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News » Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-05-04


Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-05-04


Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-05-04
The Astros hope Lance Berkman will bust out of his slumber in May after having the worst April of his career and hitting only .171 last September. Berkman was at a loss to explain his struggles.

"That's the thing that's so frustrating about it because there's really no formula for getting out of it," said Berkman, who hit .162 with a team-high 22 strikeouts, five home runs and 10 RBIs in April. "And if there were you'd be considered a guru and people would pay you a lot of money to work with their players.

"All you can do is show up and work on the things that you feel like you're doing wrong and watch video, take extra batting practice. Then you show up and you just try to battle and do something positive every day to try to help the team win. That's all you can do."

Berkman's struggles, however, are alarming because everybody knows the club is counting on him and Carlos Lee to carry the offense. Manager Cecil Cooper finally benched the five-time All-Star first baseman for the series finale against the Reds last Wednesday in the club's final game of April.

"Sometimes you're mentally just not ready," Cooper said. "So I just thought it would be a good day to give him a day off."

Berkman finds a bit of comfort knowing this isn't his first or even second poor start to the season. Heck, since 2003, he has gotten off to rough starts in every other year.

In 2003, he hit .208 (15-for-72) with two home runs and four RBIs in April. He hit 23 home runs and 89 RBIs the rest of the way, finishing with a .288 average. After undergoing right knee surgery in November 2004 and not being activated from the disabled list until May 6, he hit .234 with one home run and six RBIs over 77 at-bats in May 2005.

That year he finished with 82 RBIs before carrying the offense all the way to the World Series. In 2007, he hit .253 (21-for-83) with two home runs and 11 RBIs in April. Then he hit .237 (23-for-97) with four home runs at 17 RBIs in May. He finished that season with a .278 average, 34 home runs and 102 RBIs.

"This is the fourth time I've been off to a bad start," he said. "One of those years I was coming back from my knee surgery, so I had a little bit of an excuse."

Berkman hit safely and drove in a run in all three weekend games against Atlanta, going a combined 4-for-13.

ASTROS 7, BRAVES 5: The Astros needed six relievers to complete the final four innings, but they held up a day after Houston used five relievers for eight innings. Geoff Geary earned the victory despite giving up one run in 1 1/3 innings, but situational hitting was key. The Astros had four sacrifice flies and three sacrifice bunts.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 4, 2009

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