Cooper shakes up Astros' lineup
Pence, Berkman move up to give Houston more baserunners
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Cecil Cooper has been looking for a way to impart consistency into his team recently.
He decided Saturday that change was the best way to do it.
The Astros' lineup was dramatically different during Game 2 against the Red Sox, with Hunter Pence batting second and Lance Berkman at No. 3. Carlos Lee also moved up a spot to cleanup, while Miguel Tejada dropped to fifth.
Michael Bourn was still leading off, and the sixth through eighth spots remained the same.
"We're just trying to change things a little bit," Cooper said. "We think it's something that might shake us up a little bit. We're just trying to make a change to see if we can't generate some consistency. We haven't really been as consistent as we need to be."
Cooper said the players in the three, four and five spots are generally interchangeable.
But sometimes, he said, the smallest tweak can ignite a big spark.
He has been considering the change since second baseman Kazuo Matsui, who typically bats second, went on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Cooper moved Berkman (.365, 63 RBIs) from the cleanup spot to try to get another baserunner.
"We're trying to get a little on-base percentage up in there," the manager said. "[Berkman is] the best guy we have for that. When we were rolling pretty good, there were a lot of guys on in front of him, so it made a whole lot of sense to do [have him hitting fourth]. Miggy got hot and started swinging, so we flipped him up there to make sure there were a lot of guys on in front. Now it's a little different; we're kind of struggling. We need to get some guys up there to try and get them on."
Lee, in the cleanup spot for the first time since Game 18 of the season, was hitting .264 with four home runs and eight RBIs in that spot earlier this year. He has a career .292 batting average in the four-spot.
Cooper said Pence's new position is the biggest change, and he said he hopes Tejada (.288, 10 homers) will be able to drive in runs from his new position.
"I've been sleeping on this and kicking it around, I've asked the staff, I've banged my head against the wall in here, I've scratched it -- I've done everything," Cooper jokingly admitted about the decision. "I talked to Tejada, because he was the one moving down. He's good; he's just like, 'Whatever you need to do.'"
Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.