HOUSTON (AP) - Now that Craig Biggio has his three-thousandth
career hit, what's left for the Houston Astros to look forward to.
The unforgettable night when Biggio got his hit will stand as
the season's highlight -- unless the Astros mount a second-half
charge like they have the past three seasons.
And this one will have to be the most miraculous one of all.
Houston hit the All-Star break with a 39-and-50 record and trail
first-place Milwaukee by ten-and-a-half games. Despite winning
seven of eleven games before the break, the Astros are one of only
four National League teams still shy of 40 victories.
At least on the surface, manager Phil Garner is retaining
optimism. After all, he was manager in 2004 and '05, when the
Astros rallied from mediocre first halves to make the playoffs.
Last season, the Astros won ten of their last 12 games to nearly
catch the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the NL Central by a just a
game and a half.
Such a comeback seems very unlikely this time, considering how
inconsistent the Astros have been so far.
All-Star slugger Lance Berkman and the offense sagged early, the
starting rotation has been equally good and bad, and the bullpen
has struggled lately.