Archive for September, 2009

9/29/09: Dave Clark, Cecil Cooper = Same Guy

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Well, tonight’s game showed why I wrote “Coop” in last night’s entry when I should have written “Clark.” Second verse, same as the first.

He pulls Bourn because we’re facing a lefty – nevermind that Bourn hits leftys VERY well and puts Jason Michaels in center – might as well put Clank in center. He won’t let Chris Johnson, Maysonet or Manzella start, but hey, a pinch hitter? Yeah, let’s goooooooooo.

Then, in the SECOND inning, he has men on first and second, NO out, and he has Kepp at bat. Keppinger is hitting .330/.379/.468/.847 and he has him freaking sac bunt??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? So that Jason Freaking Michaels, hitting .260/..315/.440/.745 can hit??? Sure his lifetime OPS vs leftys is .799, but Kepp’s is .899!!!

Too stupid. Just absolutely TOO stupid. So you give up an out, depend on a guy who is doing crappy, then have him followed by a guy who is hitting a buck something then the AA pitcher, who doesn’t hit at all. SO absolutely FREAKING stupid I couldn’t believe it. Coop all over again. Naturally, neither runs scores, and yes, that was partly due to the HP ump’s complete inability to call a strike a strike or a ball a ball (and there were multiple errors for both sides, to be honest.)

And I haven’t gotten near mentioning his forgetting the double switch when Fulchino had to relieve the injured Paronto, who was pitching well, for once. And if he didn’t forget, then he is doing the Coop thing of having as many pitchers as possible pitch in a single game, unless the starter goes 7 innings and he can just plug in Hawkins and Valverde.

BAH

Three strikes and Clark is O U T.

And of course, Michaels costs Lopez his first run by not getting anywheres near a ball hit to center which Bourn would have been all OVAH, allowing the first run to score.

And actually, Lopez wasn’t near as bad as I thought he’d be.

He got through the first 2 innings on 22 pitches, then gave up a run by walking the #8 guy, who was sac-bunted to second, then having Michaels not get near a fly ball to center. The 4th was one of those unfortunate things – gave up one of those squiggly IF hits to 3rd when Ryan Howard hit a ball with a check swing, and of course a shift is on, then a single up the middle that took one of those funny bounces on the IF, then a walk. No outs, bases loaded and he hangs a slider and when any pitcher, not just Lidge hangs a slider, the hitter will go all Pujols on its ass.

So Astros are down 5-1 and there’s the ballgame.

Lopez gets the next 2 outs, then gives up a single to Rollins, and then will all those leftys coming up, Clark pulls him and sends up Wesley Wright, who gets Victorino.

Wesley did fine with Utley and Howard and “walked” Ibanez and I have that in quotes because Ball 2 and 4 were right in the middle of the freaking strike zone (remember what I said about the ump) and then Werth hit a good pitch, a low outside FB over the fence.

The Astros left men on base all night. In the second – well, that was Clark’s eff-up. There were 2 on for the pitcher in the 4th (but Michaels and struck out and Kepp grounded out without advancing the leadoff hitter.) 2 were left in the 5th when Pence flied out (almost made it out) and Keppinger struck out.

And Carlos and Pence BOTH struck out in the 9th with the tying runs on base – and Carlos swung at a pitch at his neck, too.

sigh

Tomorrow, it’s Pedro vs Brian Moehler

Wonder who’s gonna win THAT one…

8/28/09: Miggy Tejada Supports Bazardo As He Outpitches Hamels

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Yorman Bazardo outpitched Cole Hamels.

I can’t believe I am writing that, but it is true. So I am gonna say it again: Yorman Bazardo outpitched Cole Hamels.

Yorman threw 5.2 innings, gave up only TWO hits – a leadoff single to Rollins (which led to a run) and a double to Victorino which SHOULD have been an out, but it bounced off the first base bag and took a bad hop and Berkman couldn’t get it (and it was a BAD night for Berkman all around, except for the walks…) And that odd hop eventually led to a run because Utley grounded out and Victorino went to third and then, with Howard at bat, Victorino, by dancing down the baseline, enticed Bazardo into a balk and there was his second run. He freaked out, walked Howard, and Clark pulled him at only 76 pitches with the Astros leading 3-2. He also walked 4 and struck out 4.

