Sorry I didn’t get anything posted last night.
Husband took me to the game to make up for Thursday (ahem) and the game didn’t end until like 10:30 and we went out afterward and anyhow, I was too tired for a recap.
The real story of the game was the HP ump’s erratic strike zone. Well, let’s say that he called low pitches and outside pitches on Astros batters strikes – I mean, he even had Lance Berkman, who almost never complains to umps, saying a lil somethin somethin.
The first 3 innings were pretty boring – neither Hampton nor Suppan had what you might could call good stuff and the most exciting play was Michael Bourn’s AWESOME catch of Mike Cameron’s 400 something foot drive to Tal’s Hill. And Bourn stealing second in the second. Kendall’s arm has gone limp, looks like to me.
Hampton hung a slider to Prince and he did what ML hitters do to hanging sliders. And in the bottom of the 4th, the Astros got lucky. Suppan walked Lance, then Carlos hit a ball to the 99 flag and there we were, up 2-1. The crowd, the biggest I’ve seen since Opening Day, then REALLY got into the ball game. Suppan proceded to get the next 2 outs, and then got Blum to groundout to third. Blum did NOT exactly hustle down the line, but Hall’s throw was a little offl line and Prince couldn’t come up with it. Then Suppan walked IRod (of ALL people) and Hampton knocked in Lance with a single up the middle (crowd SERIOUSLY luuuuvvvved that) and it’s 3-1 Astros. Nothing cooler than pitchers knocking in runs.
Hampy, feeling confident, got an easy 1,2,3 and then Michael Bourn led off with a 410′ homer OVER the RF bullpen. Yes, you read that right. Michael Bourn. The crowd was VERY appreciative, but you best believe there are more than a few fans grumbling that he shouldn’t be hitting home runs, just hitting the ball on the ground.
If you see a fat hanger mid thigh mid plate you SHOULD hit it out. Heck even Roy hit one out a few years back and you didn’t see folks grousing that he should have just bunted.
In the top of the 6th, Cameron broke up the DP (yeh, he LIKEY hitting the other guy, but fortunately, Kaz was OK) and Hall, the next batter hit a nice fat FB into the Crawford Boxes with 2 on and there went the ballgame.
Well, not quite.
From then on, it was the Battle Of The Relievers and in the end, their relievers were just bettern ours as both Hawkins and Valverde gave up 2 runs each.
The highlight of the game, however, was the, um, uh, interesting discussion between Pudge and the HP ump when he called a pitch to Mike Cameron a ball which he had called a strike to Astros hitters all night. I believe Pudge said something like – excuse me please Mr. Umpire Sir. I am quite certain that Jose Valverde would be more than willing to let you borrow his glasses as you seem to be struggling to identify pitches. And then the ump, uh, took umbrage and next thing you know, Pudge was yelling that he was just trying to help and it just might could be that he put it in slightly stronger words, couldn’t see their lips, but Hawkins, who is not exactly small, and Dave Clark came in between the angry catcher and the hot ump. Coop came running out and explained that his catcher just might could have not clearly expressed the nature of his unhappiness and Coop got the ol heave ho too.
So out went Pudge and in came Towles, who had just arrived from RoundRock, to finish up the game. So Cameron singles, Hardy walks (on another one of those questionable calls) and the fans boo. VERY loudly. The crowd is now the most into the game I have seen since the playoffs. Really. And there were maybe 28K people actually in the stands and it was LOUD with the roof closed.
Oh yeah. the roof was closed because it was nasty out and the wind was a GOOD 25-30 MPH. And as you’ve noticed, it didn’t exactly stop baseballs from flying.
Where was I? Oh yeah. So Hawkins gave up 2 runs and it was Crew 6 – Astros 4. In comes Coffey, their closer in absentia (Trevor Time on the DL) andhe got 2 easy outs, then Blum hit a GR double down the LF line, then Towles knocked him in with a single over the SS. Erstad, who has looked like Jason Smith with the bat, managed to beat out an IF single that went just over the pitcher’s mound. Kaz then hit an opposite field double to the LF corner and it’s Stros 7 – Crew 6.
