Archive for the ‘J.R. Towles’ Category

5/25/11: JR Towles Breaks Slump, Drives In Winning Run And Astros Take Series From Dodgers

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

OK friends and neighbors and fellow Astros fans (yeah, I know who you are and all 15 of yall can take that paper bag off your heads) the home boys have now won 2 of our last 3 games in the LAST at bat.

AND

no, I can’t believe that I am saying this, but the bullpen has pitched NINE scoreless innings over 3 games. Yes, you read that right. No, I can’t hardly believe it neither. In fact, the bullpen hasn’t blown a save/lead since May 17 when Fulchino grooved a FB to Brian McCann. Sergio Escalona is so far doing great as the LOOGY, Del Rosario has stopped throwing pitches down the middle/unmoving pitches, Valdez has hung in there, Fulchino has pretty much done well, Lopez has been solid since returning from the DL, Melancon has managed to get the outs even with putting MOB. I guess Jose Valdez will get the ax when Lyon comes back from the DL. You know that Lyon has a partially torn rotator cuff – not sure exactly how/why he would be so much better after 2 weeks when nothing is done to deal with the injury, but he’s making 5 mill a year, so he’s coming back.

No, I am NOT cynical – teams make a WHOLE lot of decisions based on who is earning how much, not merit (see Bogusevic vs Michaels).

Which reminds me – I’m glad that pinch runner Bogusevic (Brett Wallace had doubled on a drive to the Hill – woulda been a triple for anyone who could run, but hey, it turned out to be good enough) scored the winning run tonight – good memory before he was sent down for Jeff Keppinger because you can’t send down Veteran Presence Michaels. This is going to be, um, INteresting.

Check this conversation that Millsie-poo had with Brian McTaggart (of mlb.com) about the ritual benching of Brett Wallace:

“Houston manager Brad Mills said his decision to play the left-handed-hitting Wallace against southpaws is weighted against several factors, including how well he’s swung the bat against a particular pitcher” (like he’s had all these ABs against ANY ML pitcher – enough to have even a teensy bit of statistical significance ) “and if other players need some at-bats. Mills has put Carlos Lee at first base and started Jason Michaels in left field on occasion this year.

‘His whole career, coming up in the Minor Leagues, he’s hit left-handers extremely well with no problems at all, and he’s still having good at-bats up there against lefties,‘ Mills said. ‘As he progresses and gains more experience and continues to get batter, that’s not going to be an issue at all. If it is now, it’s trying to get other guys at-bats.’ “

I understand needing to play bench guys in left every now and then, but there is no excuse except for $$$ for playing Carlos Lee instead of Wallace at first.

Anyway, we’re gonna have 3 OF who are NOT gonna be benched – Clank, Bourn and Pence. We’re gonna have ALL these IF – Wallace, CJ, Sanchez, Downs, Kepp, Hill, Barmes – and of all of em, let’s be real here, only Barmes has a shortstop’s glove, even though everyone except for Wallace and CJ ”can” play there. Kepp can play 3B and he’s like Brooks Robinson there compared to how he is at short – AND he hasn’t taken balls/played short since starting his minor league rehab; he’s ONLY played second base – interesting, yes? He’s getting paid about the same as Hall and Barmes, so this time, it won’t be a money question – and we all know that Fast Eddie tried his darndest to get rid of, I mean, trade Keppinger before the season – until the foot surgery (couldn’t DFA him) – so we KNOW that he’s gonna want to trade/send down/DFA someone because Bourgeois, who can play second and OF QUITE well, is gonna be ready to come off the DL pretty soon. Sanchez has no options and Downs is hitting and hitting for power (you know, what Hall and Barmes were supposed to do but aren’t) and the only thing that Barmes does better than Manzella is walk. And waste 3 mill more in salary.

Where was I?

Oh yeah – funfunfun to see what is gonna happen.

Anyway, to talk about this series: yesterday, Bill Hall made an error to load the bases and J Happ promptly threw a fastball RIGHT down the middle for a grand slam. All the runs were unearned, but he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings on 3 hits and 2 walks and a ROE. For a guy who gives up so few hits, he sure gives up a LOT of runs. The guys didn’t manage to do real too much against Billingsley, and CJ and Bill Hall went ofer, although CJ did drive in a run with a sac-fly. I’m not blaming Hall for the slam, neither – Happ threw an unmoving FB down the exact middle of the plate. Not that I’m saying that Hall made up for it in any way with the bat…

Today, Aneury threw 6 excellent innings, giving up 3 singles, 1 walk and a solo homer to Matt Kemp on a hanging slider. Aneury is turning out to be a much better starter than reliever – fine with me!!!! He had the one terrible game where he freaked out after the errors and with the HP ump refusing to call a strike a strike, but he’s come back strong these past 3 games and youneverknow, he just might could do fine the rest of the year – he WAS a starter in the minors.

