Archive for April, 2008

4/30/08: Pitcher Micah Owings Beats Astros With Pinch Hit Home Run

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Before a pitcher kicked Astro butt with BAT, I was gonna call this one “Brad Ausmus Uses Randy Johnson For Batting Practice And Gets His BA Back Up To His Weight.”

Ah well…

Shawn Chacon gets his 6th no-decision, again leaving the game when the Astros were ahead, only to have the bullpen blow it. The guy is cursed, I tell you. He sure didn’t have much going for him today, giving up 5 runs in 5 innings, having trouble because he threw mostly first pitch balls and had to keep pitching out of jams. Of course, not good fielding cost him, as Cruz didn’t get to a run scoring fly ball Bourn most likely would have and Pence badly misplayed another fly ball, which went over his head, letting a run score

I remember Cruz when he was a great fielder – he has slowed quite a bit and his throws aren’t near the bullets they used to be. He did actually hit one ball very well today though – the very last out of the game. He can’t pinch hit for spit and he can’t play center very well any more and he can’t even manage to outhit Brad Ausmus – and that ain’t right. It’s one thing when you don’t swing at letter high FB you can’t catch up to or swing at unhittable stuff out of the zone AND you hit line drives that get caught or what should have been doubles to the gap but some fielder made a Web Gem or pulled a ball back over the wall. But Cruz isn’t even doing that. And this is not a young guy learning how to adjust to ML pitching, neither. I’m not one of those small sample size people who is ready to bench/send down a guy after an ofer series, but I see absolutely nothing about Cruz that would recommend keeping him on the team over Diaz or Gorneault.

Astros pinch hitters are 2fer 21. Which is bad. Of course, the pinch hitters aren’t good hitters in the first place, which doesn’t help – and I am almost missing Orlando Palmeiro.

And speaking of pinch hitters, I would guess Bork is taking a HUGE amount of poopoo for giving up a homer to a pinch hitting PITCHER – yeah, he’s a good hitter all right. Pitchers hitting homers is SERIOUSLY cool – but the cool part means that the homer didn’t beat your team, you know…

Randy Johnson looked, well, old. His FB didn’t have real too much movement, his slider didn’t have much slide to it. I remember when we got him for the pennant race 10 years ago – the best Astros team we ever had that year – and he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA (and that, my friends, even in the Dome, was good for a 391 ERA+ which was his best ever) and he lost both postseason games, giving up 2 runs in the first (yeah, that lost the game) and one run in the last (yeah, that lost the game) because future Hall of Famers Baggy and Bidge didn’t hit for spit – and neither did anyone else except for Ausmus – yeah that one. Sigh.

smile
The first Killer B team – Bagwell, Biggio, (Derek) Bell, (Sean) Berry, Brad (Ausmus), Billy (Speiers), Batshtt (Carl Everett) – just kidding about that last one…

Lance hasn’t done much of anything since he got named NL player of the week. Maybe it is a curse, like the SI cover or something.

Anyway, tomorrow is a needed day off, and then it is the weekend with the Brewers, then the Nats and our old friend Tim Redding.

Jack Cassel, by the way, got sent down, as expected, so that Wiggy can re-join the team on Friday. Gonna be interesting to see who goes byebye when Wandy comes back…

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4/30/08: Valverde Strikes Out The Side For 3rd Save In A Row

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Seems Valverde has fixed his serioius mechanical problems – he hasn’t had a bad outing since the debacle in Philly 12 days ago. I’ll go for that.

Cooper kept to his policy of removing Cassel at the first sign of trouble, regardless of pitch count, and so he didn’t even finish the 5th inning. Last game, he had an out and had just given up a single, but this time he looked as if he was having significant trouble finding the strike zone, as he had given up 2 walks already, so I understand Cooper yanking him out on the spot

At that time, the Astros were up 6-3 and I would guess that Coop had already seen enough of Max Scherzer to know that the Astros would be lucky to get so much as a hit off him, the way he was pitching. I COULD be a little snippy and point out that Laz Diaz had a HUGE strike zone and maybe things won’t be so easy the next time, but point stands anyhow. I am feeling unhappy about watching Scherzer because he is exactly the pitcher/player that this Organization will never get; he is represented by Boras and he was paid more than slot. Drayton would prefer to get the Bogusevics of the pitching world, or hope he’ll get lucky with the Brad Jameses. I checked it out – Scherzer held out until the last second, but the Dbax played hardball with Boras, and finally Scherzer was signed to a ML contract – 4 years at 4.3 mill, and if he pitches even 75% as well as he did last night, they got themselves the bargain of the century

The hitters did fine against Edgar Gonzalez, who was awful. Relievers Slaten and Medders? Nope. Good pitching stops good hitting, doesn’t it?

