Six wins out of eight on the homestand, so it’s good no matter what happens today. First sign of improvement usually comes at home, but the Astros have been better than I expected on the road this year.
I’m just noticing three shutout innings after a shutout last night. And only one run Sunday. Not good.
This is a comment I made on Tom Tango’s blog, Inside the Book:
"I was happy to see Simmons take on the issue. Two minutes, maybe 2:15 to allow four 30-second commercials, between half-innings seems completely reasonable. If baseball does everything television wants, television will render the game unwatchable.
"It seems to me that it’s very much in baseball’s interest to have a typical game end in less than 2 1/2 hours. Teams hate home games on school nights, which I can understand. Who’s going to take the kids on a school night if you won’t get home before 11?
"What eats the time? Commercials and pitching changes. And Jorge Posada."
Jeff Bagwell has been the hitting coach for 17 games now, and you might have noticed that the Astros are winning more often. They’re also scoring more, including 18 runs last night in St. Louis.
More important to winning is that they’re punching up some runs every night. Scoring 18 in a game is great, but the best record you can get in one game is 1-0. I look at how often a team scores 5 runs or more, which is usually enough to win.
Pre-Bagwell, the Astros scored 5 runs in 30 games out of 89, or 34 percent. Since Bagwell, they’ve managed to do that 11 times in 17 tries, or 65 percent. And they have won 11 times in 17 tries.
It’s too easy to say Bagwell’s the cause. For one thing, the Astros have made some other changes. But it’s a good development no matter who’s responsible.
First things first: Roy Oswalt was a terrific Astro, and Lance Berkman may have been the best Astro. I guess you’d have to put Biggio first and Bagwell second, but I have always liked Berkman and I wish him well.
However, suddenly the Astros are a rebooted franchise with only one obvious millstone — the sad contract of Carlos Lee. I don’t know if they have the parts to make it work, but finally they’ve given up hope that the ’05 Astros can compete in 2010 and beyond.
Even with the $19 million owed to Lee next year and the following, they can manage to put a functional team on the field. So you can move me out of the “hopeless” camp and into the “hopeful” one.