Bourn went 2-5, stole a base which sparked the Astros 5 run 7th with 2 out, none on. He also made an outstanding catch on Ibanez’ FB in the 7th. Of course, Bourn makes so many outstanding catches, I think something is wrong with him if he doesn’t make a catch. But just the same, he’s still not as good a CF as Adam Everett was a SS and yet the media LUUUUVVVVS Michael and ignored Adam. Batting Average matters – they hardly noticed Michael last year either…

Miggy had a great night – went 4-5, drove in 1 and scored 3. No GIDPs, and, in fact, no ground balls at all. And no bad throws or crappy plays.

Lance – had 3 walks, 1 intentional. Besides the unfortunate “double” off the bag, he got caught stealing second and he failed to score a run because he pulled a Jeremy Giambi and didn’t do his usual patented slide and touch the bag with his hand when the catcher blocked the plate AND he didn’t try to evade the tag long enough to allow the other runners to advance. Just a bad night. Coop pulled him in the 7th and sent in Aaron Boone (and with men on first and second and 1 out – and yes, the Astros were leading 8-2 at that time, but this IS Philly and you can’t assume a team like this can’t come back.)

Carlos Lee went 2 fer 5, got his 101st RBI, giving him his 7th straight 100 RBI season when he drove in 2 in the 7th – Lance was IBB, Hamels pulled, and righty Tyler Walker sent in to get him out – FAIL.

Pence went 2-4 with a walk, scored 1 and drove in 1 (shoulda been 2, but Lance had that complete and total brain fart at the plate.)

Keppinger went 3 fer 5 with 2 RBIs, Kaz went 1-4 with 2 RBIs and even JR Towles managed an IF single (but he was in good company – it was the 4th IF single of the game and, in fact, of the Astros 15 hits, only 2 weren’t singles and they were doubles AND Carlos’ was the only one really well hit) and his batting average is still above MY weight.

One of the good things about this game is that Astros hitters went to SEVEN 3-2 counts, which is absolutely incredible for these guys. AND the Phils only went to four 3-2 counts.

Brocail mopped up the 9th inning. He gave up a single, then an easy grounder to second and Kaz didn’t even try to turn the DP or get the lead runner. Brocail was NOT happy. He glared at Miggy and Kaz laughing and joking about it. Then Feliz hit a liner straight at Matsui, which he drops. Now Brocail is STEAMING mad and yelling non-family friendly kinds of words. Kaz doesn’t laugh this time – Brocail is easily twice his size. And THIS time, when the pinch hitter hits a grounder straight to Kaz, he and Miggy do it right and get the 4-6-3 to end the game.

Astros can’t beat the crappy Reds, but they beat Cole Hamels and the Phils by 6 runs. It’s baseball and you REALLY neverknow.

It’s Wilton Lopez vs JA Happ, LHP. Happ is a tough lefty who has a 2.79 ERA/1.20 WHIP – only 7.5H/9 IP, 1 HR/9 IP, 3 BB/9 IP and 6.3 K/9.

Wilton Lopez, unlike Bazardo, wasn’t even a good minor leaguer – never went above AA (well, 1 bad inning in AAA) and this year, started 15 games and relieved in 14 over 110 innings: 10.5 H/9, 0.7 HR/9, 1.2 BB/9 IP and only 5.6 K/9 and a 4.73 ERA/1.32 WHIP.

Bazardo beating Hamels really was kind of miraculous – and Wilton Lopez beating JA Happ would be, well, almost beyond credulity. But it IS baseball and when it comes to baseball, youneverknow…

#51 Wandy Rodriguez Wins His 51st ML Game And The Astros Have A Wining Record At Home For 2009

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

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.

BAH

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.

9/27/09: Paulino Pitches Badly. Miggy Goes 4/4 But Astros Lose To The Reds Again

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

It didn’t start off so badly. Paulino got through the first inning on 12 pitches, giving up only a double to the LF bullpen to Votto.

Then Bourn led off with a single and promptly stole second. Miggy hit a single through the 5.5 hole. And there we are, men on first and third, no outs, Berkman and Lee coming up. What could be better, right? Well, Lance hits a bullet to first, Votto throws home, catches Bourn in a rundown. Bourn is catching Bad Baserunning from Pence. But anyway, we have men on first and second, 1 out, surely Clank will smell those RBIs, right?

HECK, no. He smells the GIDP record and obliges with a nice 6-4-3.