And yeah, Towles was robbed of a homer by an incorrect call by the umps – he hit a ball over the yellow line, where it hit a railing and bounced back on the field. I know I’ve seen that exact same thing happen to other hitters before – they should do something about making sure that any ball hit OVER a yellow line that can hit something and bounce back – that the something they hit is marked too.

Bad news – Cooper has decided to bench Pence in favor of hot hitting Jose Cruz, Jr, because Cheito is a veteran. Yep, his swings at balls around his neck and weak-ass grounders are something to look at, I’ll tell you. I was afraid that this was gonna hapen because of Drayton’s illusion that this team can “win now.” I am HOPING that this order came from Drayton, because if it is Cooper’s own idea to bench a young hitter like Pence for a veteran who really isn’t even good enough any more except as a late inning DR for Clank, rather than let him work out his trouble, then this is just flat out bad news for Bourn (Erstad gonna be put in there) and Towles. Well, maybe not Towles because fact is that Ausmus can’t hit and the pitchers don’t want to throw to Quintero.

Sigh

Looks as if the Astros are going to go the – trade young players for established old guys – route and not allow young players to grow and mature in any rebuilding season. I was afraid of that. Drayton isn’t going to spend the money to get top notch prospects to trade and he sin’t going to spend the money to get top notch FA and it won’t be long before we look like the Giants. I know you can point to how well this strategy worked for YEARS with Pat Gillick and Walt Jocketty, but hey, that was then and this is now and you have to recognise that things change.

This afternoon, it’s Hard Luck Chacon vs Randy Johnson, LHP

4/29/08: All Wright Now

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

I’m gonna have me a good ol time this year with Wesley’s last name.
Wesley was great last night – he came in with bases loaded (3 straight walks by Geary, who couldn’t find the strike zone) and struck out Drew and then got Snyder to GIDP.

Also, Borkowski was equally nails. Came in with 1 out, man on second and struck out Reynolds and Upton. He was equally nails in the 6th and threw 21 pitches over 1.2 innings.

What I would like to know is why Coop didn’t keep him in there for the 7th, especially as the pitcher’s spot wasn’t due up. Seems to me that if you use every bullpen guy for just 1 inning, you are gonna tire them all out.

And, by the way, this is the second inning in a row that Villareal has gotten a 1,2,3 out inning without giving up a 35o’+ fly ball. I HOPE that Dewey has helped him fix whatever has been wrong…

Sampson – sigh. Well, he threw unhittable sinkers in the first 2 innings.
Now, I want to talk about a little concept called “runs allowed.” There is no pitcher who strikes out every single batter. Even in no-hitters, runners reach base. The reason they don’t reach HOME is because the fielders got the balls that were hit.

Let’s take a look at what happened with Sampson:
3rd inning – man on second (and no, NO fielder could have gotten that) and Haren, a good hitting pitcher is up. Sure he could be bunting – that would be handled by infielders. But he hits a ball to right which Pence misplays by coming forward then going back. Run scores. The fielder didn’t get the fly ball and a run scored. That is important.

4th inning – A walk, then a bloop single off the end of the bat that neither Bourn nor Matsui get. Next hitter hits a ball down the LF line that the third baseman doesn’t get. Clank Lee is the LF, so he jogs to the ball. After he picks it up, the throw isn’t hard and the relay throw from Tejada is off-line so the SECOND runner scores. That is lousy fielding, friends. And for those of yall raving about Tejada’s defense because he hits so well, let me remind you that not ONE relay throw has nailed a single runner at the plate. He almost always throws off-line.

5th inning: Byrnes, a fast runner is on second with one out. Jackson singles into center and Bourn MISSES THE CUTOFF MAN and lobs the ball home. Run scores. If you don’t have an arm that is strong AND accurate, you HAVE to hit the cutoff man and Bourn is stronger than Pierre/Damon but he isn’t going to nail runners at home.

