Still Very Offensive

The Houston Astros made a number of offseason moves designed to improve their ineffective offense, but their performance so far isn't what the team had in mind.

The San Diego Padres, meanwhile, have gotten exactly what they expected from their pitching staff.

Hoping another solid outing from their starter can give them their first 3-0 start since 1984, the Padres send Greg Maddux to the mound as they continue a four-game series against the punchless Astros.

Oddsmakers from have made San Diego -142 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on San Diego -142 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

San Diego (2-0) has gotten strong performances from reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy and All-Star Chris Young in winning the first two games of the series. Peavy allowed only three hits in seven innings of the Padres' 4-0 win on opening day, and Young held Houston to one run in 5 2-3 innings in a 2-1 victory Tuesday night.

Trevor Hoffman closed out Tuesday's victory with his 525th career save.

"You try not to make any particular opportunity greater than others, but the first of the season is always important, the meaning of it," Hoffman said. "The start of the '08 season was very important. Tight ballgame. The team played well tonight. Those are the ones that you want to try and preserve."

That kind of performance has become routine for the Padres, who led the NL with a 3.70 ERA last season.

The team hopes it can get a similar effort from Maddux, who went 14-11 with 4.14 ERA in 34 starts last season. Maddux, who turns 42 on April 14, is 27-15 with a 2.78 ERA lifetime against the Astros, including 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts versus them in 2007.

The right-hander, however, had lost his previous three starts against Houston with a 5.59 ERA in those games.

But this season's Astros (0-2) haven't yet shown that they have the offense to put up that kind of production against Maddux.

They've managed only one run and 10 hits in their first two games, and are in danger of starting 0-3 for the second straight year.

Houston brought in shortstop Miguel Tejada, center fielder Michael Bourn and second baseman Kaz Matsui in the offseason to address its offensive woes after the team finished 13th in the NL in runs (723) and 12th in batting average (.260) in 2007.

Matsui hasn't yet made his debut because he's on the disabled list, and Tejada and Bourn have combined to go a pedestrian 4-for-14 with one extra-base hit.

Houston's holdovers have been even less productive. Lance Berkman is 1-for-7, Carlos Lee is 1-for-8 and Hunter Pence is 2-for-9. Astros manager Cecil Cooper, however, thinks it's way too early to start worrying about his lineup.

"I don't have any doubt about it," Cooper said. "You're not going to see this team struggle a lot."

Cooper will hand the ball to Wandy Rodriguez, who went 9-13 with a 4.58 ERA in 31 starts last season. Rodriguez, though, had some of the NL's most dramatic home-road splits. He was 6-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 15 starts at Minute Maid Park, but just 3-10 with a 6.37 ERA in 16 road starts.

The left-hander faced the Padres once last season, holding them to one run and five hits in seven innings of a 7-1 victory on July 26.

by: Dave Michaels - – Email Us

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