Now mind, the Astros are NOT facing some ace pitcher, they are facing Justin Lehr, the #5 guy and his 5 something ERA. Man, I am TIRED of this. And, as usual, we put the usual team of tired Old Guys out there. Don’t ask me why. Not that any of the rooks would do much of anything after weeks of sitting on their dead asses, seeing if they can understand the best ways of refusing to look at any pitches, swinging at crap and grounding into double plays.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Top of the second, Paulino trots back out. He gets Bruce out on an easy grounder, then gives up a single to Juan Francisco (he’s a rookie. Yes, that’s right. Looks as if Dusty Baker got over the hatred of playing rookies which defined his career as Giants and Cubs manager. He’s even playing Drew Stubbs over Willy Taveras, preferring the better player, even though he isn’t oozing veteran goodness.) Then he hangs a slider to slugger Laynce Nix, who swats it into the upper deck in right.

Reds 2 Astros 0

I’m wondering right about now if the probablilty of the Astros coming back to win this game is any greater than the probability that Brad Ausmus will call me in the next 5 minutes to tell me I am the hottest chick EVAH.

Where was I? Oh yeah. So with 1 out, Corky Miller singles (remember him? He’s the guy the Reds refused to trade to the Mariners all those years ago for Junior Griffey because they were sure Corky was gonna be the next Johnny Bench, or something – him and Pokey Reese, the next Joe Morgan…) then the pitcher bunts to Berkman, who throws out Miller, who just might could run slower than my 6 year old. Stubbs walks, then Janish hits a bullet to Blum, who makes a great scoop and throw to just barely get him at first.

Bad.

BADBADBADBADDDD pitching. He’s lucky to have escaped with only 2 runs being given up. He doesn’t seem to have particularly good control of the FB or the slider.

Hunter Pence hits a FB over the Conoco Pump in the bottom of the second to draw the score to 2-1.

But that is about as good as it gets. Paulino goes to 1-2 on Votto, but then Quintero keeps calling for Paulino to throw pitches outside the strike zone – 3 of them, in fact, and Votto merely stares disdainfully at them and trots down to first. Then Phillips singles to left. Then Bruce is up, goes to 2-1, then AGAIN Quintero calls for pitches outside the strike zone. And Bruce doesn’t so much as twitch until he trots down to first.

Bases loaded, no outs.

I’m shaking my head as I look at Husband, and he’s shaking his head, too. Paulino goes to 1-2 on Francisco (the rookie – did I mention that Dusty Baker is playing 2 rookies instead of Old Guys) and then throws a low FB, mid calf, which Francisco hits into right for a 2 run single. Nix hits a sac-fly to left. Clank makes a terrible throw – the guy has the limpest arm in the NL OF, on par with Juan Pierre. So much for large muscles = strong throwing arm. Miller GIDP.

Reds 5 Astros 1

This game is OVAH. And Clark is not about to pull the Old Guys and send in the rookies, no sirree. Husband and Brother are very VERY carefully not saying anything. I sigh, get up, tell them to go ahead and watch the stupid football game and I’m taking the youngest kids over to my girlfriend’s house for a clothes exchange. I’m not missing anything and I can fast forward through the remainder of the carnage when I get back home.

And what did I miss?

Well, Paulino struck out the side in the 4th. Votto led off the 5th with a double to left – Clank husteled to get it, for once, but as I said, he has a terrible arm and Votto beats the throw easily. Phillips flies out to deep center and Votto goes to third. Bruce hits a double, scoring Votto, Francisco grounds out, then Dave Clark, channelling Cooper, decided to IBB Nix and have Paulino pitch to Miller. BAD idea, as Paulino struggles to find the strike zone, and when he does, throws a fat one right down the middle and Miller hits a double to the bullpen.

Miggy hits a solo homer. pinch hitter Maysonet singles (yeah, he deserves to be benched, fans don’t want to watch his sorry ass hit .300, play great defense and take pitches), Bourn walks, Miggy singles Maysonet in, then Lance GIDP and Bourn scores. WAY TO GO LANCE!!! Clank grounds out – and I want yall to know that it would have  definitely been a GIDP ball had Lance disappointed the crowd by walking.

Brocail throws a 1,2,3 6th, Byrdak throws a 1,2,3 7th – he did give up a walk, but then picked the runner off, Gervacio strikes out the side in the 8th, giving up a double to PH Kevin Barker (another rookie – what is going on there???!!!) and Fulchino gives up a 2 run homer to Bruce in the 9th.

