Archive for the ‘Wilton Lopez’ Category

12/5/12: Astros FINALLY Manage To Dump Wilton Lopez

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Good thing they got rid of that onerous 2 million dollar contract!!!

Wilton is off to the Rockies with a PTBNL!!! and we’re getting really lousy starter Alex White and some A ball guy who isn’t on any of the top prospect lists I can find. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

Alex White, age 24, was the Indians first rounder in 09 and he was traded to the Rox as part of the Ubaldo Jiminez trade. You talk about an ace who just fell offn a cliff along with Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hansen. In 2011, he had a nice 7.01 ERA between Cleveland and Colorado over 38 innings and he had a vast improvement last year. Started 20 games and 3 in relief over 98 IP with a sparkling 5.51 ERA. He boasts a 10.5 hits/9, 1.2 HR/9, 4.7 BB/9 and 5.9 K/9.

He’s thrown a grand total of  84.1 innings at AAA with a 3.20 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.8 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 6.7 K/9.

Looks like The Missing Piece Of The Puzzle to me, hows about all yall? Especially as  I hear tell that Luhnow is trying to dump Bud Norris (arb eligible, what a shock. He’ll make more than 500K.)

I guess Kevin Goldstein must know something that isn’t in the stats.

7/20/11: Astros Win A Series For The First Time In Like Weeks

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I think that this is only like the 4th series that the Astros have won all year and yes I am pulling that number out of my, uh, memory, but I AM sure that we haven’t won a series since beating the Dodgers back in June. No, May – maybe April. It was a long LONG time ago.

What is even more shocking is that pinch hitter Jason Michaels drove in the winning run in the 11th and that the bullpen didn’t cough it up between the 7th and the end. Lopez pitched 2 innings for the W, but he came in to start innings, no men on base – he does better that way.

Yesterday, J Happ, as usual, sukt. It wasn’t entirely his fault as the HP ump squeezed him tightern a boa – the worse a pitcher does, the more he gets squoze by umps, but he got almost no calls at the knees or on the black. Deshaeis said more than once that Happ looked almost nervous or even uncertain up there on the mound – he was, but both times he got the out with MOB, game on the line. He gave up two 2 run homers. Watching Michael Morse, I’m still wondering why Seattle gave up on him.

I particularly remember him because he’s the guy who had a badly injured leg and took off a year and used (all together now – SHUDDER!!) anabolic steroids while not playing, to heal his leg. Fortunately, he had never hit home runs, so people forgot about it quickly. Still took him a couple of years to heal his leg and regain his strength. Good thing he plays for some team don’t nobody important in the media know about or I’m sure they’d be saying how he’s a steroid creation. Or some such nonsense.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Anyway, J Happ-less managed to last 5.1 innings – impressive – he left with a man on first, who stole second and came in to score when Froddy couldn’t get the last 2 outs right off. But he left with the Astros still leading 7-6. Micahel Bourn and Clint Barmes knocked in 6 of those runs, too.

And I guess someone in the media DID ask Millsie-poo why on earth he benched Brettsie against a leftie and he said that Jason Michaelsie was 7 fer 10 against Marquis – the usual small sample size silliness. So he went 1 fer 4 with 3 Ks and left 3 on base.

Mellie came to pitch the 9th – got 2 outs, then had a HBP, then a walk, and FINALLY got the last out.

Hitting? The kewlest was Quintero’s squeeze with 1 out in the 4th with CJ on 3rd – it was a safety and not a suicide – CJ didn’t take off until he saw that the bunt was down right and Q laid a nice one to the first base side of the mound and the throw was too late to get him out. Which let Happ lay down the usual sac bunt. And with runners on second and third, Bourn hit an opposite field double to drive em both in. Maybe we should hit HIM 3rd.

Jose Altuve debuted – had 2 shallow flyouts, 1 flyout to deep center, one swinging K and his first ML hit, a single to right. Lets root root root for the lil GUY!!!

Day off tomorrow, then we’re off to face Big Z and one of our main competetors for Last Place in the majors, the C*bs. They’ve fallen bout as fast and hard as we have. It is, by the way, all Carlos Zambrano’s fault – you disbelieve me, check the fans/media. If he pitched like Pedro 1999 or Roger 1997 then they would have won the Series. Or something. Anyway, Bud Norris faces him Friday night – and Bud better be VERY careful if the wind is blowing out…

7/9/11: Bogusevic Makes Sure Astros Aren’t Shut Out 2 Days In A Row

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Thank you Brian. Apparently you didn’t get the message that the Astros are supposed to be beat to death by Ricky Nolasco – it’s his second CG agains us.

Starting pitching was teh suck tonight, just as it was last night – at least I can give Lyles a lil rope because he’s a 20 year old kid who was brought up because, well, uh, this year the team is so bad he won’t get noticed?

Anyway, it’s a leadoff walk, followed by a SB, a groundout, a HBP, a groundout RBI and a flyout – 20 pitches. Astros bring bats with large holes in em and it’s Johnson-ie who gets the first hit of the night in the second.

John Buck, ex-Stro, hits his 100th career homer in the second. Which was the game winner – yeah, that early. It’s a 1,2,3 3rd, but a 25 pitch 4th. Logan Morrison (he’s a pretty good ballplayer – and a standup guy who is not afraid to speak his mind to the media on the record without going all Bull Durham – but the media doesn’t want anything to do with him because he’s not from NY/Boston) doubles with 1 out, but Stanton Ks, Mike Cameron walks on 4 pitches and Buck grounds out.

5th inning, the ol WB runs into a brick wall – tougher to punch out. So to speak. He does get the pitcher to strike out again, but then Bonifacio singles. Infante hits a tailor made 6-3 GIDP ball right to Barmes, who bobbles it – he hurried his positioning because Bonifacio was already heading into second – and both runners are safe. Then Gaby Sanchez goes to 3-2 and takes the next pitch for a ball. The ump was right and it WAS, in fact, inside. But the ol WB freaks out (he’s had a tough time finding the zone all night and the ump was good – he didn’t miss a pitch for either guy. It was the Astros who missed pitches, throwin em and hittin em.

But I digress…

Where was I? Oh yeah. So there we are – bases loaded, pitcher havin a lil trouble with his concentration – along with his pitching. Hanley Ramirez, who KILLS Astros pitching (lifetime BA is .395 vs Houston) is up and he walks on 7 pitches. Looks to me as if it is time to pull the starter, seeing as how Logan Morrison is up and isn’t having any trouble seeing/timing the pitches. Well, nobody except Nolasco is, but again I digress.

Where is Millsie-poo? Is he gonna leave his pitcher in – who is discombobulated (isn’t that a great word) and has walked 2 guys in a row and had a fit about Ball 4 each time. Is it really necessary to leave Mr. Tough Guy in when he can’t find the strike zone just because he likey his rep as The Guy Who Pitches 6 Innings Every Start? It’s not as if the Astros hitters are hitting the ball well against Nolasco.

So in he stays. And Logan Morrison is cool and collected. Takes 2 pitches off the outside, then a high strike. He fouls off a borderline pitch, then hits a FB right down the middle to the CF gap and all 3 guys score easily.

NOW Millsie-poo comes in to pull Brettsie-poo. But it’s a little too late to do the right thing now.

In comes Wiltonie (or is it Lopezzie) - and I shut my eyes tight because he’s done a terrible job with allowing inherited runners to score, but he gets the first out – a GB right to Johnsonn-ie, so Morrison can’t score, then a 1 pitch out. He comes in for the 6th, gives up a single to Buck, then Nolasco tries to sac-bunt, but dribbles it in front of Q so it’s a 2-6-3 GIDP. Bonifacio flies out.