I’m counting 3 runs here that scored because of runs allowed by fielders. If this team doesn’t go out there and score 7 or 8 runs a game to compensate, they can’t win. The tag of “best fielding team in the majors” is derived SOLELY from the number of errors, NOT the % of plays made.

Dan Haren is an ace pitcher – I remember him QUITE well from the Cards 2004 team and was surprised they traded him for Mulder, a guy known to have a bad back. The hitters did well to get 3 runs off of him. Matsui has cooled off after a hot start – which is why you shouldn’t judge a ballplayer on his performance over 5 games, and Bourn is still struggling a bit, although it was great to see him finally break his ofer with a strong double. But I’m still really worried about Pence – he shouldn’t be getting a good number of hits of the infield variety – he isn’t The Sainted Willy Taveras – and his timing is still waaaaayyy off. And teams keep throwing pitches low and outside to him and he laid off exactly one of them. I really hope he can make the adjustments he needs to…

Tonight, it’s Jack Cassel and his famous Slow Ball vs Edgar Gonzales. Cassel had better keep that ball off the plate because if he doesn’t, it’s Moehler Time.

4/28/08: Astros Go To Arizona

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Please click here to read a review of the 2008 Diamondbacks written by a very knowledgeable fan named Levski.

Fortunately for the Astros, they won’t have to face Brandon Webb, who outpitched Peavy last night in a 2-1 game, or Micah Owings, who pitches like a #2 starter and hits like a 3-hole hitter.

Tonight, it’s Sampson vs Dan Haren, RHP

Tuesday, Jack Cassel (he best keep that ball out of the middle of the plate or he gonna get killt cuz the Dbax ain’t no Reds) vs Edgar Gonzalez, RHP (unless they wisely decide to start Max Scherzer, but youneverknow)

Wednesday, Chacon vs Randy Johnson, LHP

Lance Berkman Is NL Player Of The Week April 20-27, 2008

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Fat Elvis, I mean Big Puma, gets his very own headline for this one. I think this is like his 4th NL Player Of The Week award.

He’s really an almost unknown outstanding baseball player and he has been since he entered the majors.

My husband said about him that he looks like one of those famous dork nerds the sportswriters all seem to know who live in their mothers’ basements, and sit in their underwear and WRITE about baseball. Not who go on the ball field 8 months of the year and PLAY it every day at an elite level.

Actually, I’ve always been puzzled about that – I mean, who are all these mothers who would let their grown sons wander around their basements? Let alone not even bothering to make them take a bath and get dressed? I don’t know one single woman of any race who would put up with THAT **** even if we HAD basements in Texas. And how on EARTH do all those sportswriters know all those seriously disturbed females didn’t teach their boys to get properly washed and dressed???

but I digress

Anyway, Lance flies waaaaayyy under the mainstream media notice because he doesn’t play for one of their glamour teams, get in bar fights, pork strippers in the champagne room, happily snipe at his teammates behind their backs or beat up his wife.

He’s going to be a lifetime Astro – he’s made it MORE than clear that he would refuse to be traded, and by the end of his career, he is going to be one of the best who ever wore an Astros uniform, even if he doesn’t make it into the Hall.

He isn’t fat, by the way. Or even soft. It’s just that people mistake talkativeness and generosity for lack of fighting spirit. It’s just that they didn’t bother to look past misleading appearances…

4/27/08: Hot Tempers + Iced Bats = Backe Loses Cool + Game

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I hate albert pujols i hate albert pujols i hate albert pujols i hate albert pujols.
OK

That’s out of the way. We’ll get that *(^*! next series!!!!!!!! Teach that &*$%^! to run over our rookie catcher, fluster our ace, distract our highly excitable Backe!!!!

OK

Brandon was nails through 2.2 innings, and then he simply lost control of the strike zone. At that time, he’d thrown 6 balls and 23 strikes, walked none, struck out 3 and given up 2 piddly singles. After that, he threw 29 balls, 25 strikes, gave up 5 walks, 3 hits, 1 K, 1 HR and 4 ER. And the HR was on a 83 MPH fat meatball down the middle that your granma in a wheelchair would have sent over the CF wall 420′ too.

Brandon really didn’t lose it because of all the crotch grabbing of Molina – in fact, he was the last out. He simply didn’t throw strikes off the plate enough and that’s the truth I can’t really blame on Uncle.

