted the team would win 90 games. To accomplish this, they'd have to go 72-46 in the rest of the season. That means they'll have to go from eight games under .500 to 26 over .500.
It would take a torrid hitting and pitching streak to do that, or an executive order from President Barack Obama prohibiting opposing hitters from swinging at any pitches thrown by Astros hurlers.
The Rangers, at 27-18, are atop the A.L. West, have the best record in the American League and have the second-best record in baseball behind Joe Torre's 32-15 L.A. Dodgers.
I must be getting old, but I honestly can't remember the last time the Astros beat the Rangers.
Sunday's 5-0 loss was especially painful, not because the game was played at Minute Maid Park, but just because it shows Houston has a lot of work to do to be a successful team.
Starter Mike Hampton pitched five innings, giving up eight hits, five earned runs, and three home runs. He did get a hit to increase his batting average to .375.
Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy pitched a complete game and earned the shutout, despite giving up nine hits.
Part of Houston's problem was only one of their hits was an extra-base hit—a double by Miguel Tejada. The Rangers, meanwhile, had seven extra-base hits.
Houston's recent struggles remind me of this old joke:
A child is the subject of a custody hearing and is asked by the judge whom they want to live with.
"I don't want to live with my father, because he beats me," the child wailed.
"What about your mother," the judge asked.
"I don't want to live with my mother, because she beats me," the child wailed.
"Well, if your father and mother beat you, whom do you want to live with," the judge asked.
The child replied: "The Houston Astros, since they don't beat anybody!"
On a side note, I understand Houston Astros legend and future Baseball Hall of Famer Craig Biggio will represent Houston in the upcoming baseball draft. I hope Biggio can offer input. He was one of those scrappy players who'd do what it took to win ball games. Maybe he'll find a few players like that in the draft.