The last baseball game of the year here at home, another meaningless game, except for Wandy, my favorite Astro, on the mound, but I said to myself, it IS Wandy and after all, you won’t be able to go to another baseball game until next April, so out we went – Brother and the kids and me. Husband was SUPPOSED to go, but he said – Baby, I’m too tired. I should have been suspiscious, but I was, as usual, in a hurry as kids, as usual, excel at lollygagging. I always make them eat and drink right before we go to the park (to slightly decrease the pointless whining for junk food and soda) and Da Bull only wanted one helping of pork fried rice – I SHOULD have been suspiscious, but was in too much of a hurry to try to get to the Box in time for Strike 1.
We even found an empty parking space close up, and I knew that we wouldn’t have a full house, and in fact, as we went through the turnstiles and Stubbs swung at Strike 1, I guess I wasn’t real too surprised at how few people were wandering around ground level. We got to our seats just as Janish singled (he reminds me of Adam Everett, who I miss, especially as Miggy has significantly lost range this year) and it seemed to me that the Box was maybe half full. I don’t CARE what the tickets sold number is, there were amybe 21K people actually THERE.
Anyway, Votto chopped a ball to right and Maysonet, quick as a cat made a great play to his right to get Janish sliding into second. I was frantically scribbling the lineup and pitch counts into my scorebook, or else I might could have noticed that the cotton candy guy was passing by without the usual whines from my kids…
Cueto didn’t seem to have good stuff, but as usual, our guys believe that only sissies and weaklings don’t swing often and early. Lance did walk on 5 straight balls, but then Carlos grounded out on the next pitch. One of those perfect GIDP hits right to short, only unfortunately there were already 2 outs.
Wandy ran into trouble in the second, mostly because the ump called a LOT of strikes as balls. He gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases with 1 out, but then got the pitcher out on 4 wildly swinging strikes and then got Stubbs to groundout to third. 26 pitches to the opposition with 6 batters and that, my friends, is the difference between the Astros hitters and the hitters on other ML teams – Astros hitters just WON’T take pitches or try to foul them off or work counts. And the guys who come up from the minors and do that are derided for not being “aggressive” enough.
In the bottom of the second, with 2 out, Maysonet reached on a 2 base throwing error, then went to third on a WP. After taking 2 pitches out of the strike zone, Quintero swung at ball 3 and flew out.
A TRUE Astro.
Wandy got 1,2,3 in the 3rd – he adjusted to the postage stamp strike zone pretty well, with a grounder, a single and a GIDP. And then, guess he figured SOMEbody had to get a hit, so he went up to bat and singled. Bourn singled to left, Miggy drew his 14th walk of the year (WHOA!!! He still has a 2:1 GIDP to BB ratio though, so I don’t mind so much) and Lance comes up with bases loaded, no out. A Perfect GIDP opportunity, wouldn’t you say? But noooooo, he hits Ball 4 – a slow roller to short and it’s only an RBI FC. Then Clank is up and it’s time for him to pad his GIDP totals, but he grounds out to 3rd – a bit of a tough play, Bourn scores and Lance is on second. Pence strikes out again.
Astros lead 2-0.
Surely this will be enough for the Wand-Man, seeing as how he probably ain’t gonna get no mo from THIS gang.
And he comes back out there and he got the curve goin ON. The boy has GOT to have the best curveball in the NL and they swung and swung and swung but they just could NOT hit it. 1,2,3 out. Quintero got a changeup juuuust over the wall into the Crawford Boxes to make it 3-0, then Wandy came back and struck out the side – well, except for a liner to short that Miggy let tip off his glove which went for a single instead of the error that it was.
Then stuff happened.
My son, who had been awfully quiet, suddenly says to me – Ida feeeeeeeel good. Oh no. I put my hand on his forehead and sure nuff, he’s burning up. And he’s looking kind of pale. Oh no. And Little Girl pipes up – Ida feel good too. Groan. There goes the ballgame. So I know what the kinda pale look means so I get kidss to the rest room juuuuust in time and by the time we’re leaving, Wandy has managed to get through the 6th, giving up only 2 runs because, for some reason I don’t understand, Dusty Baker doesn’t pinch hit for the pitcher with men on first and third, 2 out.