However, I do have to say that the Astros bats didn’t show up worth spit.
Let’s check it out:
Game 1: Astros – 6 hits (3 in the 9th) 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 SF, 3 R; Cards – 6 H, 8 BB, 2 R
Game 2: Astros: 5 H, 2 BB, 3 HR, 3 R; Cards – 7 H, 5 BB, 1 SF, 4 R
Game 3: Astros – 4 H, 1 BB, 1 R; Cards – 7 H, 5 BB, 2 HR, 5 R
Totals over 3 games: Astros 15 H, 4 BB, 1 SF,†6 R; Cards: 20H, 18 BB, 1 SF, 11 R

Matsui: 3/12, no BB, 1 RBI
Bourn: 0/8, no BB
Tejada: 3/11, 2 BB, 1 RBI
Berkman: 3/10, 1 BB, 3 RBI
Lee: 1/10, 1 BB, 1 RBI
Pence: 1/9, 1 BB
Blum: 0/4
Loretta: 1/6, 1 RBI
Towles: 0/6
Ausmus: 0/3
Erstad: 2/5
Cruz: 0/1
Backe: 1/2

TLR and Pujols managed to stir up enough trouble to disturb the Astros so that the pitchers didn’t pitch well – Roy wasn’t JUST agitated because of plays not made – and hitters didn’t hit worth spit.
Pence is still looking bad at the plate – his timing is way off and when he did hit the ball, it went straight to the SS and he still can’t hit sliders. Bourn is REALLY off – wonder if the injury is still affecting his timing.

And I keep hearing a lot of talk about how we should sit Bourn and play Erstad. Good grief. If we don’t want Bourn to learn how to hit ML pitching, we might as well trade the guy and get something good while we play an old vet. Cmon, this team is not a great team and is not going All The Way ths year and Bourn and Towles HAVE got to learn to adjust to and hit ML pitching. I don’t want to do the San Fran thing and use old vets as stopgaps every year and let young guys rot.

sigh

Next stop, Arizona to face the best team in the NL…

4/26/08: Lance Berkman Has His 22nd Multi Homer Game

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Well, I HAD to find something good to say, right?

Couple of comments – it makes perfect sense that Roy would need to send a message to a backup catcher hitting less than any of my children’s weight in order to intimidate him. Seeing as how La Rue hit a piddly single off Roy in both April 05 and April 06, I can see how he would need to hit the guy to intimidate him. Yep. ESPECIALLY leading only 1-0 in the 3rd with 2 out already.

Which is, of course, Why Wainwright needed to throw a FB BEHIND Ausmus. Yep. All yall who want him off the team for a backup catcher who can hit better than Ausmus even did LAST year – yall need to see how much the opposition NEEDS to intimidate the guy.
Yep. So THERE.

Oh yeah – and LaRue played in 66 games last year and had a .513 OPS as a backup catcher. The year before, he hit .195, had a .663 OPS. How many great hitting backups do all yall think are floating around out there?

Also, a few words about defense – winning a ballgame means that you have to create more runs than you give up. Losing a ballgame means that you gave up more runs than you created. Walks and homers are entirely the pitcher’s fault (well, sometimes the walks are an ump’s fault too, but let’s not go there for a minute.) Hits? Well, sometimes they are the pitcher’s fault, but fielders not making plays that could be made also allow runners on base AND allow runs to score.
I really wish all those fantasy games would force the players to factor in defense – I really blame fantasy ball for getting so many people to think that defense doesn’t matter one little bit, unless you are talking about errors.

I’m not just talking about Carlos Lee being unable to come up with Schumaker’s hit in the 9th. How about Michael Bourn in the 3rd, making a rare misjudgement of a ball, breaking the wrong way so that Duncan’s ball fell in for a single instead of being an out. Schumaker would certainly have scored on Albert’s double in the gap, but it would have been ONE run in, not 3. Troy Glaus would have been out, and it wouldn’t have been a sac-fly.

We’re talking 2 runs here that scored because one single fell in.

And speaking of fly balls, lack of communication between the OF is what allowed Glaus’ fly to score a run – Bourn was camped, waiting for the ball, and Pence runs into him AND doesn’t have a good angle for the throw. Bad communication leads to a run. Maybe they wouldn’t have thrown out the runner, but there sure would have been a better chance.

