Christopher Reina. 12th September, 2008 - 7:21 pm
The Houston Astros have taken the tag off their toe and reentered themselves into the National League Wild Card chase and can block a very good Brewers' team from their second postseason appearance and first since 1982.
They have two separate eight-game winning streaks since August and are currently winners of their past six.
As it has been for the Dodgers in the way they have surged to the top of the NL West, the Astros have been pitching an entirely different ballgame in the second half, particularly in September. As a team, the Astros have a 2.37 ERA in September, and their starters have just a 1.85 ERA yielding 13 earned runs in 63.1 innings.
For the season, Houston's starters have a 4.46 ERA, which is 19th in the MLB.
Roy Oswalt is once again their ace and although he hasn't been as impressively dominant since the break as CC Sabathia or even Brett Myers, he has a 1.94 ERA (he ended the first half with a 4.56 ERA.
But as Tim Lincecum has proven, you can be 13 games over .500 for a team that is 13 games under .500. The Astros haven't played themselves back into the race by Oswalt throwing once ever five days.
Wandy Rodriguez has a 2.95 ERA over his past five starts.
Randy Wolf has a 1.64 ERA over his past three starts.
LaTroy Hawkins still hasn't yielded an earned run since joining the Astros.
Astros fans no longer know how to say Lidge in Spanish, as Jose Valverde hasn't blown a save since July 21st (15 straight saves). When Valverde went home on July 21st after giving up six earned runs, he had a 4.86 ERA, and his ERA has lowered down to 3.49.
Since Carlos Lee had surgery on his broken finger, the Astros are 23-7, but they've received an upsurge in production from other parts of the lineup.
Hunter Pence is batting .420/.453/.740 over his past 13 games.
Ty Wiggington went on a home run barrage before hurting his groin, hitting 12 in August.
Reggie Abercrombie is hitting .529/.556/.706 in 47 September at bats.
They've even gotten lucky relatively lucky on waiver pick up Jose Castillo, who is 7-for-20 with 3 runs scored in September but was completely worthless for the Giants.
Most surprisingly, the Astros have been winning despite a slumping Lance Berkman who is batting .182/.387/.227 in September. Berkman is third in season FIC and will need to swing the bat we saw in April, May, and June for the Astros to get those final three games in the Wild Card.
This team has overachieved throughout the season and especially during this late August, early September stretch. They have given up more runs than they have scored and have a Pythagorean record of 72-75 even though they are just 20-20 in 1-run games.
Beyond their series with the Cubs, which will be played who knows when, they have three in Florida (2-1 in 2008), three at Pittsburgh (6-7) before coming home for three against the Reds (10-2) and three against the Braves (1-2).