Fine with me – it’s nice when the OTHER team’s manager does something dumb, for a change.
So for tonight, Wandy goes 6 innings, gives up 9 hits (really 8 hits and an error that SHOULD have been charged to Miggy – 7 singles and a double and only 1 hard hit baseball), 1 walk and 9 K (8 swinging, 7 on curves). Wandy threw 68 strikes, with 22 swing and misses and 3 more foul tips. That is amazing, a 35% swing and miss rate, and 10% is considered good.
I’ve finally gotten a few minutes to check the rewind. You see, when I got home, Husband was taking a nap???!!! and wasn’t really hungry for dinner. Oh no. Sick kids are bad, but sick men are THE worst. Wonder if it is the same virus that is going around the Astros clubhouse…
In the bottom of the 6th, Lee flew out, then Pence singled, then Cueto completely lost the strike zone and walked Blum then Maysonet on 9 pitches. Quintero came up with bases loaded, one out. So naturally he swings at the first pitch, which is up near his neck. Then he swings at the second pitch which is inside and in the dirt, then he swings at the next pitch and does the Astros thing – yes, GIDP!!!!
And, let me not forget to welcome Edwin Maysonet to the GIDP club!!! Yes, he got his very first of the year in the bottom of the 8th!!! Champagne all around!!!!! The stros are now up to #149 on the year and only need 12 over the next 7 games to break the record (the NL record – the other league really is the far superior league when it comes to GIDPs, unfortunately – won’t nobody ever get near Jim Ed Rice’s record shattering 36 – the boy led the league for FOUR straight years – or the 07 Oakland A’s 191.)
Fulchino, Hawkins and Valverde all pitch scoreless innings and Cueto came 2/3 of an inning from a complete game. You notice this – opposing pitcher only needs 114 pitches to throw a CG against the Astros – is a frequent occurrence.
Let’s take a look at how many pitches the Astros hitters took tonight:
1st: 13 pitches: 4 hitters; 2nd: 13: 4; 3rd: 19: 6; 4th: 13: 4; 5th: 8: 3; 6th: 17: 5; 7th: 19: 4; 8th: 13: 4. This works out to 114 total pitches over 34 batters, which is 3.3 pitches/PA. Now, the Astros had 5 walks, so if you subtract those 20 pitches and 5 PA, you will see that non-walk PA’s required only 3.2 pitches.
You will notice that Astros hitters went to 3-2 counts only twice, but Reds hitters went to 3-2 counts FOUR times on Wandy and twice more on the 3 relievers.
I think that this is part of the Astros culture. I notice that when the young guys FIRST come up from AAA, they don’t just swing away or swing at crap – they look at pitches and fake pitches and foul them off. After they’ve been here a while, they stop being selective, they stop fouling pitches off. It is the bad influence of the Old Guys – only Berkman seems immune as he’s seeing the same 3.89 pitches/PA that he has seen for the past 5 years.
It’s time for a new hitting coach and time for the culture to change from the same – gotta swing early and often and refuse to take bad pitches, or even unhittable strikes.
I also am not thrilled that Clark has reverted to the old – pull Clank Lee in the 9th and put Lead Glove Michaels in. I also found out that the shocking reason that Maysonet was actually allowed to play a game is that apparently, Kaz has flu-like symptoms. Figures.
Clark hasn’t done one single thing to lead me to believe that he is any different whatsoever from Cooper. Not ONE thing.
We’re off to Philly, where our starting pitchers will be Yorman Bazardo(9.55 ERA/2.08 WHIP), Wilton Lopez (8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP), Brian Moehler (5.21 ERA/1.52 WHIP) and Felipe Paulino (5.93 ERA as starter/1.54 WHIP).
Bet their hitters are moaning with anticipation.