In the 7th, with 2 out, Carlossie Ks, Wallie grounds out, then Johnsonnie hits a single to left (dude, WHERE has your power gone to?????) and Bogusevic, pinch hitting for Lopezzie, smashes a double to left center and the run scores!!! No shutout for Nolasco.

Enerio Del Rosario (hows about we call him Rosie – yeah, that sounds nice and cute) pitches the 7th – 2 singles, but no runs and Aneury (oh dear, whatEVAH shall we do? He’s already got an ie sounding first name – maybe we should switch to Roddie) pitches a nice 1,2,3 8th.

Nolasco just keeps mowin em down. Astros get 7 hits, 1 walk, 1 run. Pence and Kepp didn’t hit and Clank didn’t hit when there were MOB – just a double in the 8th when it didn’t matter no mo.

Watching this team is painful, the wins sudden glad surprises in a season of horror. Reminds me of that old joke (not a good one exactly) about someone who asks a woman why she stays with a guy who beats her and she says – because it feels so good when it stops (very appropriate, given today’s pitcher, dontcha think?)

Tomorrow afternoon, it’s Wandy vs Chris Volstad, RHP. Chris this year has a 5.46 ERA/1.47 WHIP. Same as Javy Vazquez, for what it’s worth. He threw 2 games against us last year, both times giving up 3 runs over 6 IP. He’s pitched 5 of 7 QS over his last 7 games – getting his head handed to him by Philly in both the games he lost. Otherwise, he was solid. He didn’t get wins because he didn’t get run support. Wandy understands – he faced the Marlins in April, went 7 innings, gave up 1 run and got a ND – he left with the lead and Lopezzie blew his win.

Sound familiar?

It would be nice if Wandy could get this one and we could go out on a more positive note to end the first half.

p.s. – am I wrong about this or did Saint Jeter get about 100 times the amount of coverage of his 3000th hit than Biggio did? I remember Biggio getting like 45 seconds on BBTN unlike Jeter’s 45 minutes…

2011 Astros Bullpen Is Just HORRIBLE

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

I hope all yall had a great 4th of July weekend. We spent the weekend at a family reunion – my mama’s daddy’s family. The kids had a really GREAT time – LOTS of cousins to play with. Lots of junk food to get into that Mami does not let them eat at home. Mami kept sneaking in to check the game – watched the lousy starting pitching and watched hitters squander too many opportunities to drive in runs and gave up after Mills bizarre decision in the 6th with 2 on, no out, to have Corporan sac-bunt and the pitcher swing away. No pinch hitter because Downs was already playing and so was Michaels and I guess you can’t trust CJ. Either that or a certain pitcher wanted to go out and throw 6 innings just to show he could. Then hope that Bourn could drive in runs against a very good lefty pitcher he doesn’t hit well.

sigh

So instead, I was going to write a column about how Mark Melancon shouldn’t intentionally walk batters because it’s been a disaster every time he has. But after looking it up, I realized that he’s only intentionally walked a batter twice – and yeah, both times it led to the losing runs. And actually, the Astros have issued only a total of 25 IBB this year. I thought it was more like a hundred.

I hate intentional walks unless it is to the #8 guy (in front of the pitcher with 2 out) or to some great hitter to get to a lousy hitter (think Barry Lamar/anyone else). It’s sort of like having your cleanup hitter bunt. Yeah, it might could work, but it’s probably not the best idea.

So, let’s take a look at every guy who has relieved for the Astros this year. I’m going to have 4 columns: IBB, runs scored after an IBB whether by that particular reliever or not, # inherited runners and # of inherited runners who he lets score. And I am only counting relief appearances for Aneury Rod and Figgy. Sorry for such a lousy looking chart but I haven’t figured out how to make charts. Really.

NAME………………….. IP ……… IBB….IBBSc…………………..IR……….IRSc

Abad, Fernando…….. 19.2 ……… 0 …….. 0 ………………….. 5 ……….. 2
Carpenter, David ……. 2.1 ……… 0 …….. 0 ………………….. 3 ……….. 0
DelRosario, Enerio … 36.2 ……… 0 …….. 0 …………………. 20 ……… 10
Escalona, Sergio …… 14.1 ……… 1 ……. 0 ………………….. 16 ………….6
Figueroa, Nelson …….. 4 ……….. 0 ……. 0 …………………… 0 ………… 0
Fulchino, Jeff ……….. 27.2 …….. 3 …….. 0,0,2 of 2 ……….. 14 ………..6
Lopez, Wilton ………… 38 ………. 3 ………0,0,1 of 2 ……….. 17………. 10
Lyon, Brandon ……… 13.1 ……… 1 …….. 0 ……………………. 0 ……….. 0
Melancon, Mark ……… 39 ………. 2 …….. 2 ………………….. 10 ………. 2
Rodriguez, Aneury ….. 17 ………. 0 …….. 0 …………………… 3 ……….. 0
Rodriguez, Fernando .. 15.2 ……. 1 …….. 0 …………………… 4 ……….. 1
Valdez, Jose …………….. 14 ………. 1 …….. 3 of 3 + 1 more … 6 ……….. 2

Very Interesting

With Wilton Lopez, 2 of the IBB were to Andre Ethier to pitch to Furcal, who was injured and barely able to swing a bat. The other was to Carlos Pena to pitch to Aramis Ramirez – not sure THAT was the best idea.

With Fulchino, he walked Pujols to pitch to someone else (good idea) and no run scored; he walked Jay Gibbons (lousy) to pitch to Dioner Navarro (lousy) – if he can’t get Jay Gibbons out, well, it’s like not getting Bill Hall out; and then he IBB Chris Young to pitch to a better hitter, Xavier Nady with 2 on – both runners scored, then Escalona let Nady score. I guess it was one of those – he’s hot, he’s not thingys or something.

With Valdez – sigh – don’t even ask.

Looks as if it is not a real too good idea to bring in Wilton Lopez or Del Rosario with runners on. Funny because Lopez was unbelieveable with MOB last year; only 1 of 33 inherited runners scored. It’s too bad we don’t have anyone who can come in and shut it DOWN as Lopez did last year.

You notice that Lyon was never ever called in to shut it down with runners on in the 8th, even though he had done that very successfully last year – 7 IR, none scored.

In case you’re curious about the starters, only the #5 guys haven’t been told to IBB someone – Lyles, Figgy and Aneury. Happ has IBB 2 (like you could tell among all the other zillion walks he gives up), Bud Norris 6, and Wandy and the ol WB 4 each.

By the way,

Astros got swept by the Red Sox – lousy bullpen, lousy hitting with men on base. Also, Astros got kicked by the Pirates who have an almost entirely diffrerent lineup then they did the last time we faced them – only Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones remain. The rest of the lineup is all young guys – from their minor league system. Nothing wrong with young guys, as long as they are any good.

Unlike, say, OUR minor league system, but I digress.

No new news about the Astros sale.

Oh yeah – one last thing. I saw something at the game yesterday I’ve never seen before. I watched the worst team in the major league playing at Pittsburgh, in an afternoon game, and you kinow what? That ballpark was absolutely PACKED and there were so many people there that they had folks standing on the walkways and watching. Yes, PACKED. At Pittsburgh – and not for the (swear word) Yanks/Red Sox neither. 

See what happens when you put a decent team on the field and fans have a good reason to hope that the team is gonna get a LOT better thins year and every year afterwards?

Fans go to the ballpark.

