Astros Notes: Team searches for offensive solutions
By Larry Wade
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros' clubhouse wasn't a completely somber place following the team's seventh straight defeat.
After becoming the latest member of the Astros pitching staff to be tagged with a loss after delivering a quality start, Roy Oswalt found reason to smile on Friday night.
Oswalt was asked if he had any good news for Astros fans despite the team's seven-game losing streak.
Oswalt paused, searching for an answer. A hearty laugh quickly followed.
"Yeah," said Oswalt. "We've got a lot of games left."
Oswalt isn't the only member of the organization searching for answers these days.
In announcing the team's decision to promote highly touted prospect Hunter Pence to the major leagues, Astros general manager Tim Purpura acknowledged that he was also looking for a few answers.
This season the 24-year-old Pence hit .341, slugged three home runs and drove in 19 runs in 22 games at Triple-A Round Rock. But Purpura emphasized that Pence alone wouldn't be the answer to the team's offensive woes.
"It can't just be Hunter Pence," said Purpura. "We've got to have more production from our lineup than we're getting right now. This is stage 1. Now we have to get some other pieces to get some other players going."
And things haven't been going well lately.
Over the last week, only the Oakland Athletics (.207) and Arizona Diamondbacks (.188) have been more inept at the plate than the Astros (.224). And only the Athletics (16) have scored fewer runs than the Astros' 18.
The Astros' listless offense has knocked them to the bottom of the National League Central Division, where they trail the Milwaukee Brewers by five games.
And even though Pence may not be the answer to the Astros' problems, Oswalt is more than happy to have him on board.
"I think adding Pence is great," said Oswalt. "The good thing about Pence is he's lively; he brings some life to the club. He gets excited out on the field and hopefully, everyone feeds off that. Adding his bat to the lineup is going to add more power and another threat for a home run ball."
The week ahead
The Astros conclude their three-game home series with the Brewers today (1:05). After a scheduled off day on Monday, they will host the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:05 before traveling to St. Louis to play the Cardinals on Friday (7:10), Saturday (12:10) and Sunday (1:15).