Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 7/4/12
The Pittsburgh Pirates look like one of the best teams in baseball. I guess they should since they are battling for the top of a major league baseball division. The Astros look like... uh, they look like... I can't make myself say it. To be tactful they just don't look very good right now. Nothing goes right for them. If the pitching is good the hitting takes the night off. If the hitting is good the pitching finds a way to stumble. If the starting pitching is good the bullpen isn't. That is how they find themselves with a 32 and 49 record exactly at the half way point of the 2012 season. If they can duplicate that mark in the second half they would finish 64-98 and as bad as that sounds it would still be eight games better than last year. But can they do it? The trend has hardly been inspiring. Since climbing within one game of .500 at 22-23 back on May 25th they have won ten and lost 26. Those numbers are eerily close to the teams overall road record of nine wins and 30 losses. The latter number are almost unfathomable. How can a team that is actually over .500 at home (23-19) be so inept on the road? Ask manager Brad Mills and he has no solid answer. Ask any of the players and they are as mystified as the skipper and fans. For some reason the club just can't put teams away and win when out of town. The first two games in the Pittsburgh series have shown the worst examples. On Monday the Astros were simply crushed in losing 11-2. On Tuesday they had an early 4-0 leadthen 6-2, but saw the Pirates come back in the 7th to take a 7-6 lead on a two run homer by Garrett Jones and win in the last of the ninth on a solo homer by Drew Sutton. Drew Sutton? Yes, the one time Astro farm hand, Drew Sutton. Not only that it was Sutton's only home run in the major leagues this year so far. That sot of thing has absolutely killed the Astros numerous times this year. Lucas Harrell was pitching great until he started getting on base. Twice he tried to sacrifice but his bunts were so good he beat them both out for hits. Then he stayed on base nearly the whole inning and even slid into home plate to score in one of them. That was in the top of the sixth. By the bottom of the inning he was gassed. After the first three hitters in the Pirate sixth singled Harrell was done. Then the "regulators" who lately have been more like "regurgitators" of leads- entered. Fernando Rodriguez gave up a single to score two of Harrell's runs and it was 6-5. In the seventh Brandon Lyon gave up the two run Jones homer and the lead was gone with Pittsburgh now on top. Lyon pitched a scoreless 8th and the Astros tied the game on a two out pinch double by Jason Castro that plated Jed Lowrie who had walked. This occurred off Pirate all star closer Joel Hanrahan and gave Astro fans hope. It didn't last long. In the bottom of the ninth after one out, the Astros third reliever, Wesley Wright saw Sutton hit one over the center field wall and the Astros had lost again. After the game Brad Mills said he and his coaches had tried to buoy the players spirits since there were some positives to point out. But the bottom line can't be ignored. The Astros lost another road game and are getting closer and closer to last place in the NL Central.
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