Imagine that…

5/28/11: Quintero Hurt In Home Plate Collision as Astros Lose To Dbax

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Just the other day, a Young Handsome Star Catcher was badly injured in a collision at home plate. Buster Posey was blocking the plate, waiting to receive a throw and the runner coming home barreled into him to push him off the plate. Unfortunately, Posey was balanced in such a way that he couldn’t move nimbly enough and he landed awkwardly on his ankle and it broke. It wasn’t in any way a dirty play or a bush move. Home plate collisions happen ALL the time, in spite of the fact that the rule book is quite clear about fielders not being allowed to block any base.

I want to point out, right now, that Brad Ausmus, no fire plug, was VERY good at tagging out runners without putting his body in the runner’s way such that a runner had to act like a football tackle.

I also want to point out that players AND fans, for the most part, have NO problem with the violation of the Rule Book which explicitly states that fielders may NOT block the base. You never see first basemen standing in front ot the bag – and imagine trying to push Prince Fielder out of the way to reach the base. Anyway, even GRRRRRLS playing baseball were into the dramatic home plate collision stuff – remember Kit and Dottie in the movie (guess it wasn’t exciting enough watching females have to slide with bruised bare legs)…

Anyway, the Astros were leading 6-0 in the 5th when “Astros Ace” walked a man, then threw a high outside FB to some AAA guy, who promptly deposited it in the RF bleachers. And 6-2 in the 6th when aforementioned ace walked a guy then threw a high outside FB TO THE SAME GUY WHO HIT IT OUT THE INNING BEFORE. And then it was 6-4.

And in the 7th, Wilton Lopez, made a crappy throw home and the runner from 3rd hit Q, who was blocking the plate – runners scored, Q on DL, Robinson Cancel called up from AAA.

ADDENDUM:

I thought this post posted fine until I noticed it didn’t and that most fo the post was missing – sorry. computer is having trouble – just like Bud Norris tonight – balking home a run – grooving a FB to the pitcher for a 3 run homer. Just like Bill Hall make another error (bobbbled the throw from Towles which would have caught Stephen Drew stealing – and maybe all those other runs wouldn’t have scored and youneverknow…

But that was the absolute best I have seen Zach Duke pitch in like 3 years – I thought he was gonna throw a nono.

Wandy got put on the DL with elbow problems (ohmi GAWD) and so phenom Jordan Lyles was called up ahead of the Super 2 deadline. Over the last 7 games, he thrown at least 6 innings and has had only 1 bad game in which he gave up 5 runs. In 3 of those starts, he gave up no runs, in 1 he gave up 1 run and in the other 2 he gave up 2 runs. In any case, he’s sure to get us SOME media – maybe an extra 5 seconds on BBTN, youneverknow.

It’s J Happ tomorrow, and I’m not holding my breath…

By the way – posts will be sporadic for a few days – comp[uter trouble

5/22/11: This Time, Interleague Play Is NOT For The Birds

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I’ve been so, well, Up Set about the thought of Jim Crane and his debt ridden buddies decimating my baseball team – yeah, I knw it’s hard to think of this Organization getting worse – that I have hardly wanted to think about it and just needed to chill a bit, seeing how my life would be with no baseball – well, that is, no MLB in it (because me n the kidz and Dogss DID go out and play Gray-style baseball a bit). Didn’t work real too good – in spite of hating interleague, I did check the scores a couple of times Fri and Sat and NO, I didn’t listen to Senile Hamilton, now tied with Hawk Harrelson and the Marlins guys for worst announcers in MLB. Does it matter if the announcers suck if the team does too?

Anyway, I STILL luuuuvvv me some Wandy and I checked during the 6th inning just in time to see him give up his second solo homer – man, those Grackles sure hit a lot of homers, don’t they – and finish the inning, leading 3-2. Last couple of times he’s left with a lead, he’s had nothing to show for it, but even though he was only at 90 pitches, he wasn’t sent out to start the 7th – Wilton Lopez pitched 1.1 innings and Melancon had a 1.2 inning save – left with bases loaded. Wandy must have had himself some SERIOUS blood pressure fer SHER there. I know I sure nuff did.

Of  note – are you ready for this? The bullpen did NOT suck for ONCE, well, actually, for THRICE – pitched 7 scoreless innings over 3 games, plus an inning in which Jose Valdez gave up a homer with the Astros already losing (the ol WB reverting to his normal lifelong suckage performance).

Anery Rodriguez managed to give up only 2 ER over 5 IP – he didn’t get freaked or flustered by umps/opposing players/his own team flubbing easy outs/his manager leaving him in to get stomped.

Wandy threw 6 innings, giving up 3 walks, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 2 singles and 6 K. Not his best performance, but still excellent.

Mills is continuing to bench Brett Wallace against leftys. Clank flashed great leather as the DH. Bill Hall was benched for 2 games in favor of Angel Sanchez, who went 3 fer 8 with an RBI, a walk and a run scored. He fielded just fine.

Barmes continues to uck-say with the bat as badly as Hall does, but he doesn’t have another ML SS waiting as Hall does with Sanchez. And NO, Keppinger is absolutely positively NOT a SS – and yes, he’s hitting fine at AAA. Gonna be VERY interesting to see what happens when Kepp (and Bourgeois) ready to come offn the DL. Now we KNOW that Bogusevic will have to go down to keep Jason Michaels – after all, look who is earning more money. Infielders are Barmes, Sanchez, Hall, Downs, Wallace and CJ. Downs is hitting. Sanchez is hitting (and has no options) and CJ has started hitting again and is fielding VERY well. Barmes + Hall = 9 mill. Barmes line is .211/.325/.324/.649 over 71 AB with 1 HR and 4 RBI (so much for the Tulowitski-like production) and Hall’s line is .221/.275/.336/.611 over 131 AB with 2 triples, 2 HR and 13 RBIs (so much for Jeff Kent-like production). Downs, in case all yall curious, is hitting .269/.339/.538/.877 over 52 AB with 11 RBI.

Chris Johnson had himself a great weekend, going 5 fer 10 with 5 RBIs and 1 run – including the game winning homer Friday night. Did great with the glove, too. Hopefully, now that his BA is back up to his weight, he’ll start gaining – although he still doesn’t walk near as much as he should – swings at too much stuff out of the zone.

JR Towles is in a terrible hitless streak – now at ofer 32 (last 7 games) which started when they put him in the 2-hole. Funny that the exact same thing happened with Brad Ausmus back in 05 – he was hitting over 300 with a bunch of walks and the rest of the team was, uh, not hitting and Phil Garner put him in the 2-hole and he went ofer 40. Weird. Fortunately for JR, Wandy likes him and there is no one killing the ball at AAA.

Michael Bourn went 5 fer 12 with 3 walks with an RBI and 3 runs. He’s been on base in every game he’s played except for 4. Pretty darn good for a leadoff hitter.

Hitter Pence had a great series, going 6 fer 14 with the game winning homer tonight (Wandy owes him a cold beveraege of choice)  with 4 RBIs and 3 runs scored.

Clank went 3 fer 13 with 2 runs. And a stolen base (the usual Clank kind where they don’t notice him because he’s so fat…)

Yall notice that there was a whole lotta hittin goin on. There was also a whole lotta leavin RISP goin on, too (Towles, I’m lookin at YEW): tonight, it was 1/12; Sat it was 4/11;  Fri, it was 2 fer 9.

Brett Wallace went 4 fer 5 with 2 RBIs. And he’s getting benched all the time with lefties because – WHY?

