SPORTS ADDICT: Houston’s Astros ready to make 2007 run

by dentonramsey

SPORTS ADDICT: Houston’s Astros ready to make 2007 run

 

By Denton Ramsey / Managing Editor

 

I know it’s only Spring Training, but boy do the Houston Astros look like a darn good ball club.

Newcomer Hunter Pence looks like a veteran in the field, and definitely bats like one.

Our pitching staff, which was a big question mark in the off-season, looks solid as well.

Former Baylor Bear Jason Jennings returns home to play for Houston, and I personally believe he will be a great fit along with Astros ace Roy Oswalt.

Mix that in with bringing home Woody Williams and you’ve got three solid starters in my opinion.

Also, Brandon Backe should be back by mid-season and it looks like our early season fourth starter will be Wandy Rodriguez.

Wandy has shown moments of greatness as an Astros pitcher and thus far in Spring Training, he looks good.

As far as our No. 5 guy, that one is still up in the air.

Closing duties fall back on Brad Lidge, who’s throwing the slider like before the Albert Pujoles outer space homer in 2005.

The rest of the bullpen looks solid as well, and Astros fans will be happy to see Dan Wheeler back in the pen as a solid setup man.

In addition to a solid pitching core, our offense looks stellar as well.

Craig Biggio, Mark Loretta, Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, Morgan Ensberg, Chris Burke, Jason Lane, Adam Everett, Brad Ausmus, Luke Scott, Mike Lamb and Richard Hidalgo all return home for the good guys.

All familiar names and faces to Astros fans and a group of names that can do some damage as well.

They are all a threat to opponents – both with their gloves and with their bats.

I really hope Doggy makes the club – it would be great to bring back a legend like Richard to have both in the outfield and at the plate.

I remember no one ever wanting to even tag up with Doggy out in right field – he’d gun you down in seconds-flat.

However, I digress…

Houston’s Astros look to make a 2007 run to the playoffs, and they look like they have a darn good change of running the cards in the National League Central.

In Spring Training (through 19 games), the Astros are batting .282 as a team with 35 doubles, 8 triples and 21 homeruns.

Lane leads the team in runs batted in (RBI) with 12, Lee is in near-second with 10 RBI and Pence rounds out the top three with 9 RBI.

In addition to his 9 RBI Spring Training performance, Pence leads the team in batting average with a stunning .571 average through 28 at-bats.

Through those 28 appearances at the plate, Pence has racked up 16 hits on four doubles, two triples and two long balls. Pence has also drawn four walks and been hit by a pitch twice.

Lee is also having a remarkable spring, batting .448 through 29 at-bats while Ensberg is batting an amazing .351 through 37 at-bats with three homers.

Orlando Palmeiro is also having a good spring showing, batting .500 through 18 at-bats with nine hits.

Ausmus has also had some awesome outings thus far in Spring Training, batting a hot .333 through nine games and 21 at-bats.

As a team, the Astros have driven in 98 runs through 19 spring games.

On the mound, Roy O looked great in his last outing, going five solid innings before taking a bit of a beating in the top of the sixth.

Granted, Oswalt was forced to sit on the bench for quite a bit of time in the bottom of the fifth inning while his teammates drove in four runs to give the Astros the lead for good.

In Spring Training, Oswalt has a 4.30 ERA with a 1-1 record in four starts and 14.2 innings-pitched. He’s also leading the team with 15 strikeouts.

In nine innings of work, Jennings has a 5.00 ERA with a 1-1 record while teammate Williams has pitched seven innings with a 5.14 ERA and a 0-1 record.

As a team, the Astros own a 4.66 ERA.

Houston begins their 2007 trek towards the title on April 2 at 6:05 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Minute Maid Park as Roy O takes the mound for the Astros.

And I can’t wait ‘til Roy’s first-pitch…

 

Managing Editor Denton Ramsey may be contacted via e-mail at editor@marlindemocrat.com

 

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