I was really REALLY surprised to see Millsie-poo let Brett Wallace face lefty Ted Lilly – I was expecting to see Sanchez or Matt Downs or Bill Hall at first, in left, who knows. But lefty Bourn led off with a homer – his first of the year – juuuust inside the fence just to the right of the RF bullpen (how kewl is that!!!!). He’s started 46 of the Astros 50 games so far and only failed to reach base in 4 of them. Hard to believe that his OBP is only .344.

Where was I? Oh yeah – Brett Wallace. Anyway, in the 6th, with Clank on second, CJ was IBB so that Lilly could face Wallace and he got him out. Guess this means that Millsie-poo benching him against leftys is a sound idea. Except that I’ve seen him K or GO or FO vs rightys with 2 out MOB. I’m so confused. Just like Millsie-poo.

The 7th was exciting – Towles was on 3rd with 2 out and tried to score (game tied 1-1) on a WP – and after watching the replay umpty times, I’m still not sure he was actually out. But he made up for it by hitting the walkoff single in the 9th.  Yeah, I know I’m rooting for the guy, just as I’m rooting for CJ, who went ofer 3 with a IBB. But they’re young guys and learning to deal with ML pitching and there’s hope – unlike the Old Guys.

Pence went 1 fer 4 – singled with Sanchez on first (Sanchez was playing SS today and didn’t mess up with the glove) but Clank LODP to 3rd to end the inning. Sanchez wasn’t THAT far off second, but he’s slow as molasses and couldn’t get back. It wasn’t really a messup – the ball easily looked as if it could have been a single to left.

Brownie and Deshaeis said that this is the Astros 8th walk-off win this year. Amazing – this team is so BAD and yet they’ve rallied in the 9th EIGHT times of the 19 victories we have. And yes, I AM thinking about where this team would be if the bullpen hadn’t blown 12 of 18 saves. We’ve only been shut out once this year.

And if I hear one more time how some baseball “analyst” writer/BBTN guy says how the Astros “have” to trade Hitter Pence, I’m gonna SCREAM. Seeing as how the big media teams already have all the best players, I’d think we should be allowed to keep ours.

Day off tomorrow, then the DBax for the weekend. Last time they were here, I actually saw a couple of people in DBbax tshirts/caps/jerseys. They aren’t worried about getting beat up, like Brian Stow – Stros fans aren’t like that. That is one thing I have to say about the Box – you don’t get that Dodger “fans” crap here – no one is threatening opposing fans (even C*bs/Yecchs/RedSux), no drunk, obnoxious, obscenity screaming people allowed. Actually, I’ve never even heard Astros fans “taunting” opposition players with endless screams of “you suck” let alone inappropriate comments about family members. Which is, far as I’m concerned, great. Even if there are now only around 10K fans, MAYBE, in the actual stands.

And speaking of Brian Stow – last month, That Evulllll Barry Lamar made a PRIVATE visit to Brian Stow and pledged to pay all college bills for his 2 children. Not do a fund raiser and get some OTHER people to pay. Not play golf/give a dinner party/sign memorabilia to be sold. nope. He’s paying out of HIS OWN MONEY. Himself. And we are not talking about a small amount of money here. Barry Lamar didn’t put any limit on where the kids could go to college – which means that if they get into Stanford or Harvard (not cheap) Barry Lamar is paying. Barry Lamar’s people didn’t tell the media – Brian Stow’s attorney did, don’t ask me why, seeing as how Baarry Lamar wasn’t seeking any publicity from this.

He’s paid for more than a few things out of HIS OWN POCKET (especially with the Childrens’ Hospital) which is a HECK of a lot more than the supposedly Better People Who Are Not Uppity Youknowwhats Do. (What Those Other People did is to make media people happy by not telling them in no uncertain terms that they are insulting them by asking moronic questions, demonstrating their massive ignorance of the sport they are covering…)

I know he’s supposed to be The Villain, but you know, people are complicated….

5/11/11: Pence Hits Walkoff Double And Towles Scores The Winning Run

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Wandy gave up just 5 hard hit balls, but one of em was a Crawford Box popup – just got under a curve that hung just a lil and another just made it over the fence in right – FB was high and outside, too – for one of those 350′ homers and just like that his Win was gone. He had only given up one run on a triple on a thigh high inside FB to the left of the RF bullpen to Joey Votto and then a long RBI single to the LF bullpen – and THAT FB was right down the middle – he’s lucky it didn’t go out.

It was great watching Bogusevic play LF instead of Clank. He didn’t get a hit, but he drew 2 walks and scored a run. In fact, every starter in the lineup except Wandy got on base tonight – the guys drew NINE walks. That must be some sort of record for 8.1 innings – I mean, since Bagwell and Berkman were both drawing 100 walks a year. What is really kewl is that every run scored was by a guy who drew a walk and went hitless. Bet THAT is pretty rare with this team, too.