Bogusevic went 1 fer 9 and didn’t make what turned out to be a crucial catch on Sat – not that the game wasn’t already lost, but it just might could stick in the minds of certain GMs.

And it’s the Dodgers in town – tomorrow, it’s Bud Norris vs Clayton Kershaw.

Bud has faced LA twice – 2 GS over 10 IP: 10 H, 8R/7 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 10 K: 6.10 ERA/1.65 WHIP. Bud has been great at home this year – 5 GS over 33 IP with a 2.18 ERA/1.05 WHIP – so be it and shall it remain.

Kershaw is a lefty, so expect poor ol Brett to be benched. Anyway, he’s thrown 3 games over 17 IP vs Houston; 16 H, 9 ER, 1 HR, 5 BB, 12 K; 4.76 ERA/ 1.24 WHIP/.258 BAA.

Matt Kemp is still killing the ball, so Bud had best not “challenge” him….

4/9/11:A-BAD Is Just That And Bullpen Loses AGAIN

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Remember that Star Trek episode (original series) there are these 2 guys who look identical but one is from the positive energy universe and the other is his polar opposite from the negative energy universe? Well, whenever I watch Bud Norris pitch, I always think of that because he’s either freaking unhittable or he can’t find the plate/walks/down the middle getting slammed. I mean, he doesn’t get singled to death like Nelson Figueroa.

Youneverknow – either ace or waste.

sigh

Today is #2 day of Astros Fan Fest (for the remaining 20,000 Astros fans left) and I had wanted to head down early , but it didn’t quiiiite work out like that because #2 Son informed his brothers that Him and Mami was gonna go to the baseball game and theyyyyyyyyy wassssnnnn’t, ha ha ha HA HAAAAAAAAAAAA and #1 Son who had loftily informed me earlier that the Astros uck-say and baseball is dumb and the Rockets ROOL had an abrupt change in attitude and next thing I know, Da Bull (#3 Son) who had 1 minute earlier been jumping to go over to see his cousins (he likes to HIT baseballs, not WATCH baseball – think Manny Ramirez without the drugs) started crying because he wanted to go toooooooooooo. So between explaining/promising each son His Own Day with Mami at the Ballpark and FINALLY getting out the door then having a tough time finding parking because of the Rockets game going on too, we managed to get to our seats in time to see the We Are Your Astros video on the New Screen.

We saw lots of Berkman jerseys, more than a few Pettitte/Clemens t-shirts/jerseys, Pence jerseys, a few Backe t-shirts/jerseys, Bourn t-shirts/jerseys, but no Wandy shirts/jerseys (and no, there aren’t any in the main store again. Still haven’t seen any Myers t-shirts/jerseys, in spite of the team’s constant effort to pimp him. Anyway, the video showed a lot of Keppinger (strangely enough) as well as a LOT of Pence and Bourn and the ol WB – hardly any Wandy.

The roof, to my surprise, was closed and Husband would have been MORE than happy to be here tonight – it was absolutely freezing – first time I can remember Drayton actually turning the AC below 80 degrees. When Norris threw the first pitch, there were maybe 15-18K people in the seats. Maybe. And Bud’s first pitch was in there for a strike – he threw 12 pitches, 10 strikes for 3 outs and looked ace deluxe. The Astros took a 1 run lead in the bottom of the inning when Sanchez doubled just inside the LF line, then Pence hit a bomb to the LF bullpen for a RBI double. Clank grounded out to short – an easy out, but again, he RAN HARD. Yes, I really AM talking about Carlos Lee – you’d think this was a contract year, or something – but whatever, he is giving it everything he’s got on every play and every grounder, something I’ve never seen him do in EVERY game.

Second inning, Bud comes back out – only it’s the Bud from The Alternate Opposite Universe and he throws 8 straight pitches way outside the strike zone. #2 Son asks me – what’s wrong? and I have absolutely NO idea, but apparently Arnsberg does, and he trots out and has a long conversation with Bud and the rest of the team, and sure enough, next pitch is strike 1 to lefty Greg Dobbs who, naturally, was taking all the way. He fouls off 4 pitches before singling to right to load the bases as Pence hold the runner on 3rd with an accurate throw to the cutoff man. He goes to 3-2 on catcher John Buck (yes, the same guy who was the Astros AAA catcher traded for Carlos the jackal back in June 04) then gets him swinging. He gets Donnie Murphy, the utility guy playing short for the injured Hanley Ramirez, to groundout to Wallace, who bobbles the ball, but recovers in time to get the out at first – but the runner scores. Not sure if he could have gotten Stanton out at home had he fielded the ball cleanly as Stanton is fast, big as he is (and oh yeah, the brotha is FINE, in case all yall curious – waaaay too tall, but FINE just the same…)

Javier Vasquez (freed from the living he!! that was attempting to pitch for the Yankees) grounds out to end the 26 pitch inning and the score is tied and how Bud managed to get himself back together, or even why on earth he couldn’t get a pitch near the plate to start off I have NO idea, but I have a feeling he drives Mills/Arnsberg as crazy as he does us fans.

Bottom of the second, CJ grounds out – he’s been in a hitting/fielding slump this series, then Bill Hall, doing a LOT better in the 7-hole, smashes a hanging curve 400+ feet onto the Hill for a double. He HAS hit a lot of balls HARD which haven’t fallen in – when he wasn’t striking out, and sooner or later, some were bound to evade the outfielders. JR Towles, catching Bud Kd after going to a 3-2 count, and Bud decided to Do Something and hit a double to left, driving in Hall. Bud runs faster than Sanchez, Wallace or Carlos. Bourn draws a 3-2 walk, then Sanchez drives in Bud with a single up the middle. Pence grounds out.

End of the second, it’s already 1 hour gone. Little boy looks longingly at cotton candy guy, knows better than to say something. I kind of feel bad, but know if I get him that, I will be dribbling kid down the hall/off the walls for the rest of the night.

Astros 3 Marlins 1 Mamiguilt 1

3rd inning – Positive Bud is back except for a Logan Morrison double off the scoreboard. Astros go 1,2,3 and CJ is unfairly called out on an inside FB on a 3-2 count. When things are going bad, the ump won’t give you nothin.

4th inning – Ace Bud gets 3 outs on 7 pitches – popup to Towles and 2 groundouts to Sanchez. Little boy has been staring at the people in front of us, eating fried greasy something. I give in and buy him a hamburger – there’s almost nobody in line – we get it, pay for it, he picks it up, bites into it and says, surprised, Mami, it’s cold. I go back, ask if they can heat it up, server glares at me, pretends not to hear, and I again ask politely if they can maybe microwave it, heat it up – it’s not like we’re holding up some line. She says that they don’t have a microwave. I ask her if we can please have a hot one/fresh one – she says no. What a waste of money – I’m never doing that again. And I mean NEVER buying ballpark food.

Anyway, we miss the Astros going 1,2,3 and get back barely in time to see Bud go through the top of the 5th 1,2,3 with 12 pitches.

Bottom of the 5th, Bourn beats out an IF hit to short, Sanchez walks, Pence hits a single to right and Bourn scores easily standing – I mean, nobody was gonna throw him out – and I mean nobody. Carlos flies out to center, then Wallace grounds out to second and is called out at first – and he sure looked safe to me and to everyone else at the ballpark. LOUD boos. And actually – this was a very significant thing – but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Top of the 6th – Bud’s at 76 pitches and is cruising with a 3 run lead. I see guys getting loose in the bullpen – as I said – Wallace getting called out at first was NOT good -  with THIS team, we need like 10 insurance runs, and the way Bud was going, I didn’t want him pulled for one of out absolutely useless pinch hitters, as Wandy was. And Bud starts off fine, getting a quick groundout. Then trouble starts. Bud throws 2 pitches way outside, then throws a good FB midplate and Morrison hits a single to right. Then Bud goes to 1-2 on Stanton, then throws 2 pitches way outside, and I think – oh nooooooo, either ball 4 or a good pitch to hit and sure enough – nice meaty 84 MPH hanging slider/changeup smackdab in the middle of the plate and Stanton sends it a GOOD 425′ onto the middle of the Hill (why was Michael playing so shallow for a power hitter?) where it goes for a RBI double.

