SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 5: Jordan Lyles #41of the Houston Astros pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on June 5, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
The Houston Astros return from the All-Star break with a road series against the San Francisco Giants.
In this weekend's series between the Astros and Giants, both teams are looking to rectify the way they ended the first half of the season. While San Francisco is clearly in a better position than Houston, holding down 2nd place in the NL West with All-Star players who put on a show at the All-Star game earlier in the week, the Giants are still 3-7 in their last 10 games and losers of their previous two.
Both the Stros and Giants have fallen victim to one of the surprise teams of the season in the Pirates this month. San Francisco was swept by the also uprising Washington Nationals before that. But the Giants have some stuff to feel good about this weekend, after the way their players represented in the All-Star game, and also learning that Pablo Sandoval would not be charged with sexual assault, as he was accused of June 1.
And playing at home, against Houston, is just the kind of scenario a struggling but decent team like the Giants long for.
The Astros are still searching for their elusive 10th road win, the one they had seven chances to grab shortly before the break, but failed at every attempt. What the last place Astros can't seem to escape is their inability to produce runs. This isn't a lineup with power or experience.
Not only is the offense struggling, but two of the Stros' best pitchers are on the trading block in Wandy Rodriguez and closer Brett Myers. Manager Brad Mills' days are likely numbered as well, so this is a team with a clue that it has reached the end of the road.
It will be interesting to see the level of focus from Houston for the remainder of season. Do they play for pride? Each other? Anything?
Take a look here at the game schedules and probable pitchers for this series:
Read more on the Astros at The Crawfish Boxes and SB Nation Houston. For the Giants fans' perspective, check out McCovey Chronicles and SB Nation Bay Area. Baseball Nation is your source for news and analysis around Major League Baseball.