Offense missing in first two games

Everyone take a deep breath and relax. It’s too early to panic or make any rushes to judgment, but it’s safe to say the 0-2 Astros aren’t off to the start they had hoped for. Getting shut down by Tim Lincecum on Monday is understandable, and it’s not like Barry Zito is some scrub, though his time in San Francisco has been checkered.

And, hey, did you know the Astros started 0-2 against the Giants in 1986 and still won 96 games? Maybe this is how they mapped it out.

If you put on your brick-red colored glasses, you’ll see the Astros have gotten two quality starts by Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez, have played good defense (five double plays in two games) and have seen good work out of the bullpen.

Of course, when you have 13 hits in 67 at-bats, including one hit in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position, you’re in trouble.

“This is not what this team is made of or capable of,” Hunter Pence said.

Astros manager Brad Mills could at least take satisfaction in seeing Rodriguez shake off his terrible spring.

“Wandy kind of answered all our questions,” Mills said. “He came out throwing the ball well. He struggled in the sixth and got behind walking those two guys and we weren’t able to turn the double play [in the sixth], which was key in that inning, but he threw the ball extremely well. We didn’t exactly swing the bats like we would have liked, but at the same time we really saw some positives signs from Wandy and [Jeff Keppinger] offensively did a pretty good job.”

It doesn’t get easier for the Astros. To avoid their 11th 0-3 start in franchise history, they’ll have to beat Matt Cain in Wednesday’s series finale. Cain won 14 games for the Giants last year and ranked among top NL pitchers in complete games, innings pitched and wins.

“The good thing about these first two games is how good our pitching has been,” Pence said. “The bullpen, everyone’s been solid. Wandy and Roy both had great starts, quality starts. We’ve just got to start scoring runs and swing the bats. Maybe it’s a little bit of trying to do too much. Hitting is contagious. We’ve just got to get that first win and then maybe we can relax a little bit.”


Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella is expected to be held out of the starting lineup Wednesday after being struck in the left wrist by a 97 mph fastball in the seventh inning Tuesday. The ball caromed off the wrist and knocked off his batting helmet, but Manzella stayed in the game.

“I just saw the ball coming at my head and I just tried to get out of the way,” he said. “For the first couple of seconds after it happened I had that sick feeling and wasn’t sure. I was kind of in shock a little bit and couldn’t tell how bad it was. [Assistant athletic trainer] Rex [Jones] got out there and moved it around a little bit and it started wearing off. I was able to squeeze his hand and I knew at that point I was going to be alright.”

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