Pence played hero tonight too – hitting the game winning double – reached for a low, outside FB (poor Leake – it is just exactly the pitch he should have made that Hunter usually swings at and misses) and just kind of golfed it to the RF corner – plenty of time for JR, who runs VERY well, to easily score standing up. Had a couple of great plays, too.

But we really got lucky – they guys went 1 fer 6 with RISP. And left at least 1 MOB in every inning of the 4 innings Volquez lasted: man on first in the 1st; man on 3rd in the 2nd; men on 1st and 3rd with 1 out in the thrd; man on second in the 4th (second time for JR leaving a RISP). Then Sam LeCure came on (he kicked Astro ass in the game he started against us before he got put in the bullpen. Went 1,2,3 in the 5th, left man on first 1 out in the 6th. Logan Ondrusek pitched the 7th, loaded the bases with 2 out and Downs left em all. Nick Masset got 1,2,3 in the 8th and – well, yall know what happened to Mike Leake. Wonder why he got put in the bullpen – he had 4 of 5 QS in April and of course, he had that 7 ER/3.2 IP against us in the beginning of May, but not sure why he got pulled from the rotation. He doesn’t seem to be doing real too well there.

We have a day off tomorrow, then the Mets come to town.

Jim Crane is apparently attempting to buy this ballclub with only 75-100 mill of his own money – he is going to “finance” 250 mill of the 680 that Drayton wants. That is even worse than Frank McCourt and I sure hope that Bud Selig refuses such a highly leveraged offer. I’m not surprised that Drayton will try to push this through because he’d end up with about 50-100 mill more than he would with  offers from the other groups which are NOT leveraged. Bud didn’t like Crane when he went to get the Rangers and he put in more money than this. And anyone who thinks that Crane will be this great owner – all I can say is Frank McCourt. Drayton didn’t have a debt load and Crane is going to have to put incoming money from MLBAM/RSN toward the debt load – and I’m not sure that he wouldn’t exceed it.

This is very bad news.

For ONCE, I hope that Bud doesn’t screw the Astros franchise.

4/24/11: JR Towles Homers So Randy Wolf Can’t Hand The Stros Their First Shutout Of 2011

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

First thing I want to mention is that Miller Park has been pretty much full for this Astros series. FULL!!! You know, like the Box used to be when we had a great team and an owner who cared?

Not sure why I hate platooning so much. Since Wolf is a lefty, Brett Wallace and Michael Bourn are sitting – Jason Bourgeois is playing center and JMike is playing left and yes, I know that Brett Wallace was beat up physically yesterday and bench guys need PT too. I was surprised and actually pleased to see CJ still in the lineup.

Guys are wearing the traveling grays. I must be the only one who hatesHATESHATES the ugly brick red top/white pants combo. The white pinstripe unis are OK – but actually, I preferred the early 90s blue/gold unis. Not sure why they got rid of them…

1st inning: Stros go 1,2,3. I notice that Cowboy Joe West is not calling curves for a strike, which makes me nervous. One thing I really love about Jim Deshaeis and Bill Brown as announcesr is that they both are quite honest about plays and ball/strike calls, whether they go for us or against us.

Crew start off with 2 singles – Gomez comes with the drawn in IF expecting the bunt. Braun Ks on a nasty Unca Charlie. Prince GO. I’m sorry he’s gonna leave Milwaukee and go to some high paying team – I understand that he is wanting Ryan Howard’s contract and the Crew can’t afford THAT. I was sorry to see Sabathia leave for The Evil Empire as well – especially as he talked about how much he liked Milwaukee. I wonder sometimes if the ballplayers really ARE under significant outside pressure to take the largest contract. Or maybe they just really DO want more face and let’s be real here – the 4 letter ignores teams not in NY/Boston?LA if possible. One of these days, I’m gonna actually time – with a watch, I mean, the minutes/seconds spent on each team during each hour of BBTN. McGehee GO. 18 pitches.

2nd inning: Carlos GO on the first pitch. Hall Ks. Randy is throwing strikes, lots of em. And he’s locating, too. J Mike takes 2 called strikes, then pops up the 3rd – it was up and inside, but it might could have been strike 3 – with Cowboy Joe, youneverknow. 8 pitches. This gives Wandy PLENTY of rest.

Betancourt FO, Boggs (the off day RF) sitting on the 3-1 FB, sends it over the fence. And that FB was right down the middle, too. Yeah, I know he’s a rook, but just the same, a FB down the middle is not the best idea. Nieves pops up to Hall and Wolf Ks swinging. He’s already up to 32 pitches.