And Michael looked VERY rusty today – took the sombrero. Really, only Matsui, with his homer in the first, and Lance, with his 2 long homers, got good wood on the ball.

You notice that with 2 out, 2 on in the top of the 9th and Hunter Pence up, Dave Duncan went out to Wainwright and said a lil something. I’ll tell you what it was – he said – you throw this guy ONLY sliders. If you even THINK about throwing something else, I’ll (edited for language) skin you alive. He can’t hit em, can’t lay off. And sure enough, Pence saw ONLY sliders and proceeded to get himself out. I mean, I luuuvvv the boy, but it won’t be long before the only pitch he ever sees is a slider unless he faces a pitcher who can’t throw one. I have no idea what Sean Berry is doing with him, but he best learn to hit/lay off sliders…

Tomorrow afternoon, it’s Backe vs Lohse.

This year, Brandon is 1-2 in 5 GS: 26 IP – 30 H, 4 HR, 15 BB, 18 K: 4.15 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, .283 BAA. Brandon had that terrible 3 inning 5 ER game against Philly, 2 starts of 5 innings giving up 0 and 1 ER, 2 QS – 6 IP with 2 ER and 7 IP with 3 ER (the bullpen blew them both.)
vs St Louis: 2-1 in 5 GS and 5 in relief: 30.1 IP – 40 H, 6 HR, 14 BB, 16 K: 5.64 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .331 BAA. Unfortunately, his 1 hit no run 8 inning masterpiece in Game 4 NLCS 2004 doesn’t count.

- only 1 Cards hitter has ever hit a homer off Backe – in fact, he’s hit all 3 all three of his hits he has gotten off Backe are homers. You’ll NEVAH guess who that might could be (hint – not Aaron Miles…)

Kyle Lohse, RHP, age 29
Drafted in the 29th round in 96 by the Cubs, traded to the Twins for Rick Aguilera (my GAWD was he still playing???) and Scott Downs. He came up with Minnesota in 01, appeared in 90.1 innings with an 80 ERA+, then pitched around 180-200 innings a year for the next 4 years with ERA+ of 105, 98, 89, 106. In 2006, he had pitched 63 innings, starting and relieving of 63 ERA+ innings, so he was traded to the Reds in the limp bat NL Central. He threw 63 innings of 105 ERA+ and then in 07, he threw 21 decent starts for the Reds of 105 ERA+ ball, and then was traded to Philly at the deadline for minor leaguer Matt Maloney. He had 11 starts and 2 relief appearances over 61 IP with a 98 ERA+ and let me say, in a nice kind way, that he didn’t make a good impression in his post-season relief appearance against the Rox.

This offseason, Scott Boras, his agent, was unable to obtain a high priced multi year contract for him, and the Cards signed him just before ST for 4 mill. By the way, a lot of Astros fans want to know why the Astros fans didn’t try to sign him. Like Jerry Reinsdorf, Drayton McLane won’t do business with Boras (after the Beltran debacle, I don’t blame him.)

Career, he’s 65-74 in 200 GS and 23 in relief: 95 ERA+, 4.77 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, .284 BAA. 1.21 HR/9; 2.82 BB/9; 5.86 K/9 IP.
This year: 2-0 in 5 GS: 28.1 IP – 28 H, 0 HR, 7 BB, 11 K; 2.54 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, .254 BAA† In his 5 games this year: 0 ER/5; 0 ER/7; 2 ER/5.1; 2 ER/7; 4 ER/4 IP
VS the Astros: 1-4 in 4 GS and 1 in relief: 27.1 IP – 28 H, 1 HR, 13 BB, 13 K, 3.95 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and a .280 BAA

4/26/08: If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck, Shawn Chacon Wouldn’t Have No Luck At All

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

Well, it was a 2 hour rain delay before the players could take the field.

Shawn Chacon took the mound and he couldn’t find the strike zone with a guide dog. Walked the first 2 batters in 8 pitches – not even close, by the way – Towles looked like a gymnast out there grabbing balls flying gawd knows where. Dewey RUNS out – he says, like dude, it’s Albert Pujols up and he’s a Bad Motha – whatch yo mouf, so do NOT throw him something good to hit. Oh, and by the way, try your breaker. Albert wasn’t having a good night – he popped out. Chris Duncan fouled off a bunch of pitches at the edge of the strike zone before taking a walk too. Glaus Ks on 3 pitches. Then Adam Kennedy hits a perfect 5-4-3 DP ball right to Blum, who throws it into center field. 2 runs score on the error. Yes, it was a 2 base error, no way in HECK was that a “FC” as the Cards scorer decided in the next inning. BAH. Those were UNEARNED runs.

