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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Astros: Shades of October 

Taken at face value, yesterday's season opening loss to St. Louis might look like a disaster. But I think there's a lot to build on, despite the 7-3 score.

My Opening Day thoughts:

- Ed Montague's strike zone was consistently inconsistent. Both pitchers looked baffled at times, not knowing if and when they'd get the call on the inside corner or at the knees. St. Louis' Chris Carpenter did a better job than Roy Oswalt of dealing with it (though he obviously faced a less potent lineup).

- No one's ever going to accuse Larry Dierker of being a homer. Somebody pour Larry a few Budweisers before this afternoon's game.

- Jim Edmond's three-run homer in the first shows he hasn't lost anything. Roy threw him a good pitch -- low and away (though not as low and away as it could have been) and Edmonds reached out and punched it the other way into the Crawford Boxes.

- Speaking of punch, it would help if Morgan Ensberg brought a little to the cleanup spot. Yeah, the pitches were low, Moberg, but when you have guys in scoring position and you're down four runs, you have to swing the bat.

- Rookie watch: Willy T had a few nice swings, showed a cannon in center, and played with confidence. Luke Scott seemed tentative, but it was his first game in the Bigs, so there's no point in piling on.

- You always wonder what-if when comebacks fall short, but what if AE finds a way to get on base in the bottom of the ninth? Then Bidge comes to the plate as the winning run, and he hit the ball well last night. I can't blame Adam for attacking the first pitch. Isringhausen has a tendency to groove first-pitch fastballs (see: Game Five, 2004 NLCS). AE just didn't connect on it.

- All in all, the guys kept scrapping even when they trailed 7-1, and they put themselves back in position to make a run. That sounds like a typical Astros effort. Until Lance Berkman returns, this team will struggle at times to score runs, and give Chris Carpenter credit for pitching a solid game. There's no shame in losing to the defending league champions. Regroup today and try to make things happen against Jason Marquis.


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