Crew 1 Stros nada

3rd inning: CJ goes to 3-2, not swinging at anything out of the zone and FO to right – just got under it. At least he didn’t look BAD. JR hits the FB almost over the CF fence. Wandy breaks up the nono with a solid single to right center. Fouled off a couple, didn’t swing at garbage – better AB than anyone so far except JR. Bourgeois singles to left. CMON ANGEL!!!! But he pops up to center. Boy needs to learn how to pull the ball a little more…

Weeks sends a ball over the CF fence then Gomez sends a bouncer up the middle which Wandy and Angel can’t get – Wandy picks him off 1B cleanly but Carlos has a noodle arm so he’s safe on second. Braun Ks again. Prince sends a FB to left, JMike can’t come up with it – tried to dive, but missed, Gomez scores and Prince goes to third. Jmike, sorry to say, is no longer a “defensive replacement” as he has gotten waaay too slow. McGehee singles Prince home. Next pitch in the strike zone called a ball. Wandy frustrated and Arnesberg out. Betancourt pops up, Boggs GO. Defense matters.

Crew 4 Stros uck

4th inning:  Stros down 1,2,3 – at least Carlos got it to the warning track. Crew out 1,2,3 for the first time. CJ makes 2 solid plays.

5th inning: JMike pops up the first pitch. CJ pops up the second. JR takes 4 pitches to GO. 7 freaking pitches. Poor Wandy. Gomez singles and Sanchez can’t get it fast enough to get Gomez out. Braun singles to center and Gomez goes to third. Da Prince Ks and Braun steals 2nd. McGehee IBB. Bases loaded. Peachy. Out comes Arnesberg, tells Wandy – bullpen too tired from all the other guys sucking – you get yerself outta this, and Wandy does, getting Yuni to swing under and popup a FB after 3 straight curves and he gets Boggs swinging at a neck high FB. 19 freaking pitches.

6th inning: Wandy leads off, hits a solid single to center. You notice it took him SIX pitches and HE wasn’t swingin at no curve outside the strike zone. Bourgeois GIDP 6-4-3. Great. Sanchez FO. Like, hey HITTERS, Wandy can’t be expected to be doin all the offense, you know.

Wandy gets Nieves and Wolf both swinging, walks Weeks, who steals 2nd on a curve, but next pitch, Gomez GO to CJ, who doesn’t rush, but makes sure he plants his feet and gets a good throw. He did very well fielding all the GB hit his way all game. Hope THIS part of his game stays good.

7th inning: Cmon guys. Pence takes strike 1, fouls off 2 balls outside the zone, lays off a lowball, flies out. Clank pops up – also swung and missed at a pitch shoulder high. Bill Hall Ks swinging on the 3rd pitch – also high and out of the zone. He took the sombrero tonight.

Wandy’s back out – and he’s at 106 pitches. Wonder how long he’s gonna be left in – doesn’t look like anyone is warming up. Braun and Da Prince GO. Then he walks McGehee on 4 straight pitches, none of em near the strike zone. Uh oh. Yuni Betancourt singles up the middle on a FB down the middle. Arnesberg out, long talk. Men on first and second – Wandy gonna face the last guy, Boggs. And he goes to 3-1, then gets him swinging on 2 straight curves. He trudges off the mound.

Wandy didn’t have his ace stuff, but he shut em down and got the outs he needed with MOB after the 3rd – 10H, 3 BB, 9 K, 2 HR, 7 IP 4 ER. Threw 126 pitches (career high – Coop or Garner woulda pulled him in the 5th for a PH) so only 2 innings for the pen – hopefully.

8th inning: JMike takes 2 balls, then gets a FB down the middle, but only flies out to left. Hard to believe this is the same guy who hit .380 in ST. CJ hits the 3-2 FB with a grounder to the hold between first and second, but Weeks makes a great play and he’s out. At least this AB was better. JR times the curveball VERY well and it flew 400+ feet to deep left center. Downs, pinch hitting, GO.

JR BREAKS UP THE SHUTOUT!!!!!

Crew 4 Stros 1

Enerio Del Rosario is in. Nieve singles, PH Counsell GO, Weeks GO. With Gomez batting, Angel Hernandez (ahem) calls a balk – Deshaeis can’t call it horsepoo, but is suspiscious that he can’t find any time where this righty didn’t come set just right. But Gomez GO, so it didn’t matter anyhow.

9th inning: Axford in. ERA 7.36, 2 BS already, but last night, he looked like Da Mariano out there. Bourn in to PH – not sure why – just like last night, 3 swing n misses. Sanchez singles up the middle, then a WP moves him to second. CMON Hunter!!!! But no, Weeks gets the grounder and throws him out. Clank up. Foul. Strike 2 looking. Bounced ball. Foul. Foul on shoulder high inside pitch. Takes strike 3 RIGHT down the middle. And I mean RIGHT down the middle.

sigh

Astros hitters were teh sukc – when your pitcher gets 2 of the 4 hits and NOBODY walks, you uck-say. And even if JMike had caught Fielder’s ball, Wandy STILL would have lost 2-1, yeah, I know…

By the way, Astros pitchers combined are hitting .357 and that is better than any DH over in The Inferior League!!! (and no I do NOT wanna hear about OPS/SLG/RBI – tell your stats to shut up…)

Tuesday, Lance Berkman, last week’s NL Player Of The Week and his 1.15 OPS (BA .377 for those of yall who prefer that) comes back to town. I just might spend the $2.oo to go and watch him hit one of his patented CBox opposite field homers. Or one of his usuals into the RF bullpen. Or maybe I’ll get to see him hit one over the 435′ sign and see it land on that patch of fake grass. Or even steal 3rd on Quintero. Or hit for the cycle. Youneverknow…

4/20/11: Hunter Pence Homers To Beat Mets

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Actually, it was a pretty exciting game, even if it was between last place teams.