I’m having that feeling that Negative Universe Bud has showed back up – this is NOT good, by the way and even though Gaby Sanchez gets himself out on a pitch up and in, Greg Dobbs is up and I have that BAD feeling. ESPECIALLY when Bud throws 2 good pitches both painting the black and getting called balls and I KNOW he’s gonna try to catch more of the plate and sure nuff, that is exactly what happens and the ball sails into the RF bullpen and the score is tied.

#2 Son looks at me, says, did we just lose? and I say, I think so. Next pitch is a good one – FB on the low outside corner, but Buck catches almost all of it and golfs it to the wall in right, where Pence just gets it.

I was already worried about holding a THREE run lead and now with a tie game and 3 innings to go, I have no confidence whatsoever in this crappy bullpen, that we will come back.

Bottom of the 6th, CJ flies out to deep right, Hall Ks, JR singles and pinch hitter Inglett stays ofer and strands him. Inglett and Michaels are still ofer, Downs has 1 hit and Bourgeois has 1 pinch hit (of 2 PH opportunities). We might as well leave the pitcher in – at least HE can hit.

Top of the 7th, in comes Fernando Abad. This REALLY surprises me, as he hasn’t pitched well AND he’s going to face a righty, then certainly a righty pinch hitter. I can’t believe that Mills is thinking about using him for more than 1 inning, seeing as how he’s had trouble with the few he has already pitched, both in ST and the regular season, but youneverknow. He gets Murphy out, then sure enough, gives up a double to righty PH Wes Helms, another double to lefty Coughlin – one of the Biggio special to the LF corner kinds, then an enormous double to the LF bullpen to righty Infante (and no one goes to the mound to settle him – not JR, not Arnsberg) then he throws 3 straight balls to Morrison, who swings at Ball 4 and pops up.

 #2 Son asks me repeatedly why the manager doesn’t get him because he can’t get anyone out and now we’re going to lose. He’s asking ME????

NOW, after 2 runs are in, Mills pulls him for Wilton Lopez, who gets Stanton swinging. #2 son asks why the manager didn’t just put him in in the first place. I tell #2 Son – well, that’s what he did last night and Lopez did last night what Abad just did tonight. Silence. Then – how come they do that? He’s asking ME??????????

Maybe Lopez should be the guy who comes in to rescue pitchers with MOB, as he is good at that and lousy at 8th inning work and everyone else is terrible at stranding runners.

Marlins 6, Astros 4.

7th Inning Stretch – yeah, I took him out to the Ballpark, and with THIS team, I’m beginning to not care if I ever come back. And the stars tonight are dim and dull, deep in the hearrrrrt of Tejas….

Bourn, Sanchez and Pence go 1,2,3.

In comes Enerio Del Rosario to start the 8th. Gaby Sanchez shatters his bat – shards go flying everywhere and the ball heads to third where CJ picks it up, eyes still on flying shards, and drops the ball and Sanchez reaches. When it rains, it pours. Dobbs comes up (the home run guy, as my kid says) and smashes another pitch, this time to the LF bullpen where it goes for an RBI double – yeah, unearned, but a run is a run. He gets Buck and Murphy out on 3 pitches, then pinch hitter Cousins sends a long fly ball back to the LF bullpen, and Carlos runs HARD and HE CATCHES THE BALL!!! #2 son asks, incredulously, if that is still Carlos Lee (even HE knows all about El Perezoso – the sloth) and by GAWD, it was. I swear, he ran hard to every fly ball, ran hard to first every single time. And he has lost a GOOD 20 lbs since he showed up at ST with a spare tire.

Really. Honest!!!

In comes Clay Hensley, Houston boy. We picked him up as a 6 year minor league FA in 09, put him in AAA where he threw 10 terrible innings. We released him, the Marlins picked him up and he threw 119 excellent innings for THEIR AAA club. Doesn’t say real too much for our piching insitruction/evaluation, does it? And he threw 75 innings of 2.16 ERA ball for the Marlins last year. Peachy.

But he gives up a double to Carlos, which he hits to the LF bullpen and he runs HARD, out of the box and glides into second. yes, Carlos. Brett Wallace hits a single and Carlos is off with the crack of the bat, running HARD, rounding third and miraculously beats the throw which fortunately was offline because Carlos doesn’t slide and he would not have beaten a good throw – not that it ended up mattering, but I’m getting ahead again. CJ strikes out, Hall pops up and JR lines out hard to second.

Marlins 7 Astros 5

Top of the 9th, Del Rosario mopping up – Coughlin grounds out, then Infante singles to left, Carlos picks up the ball and throws him out at second!!! Not that Carlos can throw hard, but he got to the ball as fast as he could and released the ball as soon as he could and threw as hard as he could and this time, he got out a guy who kind of dogged it out of the box, thinking – hey, why run fast with Clank out there? Morrison grounded out.

Bottom of the 9th – Leo Nunez in for the save again. Jason Bourgeois gets a pinch hit infield single, Bourn Ks, Sanchez hits a grounder to short and Bourgeois breaks up the DP!!! but Pence grounds out to end it.

So CJ’s error didn’t end up mattering to the game, but I sure hope it doesn’t do a number on his confidence because we need the boy to pick it up.

Out of the ballpark, out to the car BEFORE people start leaving the Toyota Center, so traffic  isn’t bad at all.

Tomorrow is J Happ. And the last day of fan fest, highlighted by Milo Senile Hamilton reading stories to kids in Union Station.

Big Deal…

And I suppose I should be comforted by the fact that the Red Sox and Rays also only have 1 win each, but I’m not. Nor by the fact that the Braves bullpen imploded today. Nor by the fact that the Cards only have one more win than we do. But I’m not.

This is by FAR the worst bullpen we’ve had since 04 – and they look like The Nasty Boys in comparison to this one.

At least we haven’t been shut out – and the Rangers have…

(Home) Opening Day 2011: In Which Wilton Lopez Throws Wandy’s Win In The Garbage

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

I hate it when the real Opening Day doesn’t start at home. Especially when the team is lousy and losing – tough to get any real excitement going.

But it is always special to me because I always go with my Mama – the one time I get my Mama all to my own self – and I think that for most of us, when it comes to our Mamas, we will always be her little kid and we remember how it was when we were little and she was wonderful and mysterious and when she gave you all her attention, it was somehow magical. Not that us mamis (now that I am one) ever really stop seeing our children as our kids and remembering how it was when they were little and they were so happy to be with you and snuggled up and you really felt that you were impossibly happy.

So as all yall who have been reading this here blog for the 7, going on 8 years that I have been writing it (could it REALLY be that long) know, Mama and I spend at least the afternoon together – going to a late lunch, then going to street fest/fan fest, then ambling into the game when gates open, just feeling the fabulousness that is the Cathedral in the Church of Baseball, staring at that impossibly green green grass (or Astroturf, as it was BITGOD).