BAH

Anyway, the next inning, Chacon was a little sharper, giving up a single to Rick Ankiel. He then got Uncle to hit a little dribbler in front of the mound, a perfect 1-6-3, but he slipped and fell as he grabbed the ball (the rain, remember?) and Albert gets a “single” – no error. Brotha, please. He walks Duncan. Bases loaded, 2 outs. And AGAIN he gets Glaus to K.

Two innings, he’s up to 61 pitches.

But you know, he just went out there after that and did an INCREDIBLE job of getting it done. Except for an error by Blum (again!!!!) in the 3rd, a walk to Pujols in the 4th and a single to Braden Looper in the 6th, he didn’t allow another base runner and he went 7 innings. He needed only 8 pitches to mow down the heart of the lineup in the 7th.

AWESOME.

He’s starting this year pitching the best he ever has in the bigs and he now has 5 ND to show for it to accompany his 2.45 ERA.

Astros bats? You mean those limp noodle swishy things they took out there for 8 innings?

LHP Wesley Wright goes out, has a 7 pitch AB battle with righty Aaron Miles (replacing Troy Glaus, who had something in his eye?) before getting him to FO. Then he Ks lefty Kennedy. He walks righty Molina. Then Dewey trots out, asks, so, you gonna get this righty out or we gotta waste another reliever? Wesley says, righty, lefty, alla same to me dude, if you excuse me, here comes the ump, I got a hitter to get out. And he Ks the PH Brian Barton on a nice inside breaker. The HP ump had a VERY generous strike zone, especially inside, by the way

So it’s 2-0. And Jason Isringhausen is in to slam the door. He didn’t blow a single save against the Astros last year, hadn’t since July of 06. Actually, I thought he hadn’t since Jeff Kent Game 5 in 04, but this is why you look things up.

And he firmly grasps the door knob and starts to slam it, striking out Kaz on 3 pitches. But Erstad wedges his big foot in the path, fouling off 4 pitches before sending an outside hanger into left for a single. And up comes Miggy, who has had a couple weak swings and a walk. Izzy throws 3 balls, then a gimme FB, then a perfect slider, then a hanger, which Miggy drives into the RF gap for a triple. Erstad trots home and at least we won’t get shut out.

And, by the way, hanging sliders that get hit is not something that only happens to Brad Lidge when Uncle is hitting, you see what I’m sayin…

Dave Duncan trots out. Izzy, he says, maybe you should walk Berkman, pitch to Lee. Don’t be silly says Izzy – Berkman got a .452 OPS against me. I’m fine. Go away. And he does get Lance out, but unfortunately it is on a sac-fly, which easily scores Matsui. Tie game, 2 outs.

Now what should Izzy do? No one on. Should he walk Lee, who is 5/12 with 2 homers, and, at midnight with a 12 PM game the next day looming and channeling Barry Lamar, who explained that he hits walkoffs because he hates extra innings, and give Carlos first with first open, THEN pitch to Geoff Blum, who has looked pathetic at the plate, let 2 runs score with a stupid throwing error and eager for revenge, currently in a bit of a slump, hitting barely above Mendoza and 1/5 lifetime against him?

Naturally, he pitches to Lee, who sends the first pitch, a mid thigh, mid plate FB 400′ into the LF stands. Lee can hear each footfall as he rounds the bases. Blum grounds out.

(Oh yeah – those of you moaning for the return of Ty Wigginton best remember that he makes Blum look like Scott Rolen before 06, OK???!!! And that Mark Loretta at third makes Mark Loretta at short look like Adam Everett, yes???)

So let’s see if the new, improved Valverde will show up again.
Bourn, groin and all comes in to play center and Erstad goes to left.

Heaven knows I give Cooper a lot of poopoo for his dumb moves, but this was most certainly the smart thing to do AND it would have been the smart thing to do even if Lee had been set to bat in the next inning. Defense matters. It does. Baseball games are often lost on bad defense, just as they are won on good offense.

Ask Chacon.