RA Dickey threw a lot of knuckleballs, which usually moved all ovah the place – first inning, 3 strikes to Bourn, Sanchez GO, Pence walks, Carlos FO.

Then Bud made things, uh, INteresting. Reyes singles, is almost thrown out leaning off first, then promptly steals second, Thole Ks swinging (Bud had  GREAT fastball), David Wright walks (he either walks or Ks these days), Jackal hits a nubber that Bud gets a glove on enough that no one can get (Bud’s fielding was lousy) and it’s bases loaded. Lefty Ike Davis Ks (so much for Bud can’t get leftys out) then Bud hangs a slider to Angel Pagan and I mean that baby was there, that baby was FAT, that baby was hit to the warning track in right, where Pence snagged it and that baby woulda been a granny at the Box. But 26 pitches gone, it’s still zip-zip.

Second inning, Brett Wallace doubles to left, CJ hits an IF dribbler that neither the pitcher or the 2B can get, so 2 on no out. Hall GO – ball hit too weakly for a GIDP, then Towles walks. So Bud’s up, bases loaded, and Dickey throws a WP and Brett Wallace beats the throw home because for some reason, Thole weakly underhandes the ball to Dickey – Wallace is SLOW – I don’t get it – so 1 run is in, then Bud hits a RBI single up the middle and JR scores from second. He can easily outrun BOTH Wallace and Sanchez and he’s a catcher!!! Then Michael singles to left and CJ scores!!! But then Sanchez and Pence both K swinging.

Astros 3 Mets 0

Can Bud hold on and not do his usual thingy where he can’t find the plate for an inning????

Willie Harris pops out – the ball heads to the stands at the RF line between home and first and Bill Hall calls for the ball and does a Jeter thingy, catching the ball as he goes head-first into the stands, slamming into some kid reaching for the ball (got him a Web Gem – they LIKEY that stuff) and looked like he really hurt his ribs or stomach or something, but he came back into the game after a few minutes delay. Murphy Ks and Dickey GO. Only 12 pitches this inning.

Third inning – 2 outs, then CJ hits a ball almost right over the first base bag that goes into shallow right and neither Davis nor Beltran can get it and Chris hustles into second with a double. I’m glad he’s getting hits, but he hasn’t really squared up any pitches solidly in quite some time. Hall Ks, stranding him. What a surprise. I’m sorry he’s doing so lousy – he was one of my favorite players when he was with the Brewers – but his last good year as a starting regular was years ago and unlike Fast Eddie, I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Bud gives up a single to Reyes (again) who steals second (again) gets Thole to FO, Wright Ks, swinging, then the Jackal doubles into the LF gap, scoring Reyes. Ike Davis hits a slow roller to third – CJ makes a nice play, but Davis is too fast. Pagan flies out to Carlos, who makes a very nice running catch.

He’s STILL doing his best in the field – I can hardly believe it either, but he is.

Fourth inning – Stros go 1,2,3. Mets go 1, single, 2,3 – with Bud FINALLY getting Reyes out.

Fifth inning – Sanchez FO, Pence out on 3 straight strikes, staring, but Thole can’t catch the last one and Hunter reaches first on a passed ball. Carlos GIDP to Wright on the VERY NEXT PITCH!!! grrrrrrrr.

It was GIDP night for BOTH teams, and – but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Bud gets 2 swinging Ks, gives up a double to that dratted Jackal – Pence had to come forward to get the ball, and it popped out of his glove – then Davis popped out to JR.

Sixth inning – Brettt Wallace singles (his BA is now up to .293), then 2 pitches later, CJ GIDP 6-4-3. Here we go with the GIDPs again. grrrrrrrr. Downs, who replaced Hall, who is out with an “ankle injury”????? flies out to mid center.

Bud’s at 87 pitches – only has a 2 run lead. Pagan grounds out. Willie Harris bloops one into shallow right for a double. Then Bud hangs a slider – absolutely mid plate, juicy, fat, succulent, and Daniel Murphy hits it over the RF fence. One hung slider too many = goodbye W for Bud. Dickey GO, Reyes singles, naturally, then Thole flies out to Carlos who runs HARD to just barely catch the ball at the wall.

