If actor John Houseman were alive today, I'm sure he'd modify his Smith Barney commercials to fit the Houston Astros: "The Houston Astros: they win ballgames the old fashioned way...they EARN them!"
A few weeks ago a reader named Clayton Elkins thought I was being far too pessimistic regarding the Astros' slow start and referenced a Jim Rome quote. Being in a sour mood and not having listened to Romey in a while, I became upset right away. Now, in retrospect, it appears Clayton was on to something.
Going into today's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Astros are now 7-10—having gone 7-2 after their 0-8 start—and could very well sweep the Pirates.
As I watched games earlier this season, I kept weeping, grinding my teeth, appealing to the the baseball gods and wondering why Houston couldn't complement good pitching with good hitting.
Take good pitching (including a good bullpen) and combine it with good hitting.
Throw in a manager whose initials are not C.C. (although I'm certain some will chuckle that Brad Mills' initials are, well, B.M.)
Throw in a dash of smart baserunning and defense, along with a healthy clubhouse chemistry.
Yes, I know some Astros fans out there are no doubt rolling their eyes and telling me the game's far more complicated than that. But is it? Wandy Rodriguez notched his first win of the season against the Pirates last night, and with solid hitting to back him up, he easily could be 3-0 (his 3.65 ERA suggests more hard luck rather than bad pitching).
The same is true for Roy Oswalt, who's 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA.
If Houston's hitters can get things in gear and can become successful against the higher tier teams, I think this team can be successful this year. World Series? I doubt it, but I think the team could have a winning record.
Richard Zowie blogs about the Houston Astros. Post comments here or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .