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Volume 70, Issue 142, Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sports

Riches to rags: the ugly 2005 Astros

The Sports Nut

Sam Khan Jr.

This has been tough to watch.

When the Houston Astros took that wild ride in the final two months of the 2004 season, going 36-10 to edge out an NL Wild Card berth and eventually coming within a few innings of their first World Series appearance, I never imagined I'd be watching them lose games in 2005 at a rate faster than Japan's Takeru Kobayashi eats hot dogs.

Now don't get me wrong. After the offseason the Astros had (in which they failed to re-sign Carlos Beltran and let Jeff Kent skip town in the meantime, while Lance Berkman was busy tearing up his ACL in a flag football game), I knew the Astros would have a rough time. But with approximately one-third of the season completed, they stand at 18-32 in last place in the NL Central Division. LAST PLACE. This is the same squad that has one of the game's best young pitchers (Roy Oswalt) not to mention the reigning Cy Young Award winner (Roger Clemens), and they can't even play better ball than the Pirates? C'mon.

To say that the Astros offense has been bad would be an understatement. The starting pitchers, as most fans are aware, have done their jobs more often than not, keeping the Astros in ballgames. 

For those fans who've had to put up with teams who perennially lose year in and year out and don't have much of a chance come spring training, I feel for them. I can sympathize with them now. I am understanding how frustrating it is to watch this kind of baseball.

The loss to the Reds on Monday notwithstanding, their play has improved slightly in the last week. But they've had multiple extended losing streaks to this point: three streaks of at least six straight losses, including the season-high seven-game skid that ended on May 24. And we're only through two months.

But with Berkman slowly getting into rhythm, Beltran and Kent gone and Jeff Bagwell hurt, this team has got issues at the plate. I love Craig Biggio, and he's been solid so far this season, but if he's your third hitter and Morgan Ensberg, who had a power outage last year, is your fifth, you've got serious issues.

Let's hope management makes a move or two to improve the current state of the squad. Otherwise, the dog days of summer will be as long as Houston temperatures are high.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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