Tie game – and Bud is at 106 pitches. Someone else is gonna hafta win/lose…

7th inning: JR is HBP – he broke his 6 game hit streak, but he reached twice and score once. Pinch hitter Joe Inglett – you won’t believe this – makes an out. Bourn hits a somewhat slow ball to the second baseman, who bobbles it – no one is out, and for some reason, it’s a hit, not an E4. Don’t ask me to explain THAT one. Then Angel Sanchez GIDP right to David Wright, who steps on third, then throws out Sanchez by 20+ feet.

Third (swear words) ground into double play in 3 (swear words) innings.

Melancon comes in, can’t find the plate, walks David Wright with 5 straight pitches. Jackal grounds to second – can’t turn the DP. But Ike Davis does – grounding to CJ, who turns a very nice 5-4-3. Darn that boy – if he could just work on not getting excited and making sure he sets before throwing/doesn’t throw when he can’t make an out – he’s actually very good.

8th inning – Pence turns on an inside knuckleball and POW, ball gone over the LF fence. Feels good after all those humiliating swings at air. Carlos, Brett and CJ gone on 6 pitches.

But Astros lead 4-3.

Fernando Abad comes in (must be getting tired – he’s getting used a LOT) and Pagan draws a 10 pitch walk. Willie Harris Ks, Murphy singles to left – so there are men on first and third, 1 out. Geez – here we go again. Righty Justin Turner comes in to PH and out goes Abad and in comes Valdez. And then – Turner Ks swinging. Towles drops the slider – which doesn’t go far – and Pagan, who was already halfway home when the pitch was thrown, is out at the plate as Valdez tags him.

DOUBLE PLAY!!!! This time, it goes the Astros way. What goes around comes around.

Our old friend Jason Isringhausen, now pitching mopup with a much slower fastball and a lot more cut stuff, gets 1,2,3 out.

Brandon Lyon comes in with a 1 run lead to protect. And Jose EFF Reyes singles to right. Oh jeez – my blood pressure. I was gonna duck out and close my eyes, but naturally, kids want to see the end (yes I’m a bad Mami) and I have to Set A Good Example Of Cheering For Your Team No Matter What – so Josh Thole bunt pops up the first pitch to Lyon and Reyes, who had been running on contact, was doubled off first . HAH!!!!! Wright flies out to Pence, Melancon wins and we FINALLY beat Dickey.

We’ve FINALLY won 2 in a row!!!!! And we’ve FINALLY won a series!!!!! Tomorrow is JA Happ vs our old friend (from the Brewers) Chris Capuano, who got hurt in 07, missed 08 and 09 with umpty surgeries, and cme back last year, mostly as a reliever. He was pressed into service as a starter with the Mets this year because of suckage/injuries and has so far, um, not done real too well. He’s a lefty, and I hope this doesn’t mean that Bourn and Wallace will be pulled out as usual. Why can’t Mills pull out the guys who suck instead of guys who hit?

In other news, MLB took over the Dodgers because Frank McCourt is broke and can’t meet payroll, so you KNOW they’ll force him to sell – and so looks as if we’re gonna be stuck with Drayton/Tal/Fast Eddie for a good while longer as bigbux buyers will be clawing each others’ eyes out to get the Dodgers (then the Mets are gonna be next – not sure how THEy are gonna meet payroll with the attendance starting to look like the Marlins…)

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….

J.R. Towles Must Have Made Someone REALLY Angry

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

J.R..Towles and his .191 BA just got sent down to Double A. This way, we can keep Quintero and his .201 BA up here where he belongs. Oh yeah – and we called up Kevin Cash – he’s 4 fer 23 at Triple A – 1 walk and a lot of Ks.

Well THIS will sure nuff help the offense.

And The Vaunted Jason Castro?

He’s hitting .221 – 15 fer 68 with 16 walks for a nice .619 OPS.

Big Deal.

I don’t know what Towles did, but he must have SERIOUSLY pissed someone off. Probably Roy – don’t ask me how, I don’t know yet. (Either that, or Drayton must have come up to him and said something about champion and JR said something like – go look in the mirror, fool…) He better go and try his darndest to get traded to some other organization because his time here is OVAH.

Berkman Returns, Miracles Happen, Astros Beat Marlins With SECOND Comeback Win Of 2010

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Astros FANS didn’t think there was gonna be no miracles, that is fer sher, because the stands were pretty empty – maybe 1/3 full. Maybe.

But the guys sure nuff didn’t care because they looked overjoyed and relieved to see Lance. I know all yall wanna know who was removed for Lance and the answer is that Chris Johnson went on the DL with a muscle strain which happened I don’t know when. Maybe it is a leftover from ST – but he didn’t get sent down. You KNOW Drayton doesn’t want to release Kaz only to see some other team pick him up and he suddenly hits like Barry Lamar (Himself, not Dog…)

Anyway, it sure didn’t look real too good for the motley crew (not crue) in the first when the first 4 Marlins singled and they led 2-0 at the end of their half. But Bourn took the first of his 2 walks and stole second, then stole 3rd, then scored on a Berkman groundout to first (yeah, first AB and Lance already has more RBIs than Clank) to cut the score in half.