Of course, it was Wandy, my fave, pitching the game, so I had a bit more enthusiasm that other wise, especially because he pitches so well in the Box. But you know, we seemed to be in no hurry to finish our late lunch and get downtown - talked about the Dome and how it was BITGOD, how Things Have Changed, how long it would be before the Astros would outperform the Pirates – and somehow, we didn’t get on down until a little after 5 – plenty of parking (yeah, you have to feed the meter) and there was absolutely NO electricity in the air – just resignation. Lots of Astros gear in sight, no Marlins jerseys – not surprised, really – their owner has done his best for YEARS to make sure his team has as few fans as possible.

No long lines of folks waiting to get in, no one asking if you have any extra tickets to sell. No Wandy shirts/jerseys in sight neither. No respect for the lil guy at all.

I missed the buzz, the excitement that was in the Box only a few short years back. We went up to Mama’s friend’s expensive seats and I got out my scorebook. We honored our soldiers, some girl butchered the National Anthem, then after a few minutes, Wandy threw the first pitch. Scoreboard operators didn’t post speeds or the correct pitch most of the time, but I could see that he was hitting his spots.

First inning, Coughlin flies out and Clank catches the ball against the scoreboard – I THINK he does, only because Coughlin isn’t at second. But there is a lot of on field excitement as the trainer trots out, teammates trot out and gather round, and finally Carlos emerges from the huddle and we play ball. Not sure what that was all about, but what I do know is that he actually RAN to make the catch and got it. He looks as if he’s trying, which is more than I saw him do all last year. Wandy gets the next 2 outs with 4 pitches.

We’re up – Bourn (guess his groin is feeling OK) and Sanchez groundout, then Pence hits a LONG flyball which hits juuust below the yellow line under the Conoco Boxes in LF and he’s on second with a double. But Clank grounds out to first – and you know what? He ran HARD to first – meaning as fast as he could, trying to beat it out. I’ll give him that – I mean, he wouldn’t have beat it out if he had Bourn’s speed, but he made like Biggio. I was impressed – really. I mean, baseball is a game of failure, how well I understand, but I appreciate effort instead of the – like, whatever – attitude Carlos appeared to have for the past 2 years.

Second inning, Gaby Sanchez hit a bullet almost past a diving CJ, who managed to grab it to prevent it from going into left. But instead of holding onto the ball and realizing there was no way he was going to throw out Sanchez at that point, he tried, and naturally overthrew the ball. Maybe Rolen could have made that play. Maybe, but I doubt it. And CJ’s errors usually come at times like this when he should hold onto the ball or set his feet more carefully. The next hitter grounded Sanchez to 3rd, then Wandy hit the next guy, so we had men on first and third, 1 out. Then the next hitter, Bonifacio, tried to bunt, but popped it to Wallace, who threw it to CJ to double off Sanchez. I LOVE those kewl LODPs.

Wallace led off the bottom of the second with a single to RF, but overran the bag and was tagged out when Bonifacio threw a bullet to Gaby Sanchez to pick him off. Wallace is too slow a runner to go rounding first like that. He’s Quintero slow, meaning slower than Clank, if you can believe it. I mean, running bases. He’s got lightning quick reactions when fielding. Then CJ struck out and Hall grounded out. (He’d better pick it up because he sure as heck isn’t hitting for all that power Fast Eddie thought he was getting.)

In the 3rd, Wandy mowed em down 1,2,3 with 11 pitches. The guy sitting behind us informed his woman  that Wandy is a pitch to contact pitcher, a finess guy and not a strikeout guy because he only hits 90 with his FB. Mama and I looked at each other, rolled eyes. JR Towles led off the bottom of the 3rd with a line derive homer into the Crawford Boxes, probably around 350′ – not sure because they didn’t post it on the scoreboard, which, by the way, they spent a good 3-4 minutes on pimpage after the Anthem and before the second first pitch. They’re calling the scoreboard “El Grande” – roll eyes again – but I am calling it El Useless as the operators can’t be bothered to post difficult scoring decisions such as passed ball vs wild pitch, or distance of home runs, or anything else besides the lineups and current player’s standard stats (still no walks, no OBP). Anyway, Nolasco then got out Wandy, Bourn and Sanchez.

Astros 1 marlins 0

Hey, a lead is a great thing to have. Even 1 run. So Wandy doesn’t have much of a cushion to work with. Shades of last year, hunh Roy-O?

In the 4th, Wandy gives up a single to center, 2 shallow FO to center, then a bloop popup which falls inside the LF line, and Clank, Sanchez and CJ can’t get to it in time to catch it, but Clank scoops it and throws to second to prevent a double. Heads up again. I can’t think what has gotten into the guy, or why he seems to have a change in effort, but I’m ALL for it. Anyway, next hitter flies out.

Bottom of the 4th, Pence grounds out on the 8th pitch – he made the pitcher throw LOTS of pitches to him every AB after his first one, then Carlos appears to beat out an IF grounder which the catcher fields and overthrows to first and Carlos goes to second. But he is called out – lots of boooos – and no explanation on the scoreboard. Did he run out of the baseline? DID he interfere with the catcher or the first baseman? Some reason to keep this secret from the fans? Then Wallace fields out to end the inning.

Four innings complete in 50 minutes.

5th inning, Wandy gets  K, then gives up a LONG fly ball, a GOOD 400′ onto the Hill which Michael can’t get to – maybe his groin is hurting? – the first hard hit ball Wandy has given up – would have most likely been a homer in many other parks – just a long double here. But then he gets 2 quick groundouts, and Sanchez makes a VERY good play on one of em. He looked like a real SS out there today.  Bottom of the 9th, Towles gets an IF single to short, but is stranded although Wandy made a valiant effort and sent a long fly ball to left center.

6th inning, Wandy gets 2 grounders to short and again, Sanchez makes a GOOD play – and it was a difficult scoop n throw with a relatively fast runner. Then he gives up a couple of groundball singles, then gets a grounder to Hall, who throws to Wandy covering first for the last out. Wandy is a very good fielding pitcher. Stros go 1,2,3.

7th inning – Wandy gets a groundout, then goes to 3-1 on Hayes, the catcher – his first 3 ball count of the night. Hayes is the guy who smashed a double onto the Hill his last AB and sure nuff, he smashes another off the scoreboard. Nolasco, the pitcher, singles him to third – interesting that not once, when he came to bat with less than 2 outs and a runner on, did he bunt. He always swung away. Anyway, Coughlin drives in Hayes with a groundout FC, then makes the last out when he is caught stealing – JR nails him with an absolutely perfect throw.

Stros 1 Marlins 1 – poor Wandy

And it’s the stretch and some country singer with a git-tar sings GBA (? on a Friday now too????) and then it’s take me out to the Ballgame – when I remember that I am blessed to be able to see major league baseball in the city I live in – remembering that so many people have no team and have no broadcast available to them (because of the dumbass blackouts and not having the $$ for directtv/ability to get it in their apt/condo). And the stars at night, are big and bright, unfortunately up in Dallas these days….

Bottom of the 7th, Clanks pops out, first pitch, then Wallace smashes a double off the scoreboard. CJ is up, takes a strike, swings through one, manages to hold up on the same slider he’s been swinging and missing all night, then hits a single to left. Wallace chugs home as fast as he can but fortunately, the throw from left was juuuuuuuuust a bit offline, or he would haved been dead meat. He sure is slow. Hall singles to left. Then JR is up, hits a grounder in the hole which Ramirez fields and tries to turn the DP: Hall is out at second and as he slides in to break up the DP (JR beat the throw) he and someone go down and stay down. Big gathering of folks around second – can’t see what is going on and naturally, they won’t replay anything or say anything on the El Useless. Finally Hall gets up and walks off, but the Marlins player is still down. After a few more minutes, he is helped up and it is Hanley Ramirez, who won’t put any weight at all on his left leg. Can’t tell if it is a damaged knee, ankle, foot – and naturally, no info on the fancy new scoreboard. Anyway, men on first and third, Wandy is pulled, Jason michales sent in to pinch hit and he does nothing.