So it’s Valverde time. But I guess that leg wasn’t ready because he had trouble finding the strike zone (and for once, it wasn’t the ump’s fault) and the first time he threw a strike, Hart hit it above the LF bullpen but juuuuust below the yellow line. Braun grounded out to Blum, who had exactly enough time to make the throw to Lance and Hart alertly went to third. THAT is what is called good baserunning. Hart is a VERY good baseball player. Interesting that the Brewers didn’t think much of him and were gonna use him as a PH/DR even after it was clear that he should be a full time player and he only got the job because they needed to clear salary by getting rid of Jenkins. He’s much better than a couple of their highly touted guys, suck as Rickie Weeks.
but I digress
Fielder then fouls off a couple, then sends a belt high inner third FB over the Administaff sign just to the left of the RF foul pole. Maybe 340′ but it got the job done. Unfortunately.
Crowd groans because it is now Crew 8 – Stros 7. About a third of the crowd begins to file out. But the game is NOT over. Nosirree. Because the Crew sends out Carlos Villanueva, who the Stros have historically pounded and there is HOPE. (Even Husband isn’t dumb enough to suggest we beat the traffic.)
So he hits Lance. Then Romero (acting manager) sends up Keppinger and has a .400 something hitter SAC BUNT. You talk about a stupid STUPID waste of an out. Why not send up Roy Oswalt to bunt, for goodness sakes? WHY get rid of your best pinch hitter? DUMBDUMBDUMB. Then Miggy pops up to center and it’s 2 outs. I feel Husband sneaking a look at me. But then Pence reaches on error, the ball goes flying and Berkman goes to third. Blum fouls off one, then takes a called strike, then miracles of miracles, Kendall doesn’t catch strike 3 – it’s a passed ball, Lance scores. Tie game. Blum is then IBB and Towles runs the count to 3-2 (and 2 is another one of those questionable strike calls) and then he grounds out. Which is a shame, because if he had won this game for the Astros, it would be a LOT harder for Coop to send him back down, where he’s hitting .344.
So now, Geary and the leftys are the only ones left. And in comes Geary to pitch the 10th and he gives up a single to the pitcher, Villanueva, but gets the others out on 10 pitches.
Then Astros are up!!! Erstad Ks on a ball in the dirt. Matsui Ks. Bourn hits a double to the RF corner, so Lance is IBB. And no, I don’t blame Macha one bit because you never know when a slumping excellent hitter is gonna come out of his slump. Keppinger is walked on 4 pitches.
Macha pulls Villanueva and sends in a guy I don’t remember seeing – Mark DiFelice, a righty. He gets Miggy, with bases loaded, to popout to center again. Miggy had a BAD game. Ofer 6 and stranded 6 guys.
Geary comes back out and gives up a double to Hart, who then comes around to score on Braun’s single. He IBB Prince, walks Cameron (poor guy – he doesn’t get to run into anybody) then Ks Hardy and gets Hall to GIDP.
Crew 9 – Astros 8
Di Felice comes back. Pence singles (NOW he gets a hit???!!!) then Smith is sent up to bunt. He can’t even do THAT, bunting 2 foul and then popping up. One more time – the manager should be sending up someone who actually CAN bunt – like a pitcher!!!! He then Ks Towles, who again went to 3-2, on a NASTY slider and then gets Erstad swinging on a pitch low and inside.
Bourn, who was supposed to be this terrible weakness of the team, has actually been VERY good with bat, glove and feet.
The bullpen, which was supposed to be the strength, has, um, not been good. Brocail is supposed to be back today and I guess Fulchino will be sent down, but he hasn’t exactly been the problem. Byrdak, Hawkins, Geary and Valverde have been.
This afternoon, it’s Russ Ortiz vs Manny Parra.
I just hope their guys are as tired as ours.