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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Astros: One in the 'W' Column 

Last year Andy Pettite made his much-hyped Astros debut a day after the Stros lost their season opener. It mattered little to the Giants, who made quick work of Pettite to drop Houston to 0-2.

Yesterday AP find himself in a similar situation, but he refused to let history repeat itself. In six innings of work, Pettite worked smart and looked as sharp as a guy coming off arm surgery can look. Through three innings he only threw 25 pitches, and by the time he left after six he had allowed a single run.

That's the AP Houston fans wanted to see.

Speaking of history repeating itself, the Astros slugged their way to 15 hits in AP's debut last year -- all of them singles. For a time yesterday it looked like Houston would once again slap their way to 15 hits in a losing cause.

Willy T's afterburner and Mike Lamb's clutch stick changed all of that. Lamb's pinch-hit triple in the 8th to break open a 1-1 game no doubt resonated among Astros fans, who have watched Lamb's third-base counterpart, Morgan Ensberg, take pitches and punch singles in his first two games.

What can you really take from two games? Not much, except to say that:

a) Biggio looks comfortable at second. The pro-Chris Burke faction will have to pipe down for a while.

b) There's no substitute for speed. Willy Taveras has it. He's not going to collect two hits in every game, but the added dimension that he brings sure can make us all dream about the potential this young man possesses.

c) Mike Lamb is going to make the most of his playing time. At some point I get the feeling that, unless Moberg steps it up, Lamb is going to push him out of the everyday lineup.

d) The bullpen doesn't look like the weak link. No David Weathers, no Mike Gallo, and we have an established closer from the outset. The 'pen doesn't have to be the best in the league, but for a team that needs to take advantage of every opportunity, it's crucial that they hold leads and bide time for the offense.

e) We're still not watching the Astros: Lance Berkman brings a different dynamic to this offense. He adds power and provides protection. Yeah, we all know that, but it's an important thing to remember as we await his return, especially for those that are already looking over the cliff.


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