Anyway, Brendan Ryan, their new SS is up and he takes the 1-2, a hanging splitter to deep short for an infield single. (This is play Everett makes every day and twice on Sunday.) He steals second, then goes to third on a groundout to second. Ankiel strikes out swinging at Ball 2 inside at his knees. Then youknowwho is up. 2 outs, tying run on third and he’s the winning run.

Cooper holds up 4 fingers. ABSOLUTELY the correct move, I don’t care HOW bad Albert has looked all game. Bout time a manager had the sense to give him a lil respect. It’s not that Duncan is Mendoza, he’s the cleanup hitter for a good reason, but he’s no Pujols.

Duncan pops up and Astros win in a comeback in the 9th. AGAIN.

And at noon, it’s Roy Oswalt vs Adam Wainwright.

Interesting that Cards fans, since Game 6 2005, are absolutely convinced that Roy is unbeatable.
Fast trivia question – who does Pujols hit better, Roy or Lidge? Off which pitcher, both regular and post season, has he hit more game winning homers?

Anyway, Roy is 9-5 in 22 GS and 1 in relief ( where Uncle hit a walk-off homer): in 151.2 IP, 151 H, 12 HR, 28 BB, 117 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a .260 BAA.

Adam Wainwright is one of the very VERY few players who John Schuerholz/Bobby Cox have traded or not re-signed, who has done well subsequently.
This year, he’s 2-1 in 4 GS: 29.2 IP (yes, at least 7 IP in each start) 25 H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 22 K: 2.73 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .277 BAA.

It’s supposed to be nice and sunny today, cool in the low 60s.
So I’d better not be hearing nothing bout how the wet grass made the fielders not field…

4/25/08: Jack Cassel Drives In His First ML RBI And Beats Cueto

Friday, April 25th, 2008

I don’t even need to ask Pollie Yannah or Merry Sunn-Shynne to guest blog for THIS game.

Jack Cassel, freshly up from AAA, brought his 86 MPH “fast”ball, his 84 MPH breaker of some sort and his 75 MPH some other kind of breaker (? curve?) and proceeded to get the Reds out for 5 decent innings.

The Reds small-balled in a run in the first after Lance Berkman had long-balled in 2 runs.
Cassel also had a little trouble in the second. After getting Adam Dunn to flyout, Encarnacion singled, Hatteberg doubled him in, Bako singled him in, and Cueto bunted him over, there was a little conference on the mound. Jack, they said, when they say “throw strikes” they mean the kind of strike that isn’t in the middle of the plate. So get this next guy out and we’ll get your runs back.
And sure enough, he Ks ex-Cub Corey Patterson on a high inside breaker and then gets a 1,2,3 3rd and 4th. He gets 2 out in the 5th and then Patterson singles. With Hairston, Jr. up, he proceeds to get his own self out by thinking bout stealing, then stopping dead waaay off first, where he is neatly picked off by Towles.

Kangaroo court gonna fine his butt for that one BIG time – interesting because I remember him doing stuff like that with the Cubs, too.

Cassel had only thrown 68 pitches after Hairston led off with a single in the bottom of the 6th, but I guess it was Cooper’s plan to pull him after he threw 5 innings the minute he let a runner get on.
The meat of the order was coming up, so OK. He had Tim Byrdak and Borkowski and Wesley Wright warming up and ready to go.

In comes Byrdak to face Griffey and Griffey goes down swinging. Then there is a little conference and all I could think is if I see Cooper pulling him and sending in Bork for one righty, then pulling him and sending Wright to get the next lefty, Cooper is gonna go on my all-time poopoo list. But nope, he leaves him in to face Phillips and he gets him out too.

GOOD!!!!! I get tired of the endless lefty-righty stuff. Unless you are talking about a lefty who simply can not get ANY righty, including any AL righty pitcher who has not even picked up a bat since Little League, out, and that lefty is not Ryan Howard with the winning run on, it is time to stop changing pitchers every batter.

And who comes up to lead off the 7th? Byrdak!!!! Instead of using up Lee or Matsui, both of who have been given the day off (good idea, by the way. I think that helps both regulars and bench guys stay fresher.) And Byrdak smashes a ball to deep left – would have been a double for a fast runner, but he smartly decided not to risk sliding into second. No one drove him in, but I like the idea of letting the pitcher bat when you don’t HAVE to use up a PH.