Astros 2 Marlins 1

8th inning – Wandy is out, having thrown 82 pitches over 7 innings, 1 run, 6 singles, 2 doubles, no walks, one 3-ball count. A great outing – and he wasn’t even tired. So The Setup 8th Inning Man, Wilton Lopez is in, gets a popup, then gives up 2 singles, a 2 RBI double, another single, then a blessed GIDP.

But he’s already coughed up the lead and cost Wandy the W.

So Nolasco comes back out – Bourn singles, Sanchez sac-bunts, Bourn steals third, Pence takes 3 balls, fouls of 6 pitches, then strikes out on a ball which bounces in the dirt. Cmon, not so much as a ground ball for goodness sakes??? Clank popsup and Bourn is stranded on third. Good grief.

9th inning – Jeff Fulchino comes in – I supposed to try to prevent more runs, but what do I know, maybe he’s just a mopup guy these days. So he gets 2 outs, gives up a line drive homer to Coughlin into the Crawford Boxes (not quiiiite as bad as Brad Lidge giving up a homer to Scott Podsednik), gives up another single, then gets a lineout.

Marlins 4 Stros 2

Brett Wallace leads off with a tremendous opposite field homer to the Conoco Pump. CJ flies out to deep left, Bill Hall strikes out (at this rate, he’s gonna break Preston Wilson’s club record) and then JR singles. Although he’s a reasonably fast runner, he’s pulled and Jason Bourgeois is sent in to pinch run and Joe Inglett (still ofer) is sent in to pinch hit. Leo Nunez, the closer, knows that Boogey is supposed to be stealing and spends a lot of time with pickoff throws. Count goes to 1-2, Florida calls a pitchout and Boogey is out at second before Inglett has a chance to make the last out.

sigh

Fireworks were pretty good – set to 70s rock, as usual. I sure would like to hear some hiphop – or even salsa – just for some variety.

Since this was a close one, the crowd – and oh yeah, I need to mention that the Box was most DEFINITELY not full – maybe 80% at most, though I’m not sure how many tickets were actually sold because they no longer announce attendance; I do know that as of this morning, I could have bought a ticket in any level in the house (forgot to check the cheap seats though – and they were mostly empty.) First time I remember Opening Day not being absolutely packed full.

So I get home – traffic wasn’t bad as maybe only 1/3 of the audience stayed to watch the fireworks.

Number 2 son is wanting to talk to me. Did they win, he wants to know. No, I tell him. Was Wandy any good, he wants to know. Yes, I tell him – the bullpen let him down, or he would have won. He tells me the team is no good. I know, I tell him – but they are my team and sometimes teams are good and sometimes they are bad. Just like kids. He thinks about it. Says – then if they are bad, why do you go? I tell him – because I like baseball and anyhow, today was special because it was just mama and me and I got to do something special with her. He thinks about it. He asks if we can go see the game tomorrow. I look at him, say – I thought you didn’t like baseball and can’t get interested in a losing team. Yeah, he says, but I like YOU and I want to have a special day with you like you do with Gran. You sure you want it to be the baseball game, I ask him. WHY? Because you like baseball and I like you, he says.

Which goes to show that even if you think you know your kids, they can still astonish you and youneverknow. Which is why, like I say, if you want to understand people, you need to know baseball….

Opening Day 2011: Michael Is Bourn To Run

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Opening Day at noon and it was just me and Jana Brattain Dog and Dog Pappas to watch. Seemed strange to be watching Opening Day like this, but the good news was that we got to watch it on FSN with Brownie and Deshaies instead of The Other network’s crappy announcers who don’t know any Astros and don’t want to (heck, they didn’t want to during the WS neither, but I digress…)

The Guys came out swinging. And missing. Halladay looked unhittable for 2.2 innings, until the pitcher smacked him around. Well, hit a single up the middle, that is.

Let me take a minute to say that pitchers hitting is TEH AWESOMENESS and that the NL simply ROOOOOOLZ and the DH is to real baseball as softball is to real baseball!!!!!

Let’s talk about Astros hitters going down the Opening Day lineup:

Michael Bourn: hit the ball HARD every single AB – flew out twice to deep center/RF, lined out hard to first, tripled into the RF gap, scoring 2 runs, then he scored himself when Sanchez hit a sac-fly to shallow center – and yes, Ben Francisco, the new Phillies RF DOES have a good arm. And he drew the Astros first intentional walk of the year in the top of the 9th so that the pitcher could face Angel Sanchez. That’s da POWAH!!!! I should also mention that he didn’t swing and miss at any balls out of the strike zone. No spectacular catches and yes the final fly ball did go over his head, but it didn’t matter because it would have been the game winning sac-fly, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Angel Sanchez: the starting shortstop as Clint “Power-Aid” Barmes is on the DL with a broken hand. He is a slow runner and a mediocre fielder at short. Anyway, he struck out staring in the first, singled up the middle in the 4th but was out at second when Hunter Pence hit into what would have been a sure thing DP, only it was a hit-n-run, so Sanchez was able to break it up. He singled in the 6th (yeah, he sure owns Da Doc, don’t he?) but was not able to score on Pences deep double off the wall in deep right center as Manzella or Bourgeois or Bourn would have. And yeah he scored after Clank popped up and Bill Hall grounded out to second, but still, it might have made some difference in how both Clank or Bill Hall approached their ABs.

Well, OK, that’s fantasy – I mean the putting pressure on the pitcher/defense stuff when you have 2 lousy hitters coming up. Anyway, he fielded lousy – dropped a ball that Doc Halliday hit to him and barely got the ball to first base with a PITCHER running and the ump gave the call to the SS because the pitcher was running. Life ain’t fair – Doc was safe and it wasn’t THAT close. Bob Davidson has a nasty habit of blowing calls at 1B – this time, it went in the Astros favor. And it mattered because the guy on 3rd would have scored on Victorino’s fly ball.

Good was his sac-fly to score Michael Bourn and bad was his weak groundout to leave 2 on in the top of the 9th.

Hunter Pence: Struck out swinging first AB when Da Doc looked unhittable – no criticism here because that stuff was FILTHY; groundout FC woulda been easy GIDP ball; smashed a double off Da Doc in the 6th that SHOULD have given him his first RBI if the runner on 1B had had any sort of speed; popped up in the 7th; handled the 3 fly balls that came his way just fine.

Carlos Lee: El Perezoso (the sloth) got on his Caballo today – couldn’t get to a ball hit to left, but he ran as fast as he could and he threw to second as hard as he could. I know he wasn’r physically capable of either getting to the ball or throwing a bullet, but he gave it 100% and that was a pleasant surprise. He did zero with the bat and stranded Pence in the 4th and 6th, had a popup and a weak grounder. I hate it when teams insist on batting washed up hitters in the 3 or 4th hole because of the size of their contract instead of the size of their bat. I hope CJ and Wallace really REALLY heat it up to push Clank further down in the order. Because fat Old Guys don’t usually get better after they have started to stink and their bat speed declines…

Bill Hall: yes, he is in the 5 hole because of his Home Run Powah, not that we’ve seen it. Also, the contract. And he’s gonna stay there unless CJ/Wallace/Towles really heat up. Lessee – 2 weak grounders (one scored a man from 3rd), a swinging K and a fly ball to left. Handled grounders cleanly, had a NICE catch with a difficult, wind-blown popup in at the foul line in RF.

