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After the Astros have dropped their last seven games and eight of their last nine overall, the Astros finally got back in the win column behind a complete game gem twirled by starter, Brian Moehler. A strong outing by recent rookie call-up, Edwin Maysonet, gave the Astros offense the infusion of life that it sorely needed as the offense pushed six runs across the plate. It would be all that Moehler would need as he would hold the Pirates to 1 run on eight hits through nine well pitched innings. Prior to last night’s matchup with the Pirates, the Astros were one of only four teams throughout baseball that had yet to reach the twenty game plateau. With last night’s win the Astros still remain as a member of that less than elite club, but with Wandy Rodriguez taking the mound today, the Astros are looking to continue their winning ways and finally notch their 20 TH win of the season, and finally begin to start the steady climb out of the NL Central cellar.

Houston Astros hats & merchandise The Astros can blame their recent seven game slide on a number of things, lack of a productive offense, ineffective starting pitching, inconsistency and ineffectiveness of the bullpen and a recent rash of silly errors and sloppy base running. There has also been a rash of hamstring injuries as both Geoff Blum and Kazuo Matsui were both nursing sore legs over the past week, which prompted the call-up of Edwin Maysonet and placing Kaz Matsui on the 15 day DL. The Astros have also activated pitcher, Brandon Backe from the DL and optioned reliever, Wesley Wright, to AAA Round Rock. Wright’s demotion to Round Rock was long coming as Wright has yet to reclaim the dominance that helped to solidify his position in the Astros bullpen. To add further good news, closer, Jose Valverde joined the Astros on the trip and is hoping to finally be ready to come off the DL and reclaim the closer’s role, and maybe, just maybe start to solidify the back end of the bullpen.

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Though the Astros won last night in Pittsburgh, fans have to be disappointed by the severe base running gaffes in the game last night. Pence was thrown out at third as he made a very wide turn around the third base bag, twice the Astros were caught in rundowns, and Tejada was thrown out at second when he attempted to tag-up on a short fly to center. The Pirates outfield is an athletic and speedy one, but the Astros made them look like superstars. The Astros have had serious blunders on the bases this season and if the Astros do not take a serious look at this problem, then they are sure to continue to waste base runners and runs through the season. That is a situation that they can not afford as runs come at a premium for this inconsistent offense.

The Astros will finish this series with the Pirates over the weekend and will send Wandy Rodriguez to the mound Saturday and Mike Hampton on Sunday. They will return home Monday and start a 10 game stand against the Rockies, Pirates and Cubs. These clubs are a combined 64-78 for the season, and if the Astros can continue to pitch well and limit the errors, there is a distinct possibility that they can get back to a .500 record before the middle of June. If the Astros fail to get back into the win column on a more consistent basis the Astros might begin to explore trading off a few of the aging veterans on this team and retooling the farm system for the 2010 season. The June 31 trade deadline is quickly approaching and if Cecil Cooper cannot get this team back into contention, the Astros might become the one stop shop that teams that will begin to look at to pick up a few pieces for their own run to the post season.


By: Jordan Fleck
MLBcenter.com Houston Astros correspondent

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