In the second, Chris Coughlin drove in Wes Helms to make it 3-1 (Chris Coughlin always looks like a MVP with the bat when he faces the Astros) but the Astros got lucky when Pence got a checked swing single on a dribbler just inside the fair line. Then Feliz grounded into what should have been an easy 6-3 with Pence already taking off for second, but Hanley Ramirez made a foolish mistake when he tossed the ball to Uggla, trying to force Pence and Uggla, who wasn’t really expecting the ball, turned and airmailed it over the 1B head, so Pence went to third on the error and Feliz was safe. JR Towles singled home Pence

Miracle #1 – JR Towles gets his BA over his weight

to make it 3-2, Manzella had a 9 pitch AB before Bourn field out to left – Coughlin making an excellent catch to deprive Bourn of a RBI double.

In the 3rd, Berkman made an excellent diving stab of a hard hit ball for a lineout (forget Blum/Feliz making THAT play – gloves DO matter at first base, believe it or not. Well, after watching Feliz for a couple of weeks, all yall believe it more than you used to…) then hit a ball to the RF bullpen for a double – would have been a triple if his legs were 100% as they were in 08.

In the 4th and 5th, both pitchers got 1,2,3 outs. Then, in the 6th

Miracle #2 – Clank hits his FIRST really well hit ball, not a flyout, but a smashed liner to the RF bullpen for his FIRST EXTRA BASE HIT OF THE YEAR!!!!! (no RBIs yet, cain’t be askin for too many miracles at a time)

and then,

MIRACLE # 3 – Pence doesn’t swing at pitches out of the strike zone and TAKES HIS FIRST WALK – and yes, I know that only the 4th ball was anywheres near the strike zone, but hey like I said, patience is a virtue – not just for Pence you know what I’m sayin here…

Feliz flies out, then JR singles home Pence for his second RBI of the day. (JR’s heating up – he tore the cover offn the baseball in AAA last year, and so far, Castro isn’t doing real too much – 8 fer 34 with 7 BB and no XBH, so maybe he’s relaxed a little.)

Then, Mills, and I am NOT kidding you, pinch hits for Manzella with Cory Sullivan – yeah, with his OPS less than MY weight. I understand why you might could want to pinch hit for Manzella – he’s not exactly Hanley Ramirez with the bat, but with a WORSE hitter? Just because the hitter is a lefty? Please. What IS it with these managers who think that a terrible lefty is ALWAYS better than a good righty vs a righty pitcher??? And if you insist on a lefty, why the WORST lefty on the bench?

grrrrrrrrr

So after the 7th inning stretch, Fredi Gonzlez pulls Volstad, who had been pinch hit for by Mike Lamb, who returned to the ML after spending 08 sucking for Minnesota/Milwaukee and last year sucking at AAA (mostly hurt) and Blum, who is NOW pinch hitting for the pitcher, immediately greets Wood, the reliever, with a single. Then Bourn walks again. The boy he has got the right idea – getting on base is always better than getting out (unless it is an out that drives in a run – but I’m getting ahead of myself here.)Kepp has moved to short and Kaz is in at second. Mills has Kepp, at this point, the best hitting guy on the team, sac-bunt???!!! but the strategy works as Berkman is NOT walked with 1B open (???why?????) and he ties up the game with a groundout to first. More RBIs than hits. Clank pops out stranding Bourn on 3rd.

Lyon comes in – I was a little surprised, as Sampson had been warming up, but

Miracle #4 – Lyon managed to get 3 straight outs this time and then

Miracle #5 – Fredi Gonzalez sent his ineffective pitcher back out and

Miracle #6 – Hunter Pence hit his first extra base hit of the year AND on a 2-0 count!!!!! Feliz singles him to 3rd, JR Ks (a leeeetle too eager this time) and then Kaz, 0fer his last 18, squeeze bunts Pence home with a perfect bunt down the 1st base line. I think you can call it a squeeze even if it IS down the 1st base line, and I THINK that Pence was breaking for home, but it’s hard to tell. Then Jason Michaels hits a pinch hit homer over the Crawford Boxes into the Hall and

Miracle #7 – the Astros have their second come from behind hitting in a week!!!!!

to lead 7-4. I thought Bourn was gonna get walk #3, but he flied out to center on a 3-2 pitch that would most definitely have been strike 3.

Lindstrom gives up a run with a single, groundout, wild pitch and a 10 pitch single, then after Mills goes out to the mound and threatens to play “Sugar Plum Fairy” as his entrance music, he gets the last guy on a groundout to preserve the Astros First Home Win of 2010!!!

I can’t call THAT a miracle because it was bound to happen SOMEtime before the end of September.