Chris Johnson: 3 swinging Ks (but at least they weren’t pitches out of the strike zone) and a fly ball to left. Did fine with the glove – caught a screaming liner and handled 2 tough grounders very well.

Brett Wallace: couldn’t hit Halliday, just grounded out weakly, but he did single off the lefty reliever. He has always hit leftys better than rightys, strangely enough. Anyway, he scored a run. He flew out in the 9th. Handled the glove just fine, caught everything thrown near him, caught a screaming liner and juuuuuust missed a wind-blown foup popup.

Quintero: struck out in the 3rd (Halliday was still DEALING), reached on a 2 base error when the RF let the fly ball clank off his glove. He couldn’t score from second when the pitcher singled – single too shallow, and Q not a fast runner and Michael Bourn’s long fly ball was caught at the wall. He singled in the 7th and scored on Bourn’s triple, but then he grounded out in the 9th. He threw out Victorino trying to steal second to end the 6th inning, which was a good thing because his pitcher had suddenly lost control of the strike zone and had thrown yet another ball. He had a passed ball clank off his glove with men on first and second in the 7th – which allowed them to go to second and third – and this mattered because although Polanco would have gone from second to third on Howard’s fly ball to center, Rollins would have stayed at first; Polanco would most likely have scored on Ibanez’ goundout, but not Rollins. And letting those 2 runs score turned out to be a bad thing because if we had been leading 4-0, it wouldn’t have been a closer’s job and

But I’m gettng ahead.

The guys knocked out Halliday after 6 innings/103 pitches, even though the only guys who had hit him were the pitcher and Sanchez, both with 2 singles. After they scored 3 runs off relievers Romero and Herndon, Jason Bourgeois came in to play LF, and beat out a single to short in the 9th, then promptly stole second. I like having 2 Michael Bourns on a team. But unfortunately, he and Bourn were stranded by Sanchez, which turned out to be a big deal…

Wilton Lopez is indeed the setup man, gave up a single and got 3 groundball outs.

The reason that it is really too bad that we weren’t leading by more than 3 runs is because then Brandon Lyon wouldn’t have come in. Let me tell you his ST stats: 8 IP over 8 games: 11 hits, no walks, 1 K, 6 R/5 ER. Now I know Brandon is not a strikeout pitcher, but I would expect him to have been able to strike out even a few of the minor leaguers he faved.

This afternoon, he didn’t have anything good and his pitches were up in the zone. Yes he DID have 3 broken bat singles, but NONE of them were exactly tough pitches to hit and the first single and last 2 hits were good, clean hits – in fact, the game-winning hit (with bases loaded, 1 out) was a drive to deep center. And yes, the Dogss DID go hide under the kitchen table when I started yelling Very Bad Words at the TV, how did you know? And no, the kidz were not home from skool neither, you guessed that too, hunh?

Before someone asks me – why didn’t Mills pull Lyon when it was obvious to anyone with eyeballs that Lyon had nothing? Answer – because it is not a Brad Lidge 06/07 thing where the manager has permission to pull the closer, who earns more money than someone who might actually, you know, be able to pitch. So no one warms up. Remember the problems with Valverde at the beginning of 08? So for a good while, we are just going to have to live with Lyon until Mills gets permission from Fast Eddie to put in Lopez or someone else who can get outs.

Tomorrow, it’s the Wand-Man vs Cliff Lee. And no, I’m not gonna jinx us by talkin bout Cliff Lee, just saying that I hope Wandy’s shoulder is feeling fine and the curveball is deadly.

The Astros And The Grays Have A Good 2010 Labor Day Weekend

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Why yes, we DID go away for the weekend, however did all yall guess? Went to see relatives and unfortunately, they live in Rangers territory, so watching games wasn’t an option for me. I DID sneak out and quick listen to snippets of the games on XM – and one important thing I heard was the Arizona announcers, who knew Chris Wallace QUITE well from his days at Arizona State University, saying that Wallace is being fed a steady diet of inside pitches because he apparently can’t handle major league stuff inside.

Interesting – lessee if that is correct. I went back, just to August 27 (Mets series) to see what he was hitting and what he was being fed and, first, this is what he hit for his 5 hits:

single to L – midplate, outside the zone FB
double to L – FB right down the middle
single to R – FB low outside corner just outside the zone
single to L – FB midplate just outside
single bloop popup shallow right – inside hi FB

I should note that he swung at 9 pitches outside the zone, got hits on 3, fouled off the other 6 – and none were close enough to be called strikes.

So, by the 9 zones, here are the strikes he was thrown and took/swung at/fouled off or got out on:

hi inside: 2
hi midplate: 5
hi outside: 4
middle in: 10
midplate: 5
middle out: 12
low in: 4
low midplate: 0
low outside: 1

Well, looks to me as if he’s missing all OVAH the place and they certainly aren’t concentrating on throwing inside, seeing as how he can’t seem to hit anything but a FB and he is just getting around on stuff on the outside. Not exactly sure what is off or if it is that his swing is too long/too short or what. The opposition is not just throwing him breaking stuff neither – he isn’t hitting fastballs very well. Maybe is it just making the adjustment from minor league to major league pitching. I sure nuff hope so because Clank is getting enough starts at 1B to make me think that Wallace isn’t going to be our 1B next year and Clank is just as dreadful with the glove at first as he is in left.

I checked out a few plays from Wandy’s game and saw how Clank’s incredibly lousy stop n throw of what should have been a simple 3-1 cost Wandy the game. Wandy tried to desperately stop the ball with his bare hand – must have stung, because he immediately threw a hanger which left the yard and that was the ballgame. You wouldn’t think that it is that hard to play first, but apparently it actually DOES take some skill.

And Bud Norris lost again. This time, he didn’t even make it 5 innings. I wondered if his previous lousy game happened because he threw to Castro and not Quintero, but this time he had Q back and it was the same old Bud not being able to locate – 3 walks, 1 homer, 8 hits, 5 ER with 1 fewer inning pitched. 

Bud wait!!!

Let’s check out what he threw and what got hit – 102 pitches, 58 FB, 25 sliders and 19 changeups. He actually, really threw only 1 bad pitch. The 2 doubles and the triple he gave up were all on changeups at the knees and inside and they all went down juuuuust inside the RF line. Sorry, but those were good pitches – had bad results, but the location wasn’t off. The 5 singles were ALL at the knees, 3 inside, 2 midplate. But the 3 run homer, which done him in, was a changeup smack dab down the middle and those pretty much get hit out.

So actually, he threw pretty well – 1 of every 3 pitches was fouled off and it looks as if the Dbax hitters are low ball hitters, and they really should have done the climb the ladder type game plan. That and Bud shouldn’t throw changes down the middle, but hey, it was his last pitch and he was tired.

The Astros came back to win 2 of 4 games, Wilton Lopez has now lost 2 straight games – might could he be tired? And Lyon appears to be staying in the closer role – and not sure if he is gonna stay there or not.

Today, it’s Figgy vs Carlos Silva.

Silva has faced the Astros 3 times this year and is 2-1: 7 IP, 0 ER/2R; 5 IP, 1 ER; 1 IP, 5 ER.

I got scolded for saying that Nelson Figueroa is a lucky pitcher. OK, let’s hope he ends up pitching with the same results he got the last few times, luck or no luck (meaning very few runs given up…)