Brocail came in for the 8th and he looked like the usual Brocail – none of this letting batters hit for the cycle stuff.

And here it comes -
VALVERDE PITCHES THE 9TH FOR A 1,2,3 INNING STRIKING OUT TWO!!!!!!!!

Earning, I might could add, a very well deserved Save.

The only non-positive comments I have to make are that Cheito Cruz really looks lost at the plate. No good swings, no well-hit balls. Blum and Loretta didn’t do very well either, but fortunately Pence, Erstad, Miggy and Lance AND the pitchers!!!!! came through.

And speaking of Lance, here are his numbers at the GAB:
136 AB, 49 H, 9 2B, 18 HR, 47 RBI, 28 BB, 18 K, 3 SB, no CS, 41 Runs which is – are you ready – .360/.470/.796/1.266

He hits better at the GAB than at any other away park where he has had at least 100 AB (hey, let’s be fair) – actually, then only away park at which he hits like Adam Everett is Wrigley. So we don’t have to worry about him getting traded to the Cubs.

And speaking of away,
we’re off for a series at Busch.

Tonight, it’s Shawn Chacon vs Braden Looper
This year, Shawn is 0-0 (grrrrrr) over 4 GS – ALL Qs, too: in 26 IP, he has given up 20 H, 2 HR, 11 BB, 14 K and 8 ER: 2.77 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and a .220 BAA.
Braden Looper is 3-1 in 4 GS: in 19 IP, he has given up 23H, 1 HR, 7 BB, 12 K and 12 ER: 5.49 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and a .284 BAA.

Looper pitched 6, 5, 5.2 and 3 innings in his starts. Chacon has pitched 6,6,6 and 8. Looper has 1 QS, Chacon has 4. Yet it is Looper who has 3 wins and Chacon who has none.

And so it is Chacon “who doesn’t know how to win.” BAH, HUMBUG!!!!!!!!!!
I hope they hitters AND bullpen come through for the guy – they owe him.

The Top 10 Cooolest Plays In Baseball

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

The Top 10 Coolest Plays In Baseball

1 – The pitcher drives in the game winning run in a 1-0 game
2 – Straight steal of home. I’m just waiting to see Michael Bourn pull this off.
3 – Tie game, the pitcher, batting with 2 outs, nobody on, gets a hit, starting a rally and scores the winning run, sliding under the tag at home.
4 – The pitcher hits a home run, especially when it is his first home run since Little League.
5 – Some Asian reliever nobody ever heard of hasn’t held a bat in 18 or so years, in his first game in the bigs hits a triple off Randy Johnson IMMEDIATELY after Buck and McCarver go on and on about what a one-sided matchup that is and how the DH roolz or some such.
6 – An inside the parker. Incredibly cooler than a home run involving ANY baseball that leaves the park.
7 – The squeeze. And it is coolest if the batter is not known for his bunting skillz and the guy at 3rd is not a base stealer or known for his speed. And absolutely THE best when pulled off against TLR. And it is triply cooler when TLR thinks that the runner was out and runs out and jumps up and down, swearing at the HP ump and he gets hisself tossed.
8 – The triple, especially the kind where it is usually a double, but the runner juuuuuuuust gets in under the tag.
9 – The double steal. Also the runner stealing second, third AND home in the same inning against the same pitcher. Not sure if even Rickey did that.
10 – The never gonna happen but how I would LUUUVVV to see it – Frank Thomas steals a base because the pitcher and catcher both too busy laughing to throw him out.

You notice that 4 of those involve the pitcher. This is because the DH is an abomination against the Church of Baseball and therefore, the only POSSIBLE Top 10 play involving a DH would have to be a tie game in which a team’s bullpen has been exhausted and one of the starting pitchers has to bat in the DH spot because there are no more position players and the DH strained some muscle lifting up his bat/walking to the plate and the pitcher, trying to remember which end of the bat to hold seeing as how he hasn’t touched one of them icky things, being that they only use the DH in HS and college and the minors, hits the game winning home run off the 5th OF, who was sent in to pitch the bottom of the 27th.

You notice I didn’t mention walk-off home runs. It is because they are waaaaayyy to common and it is hard to get excited over the coolness of a walk-off homer.

Unless, of course, it is hit by Chris Burke in the bottom of the 18th clinching the NLDS and giving Roger Clemens his first win in relief in over 20 years.