Interesting thing – Lindstrom is reminding me of Brad Lidge (when he’s not hurt) with his motion and use of fast fastball and wild slider. The hits he has given up so far have been groundball singles that are hit hard through the holes and his slider is, uh, crazy. He’s not as incredible as Brad was at his best, and he sure doesn’t get near the number of swings and misses, but youneverknow…

Tomorrow, it’s Bud Norris vs Josh Johnson, LHP, who hasn’t done very well vs Houston – 0-3 in 2 GS and 1 in relief with a 7.36 ERA over 11 IP with THREE homers.

homers

hmmmmmm

Maybe we can get some MORE miracles tomorrow…

In Which JR Towles Goes 3 for 4 To Help Roy Oswalt Beat The Cubs For Win #1

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Yeah, I know the last post was short – but I had to go off with Husband and kids the second the ballgame ended and therefore I am kind of continuing things here.

Roy pitched an awesome ballgame, especially considering that the HP ump didn’t give him the corners or the low strike. The wind blowing in sure nuff helped, too. Roy went 7 IP – and he didn’t go longer because he had to throw a lot of extra pitches when Feliz didn’t get to a bloop popup that Berkman would have gotten in his sleep – looks as if 1B is tougher to play than people give the fielder credit for, when the ump didn’t give him strike 3 on DLee in the 4th – was RIGHT down the middle and when Feliz let an easy grounder clank off his glove in the 7th. It adds up to 16 pitches…

Let’s talk about hitting:

Clank went the other way with an outside pitch in the 2nd, hitting a clean single to right. He hit a ball very hard and very squarely to left in the 3rd, but the wind knocked it down – the wind giveth and the wind taketh away. He actually went to a 3-2 count (???!!!) in the 6th, but popped it up and then had a routine FO in the 8th. This is actually good, because he didn’t flail helplessly at whatever and at pitches out of the zone. He also wasn’t swinging at the first pitch, no matter where it is (like not a strike) and hopefully, this means he just might could be coming out of his slump.

Pence also went the other way with an outside pitch for a single to right – not trying to hit a homer every time up. He also slid to break up the DP, so Chris Johnson’s FC grounder drove in a run. Good job. Unfortunately, he didn’t show any patience at his other ABs and hit 2 routine grounders and an easy FB. Doesn’t look real too good right now.

Keppinger had 3 groundouts and an RBI single.

JR Towles had a great night though – 2 solid singles to right and a homer high off the foul pole in left – amazing considering the strength of that wind – so he drove in 2, scored 2 and went 3 fer 4. He is now outhitting both Pence and Clank, but is trailing Tommy Manzella and Chris Johnson.

Only 1 walk, and that was ROY OSWALT, the freaking PITCHER. This team has SEVEN walks for the entire YEAR. You’d think that with the horrible hitting, that they would value getting on base SOMEhow, but noooooooo…

The best hitter, Michael Bourn, was kept out of the lineup because it was a lefty starting and like, so what if he can hit leftys as well as rightys?

So far, Mills looks just like Coop to me – except the players like him. Same lack of imagination, same inability to judge when to pull a pitcher, same obsession with platooning when it isn’t necessary, too. BAH

And tomorrow, it’s the Wand Man (who had better get his youknowwhat together) vs Ryan Dempster, who the Astros have done fairly well against over the years. The current Astros have hit him well, even Keppinger.

Wandy has done pretty well against the Cubs: 4-4 in 13 GS over 79.2 IP – but has given up 12!!! homers. Even so, he has a 3.84 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, .264 BAA. Trouble is that he gets hit HARD at Wrigley – let’s hope he can go out there and get that filthy curve working again.

I’m Happy To Be Wrong: Chris Johnson Makes The 25 Man Roster And Kata Doesn’t

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Well, Johnson gets 5 days to “watch the Old Guys go about their business” that is. Berkman is going to start the year on the DL and is eligible to come back off on the 10th. His knee is still swollen and giving him problems and I hope it is not like the problem Barry Lamar had back in 05 with a bad infection. But then again, I know like nothing about knees and how they get infections inside them…

Chris Johnson hit his 6th homer this afternoon after Wandy gave up NINE earnies. Good grief. I see that Keppinger was playing short and I don’t know if fielding had anything to do with it. But I see he only struck out 1 and walked 2. Maybe Wandy’s mind is on his pregnant wife, who is supposed to give birth tomorrow, and he can’t concentrate. Because he can’t afford to return to the old days of, uh, um, trying to cut it fine. On the other hand, he was pitching to Quintero and he has not historically done well pitching to him – and unless he has changed his feelings, he doesn’t LIKE pitching to Q.

But youneverknow.

And Sampson is looking great aned Moehler is looking better, so if Paulino’s back spasms are bad, Moehler will get spot starts, not Sampson.

And Arias’s shoulder is bad enough that he’ll have to start the year on the DL. Don’t know if he will need surgery or not. Yorman Bazardo is also starting the year on the DL – smart move – this way, Fast Eddie might could slip him through waivers on the 10th.

Cory Sullivan has indeed made the 25 man – as Fast Eddie told the media the first day of ST and Jason Bourgeois will go to AAA.  Some “competition…”