In the 8th, Miggy doubles, Lance singles. So we have men on first and third, no out again. Isn’t that WONderful? No, because Clank satrikes out swinging at a pitch way out of the strike zone, Blum misses out on his GIDP (because Joey Votto didn’t step on the bag, or Blum woulda had his 10th of the year nailed. Blum yelled at the ump, but the call stuck and he was safe, nothing he could do.) But then Pence grounded out.

Astros lose 10-4 again.

It’s Wandy vs Johnny Cueto tomorrow afternoon for the final home game of the season.

Yes, I’m going.

What can I say? I would really REALLY like to see Wandy win the last home game and I would like to see the Old Guys like, you know, TRY to win.

But I’m not holding my breath. Will be interesting to see if anyone besides me is wearing a Wandy shirt or jersey…

9/26/09: Miguel Tejada’s Noodle Arm Exacerbates Brian Moehler’s Lousy Pitching

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Moehler wasn’t exactly sharp in the first, needing 6 pitches to K Stubbs, 6 pitches to get Janish to FO to Bourn, throwing 6 pitches to Votto before he golfed an inside sinker into the RF stands.

He was even less sharp in the second – struck out Bruce, then gave up consecutive singles before getting Hannigan to ground out. Then with men on second and third, he got 2 quick strikes on the pitcher, then just could NOT throw another strike, and walked him.

Then stuff happened. Stubbs grounded to short and Miggy, instead of throwing to second – and the slow pitcher running, made a weak throw to first and the very fast Stubbs beat the throw. THAT one was on Miggy – he SHOULD have gotten the out. Moehler gave up another RBI single to left to Janish, then Joey Votto hit a double to center. Miggy was the cutoff man, and his throw to home was simply terrible – hit the dirt way in front of Coste and skipped under him and Janish, who SHOULD have been a dead duck, scored. Actually, NONE of those runs would have scored had Miggy thrown to the right base with bases loaded.

You know, we are playing the 4th place team, nothing is on the line. We can’t play the young guys WHY???

Kaz homers in the bottom of the inning, but the Astros are already losing 6-1 and really, the game is OVAH. We can’t pull the Old Guys and put in the rookies, now, WHY???

In the top of the third, Jay Bruce hits a ball softly to shallow left – Clank ambles over to get it, but Bruce is barrelling into second and Clank’s weakass throw is waaaay offline, as usual. Remember Biggio playing left? Yeah, I’m trying to forget it, too.

I don’t know whether or not Dave Clark has any say over who plays, but unless he has been specifically instructed not to play Johnson, Manzella or Maysonet, his refusal to play them takes himself off my future Astros manager list.

I’m soooooo tired of this.

Wesley Wright came in to rescue Moehler in the top of the third with men on first and third, 1 out, and got a 5-4-3 GIDP. He pitched 2 more innings, giving up a solo homer and 2 singles, but no other runs. He’s going to winter ball to see if he can stretch himself into starting. I guess he’d be the #5 guy, taking Moehler’s place.

Speaking, by the way of starting, the Astros have shut down Bud Norris for the rest of the year, a sensible precaution, for once. And also, Moehler needs knee surgery – wonder if that why he had such a lousy night.

Wilton Lopez, who will apparently take Norris’ next start, pitched the 6th and 7th. He’s not very good. To be nice about it. He gave up 2 singles, then, with men on first and second, got a popup to short. Stubbs was caught off second, but Miggy made such a bad throw to Kaz from only 15′ away that Stubbs was able to scramble back easily. Only getting one out instead of 2 made the difference in the inning and a 2 run single scored both runners after Lopez got the second out.

I keep hearing all these Astros fans wanting us to re-sign Miggy to play 3rd – I don’t THINK so – he won’t be able to throw almost anyone out.

Any good news?

Batting righty, Lance hit a homer over the tracks – the roof was open tonight.

Chad Paronto pitched his first scoreless 1,2,3 inning. Byrdak pitched a scoreless inning, and

Th-th-th-that’s all folks.

9/24/09: Bud Norris Breaks Losing Streak As Astros Defeat John Smoltz For The First Time In Over 10 Years

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

And no, I have no idea when the Astros last defeated Smoltz, but it was 1998 or earlier as the Yahoo game logs only go back to ’99. And the Astros have never defeated the guy in the postseason. EVER.

Sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way you think they will. Bud Norris didn’t have great control of the strike zone and seemed to overthrow at least half of the fastballs he threw. But his slider slid enough that he managed to get himself out of trouble.

He threw 6 innings, gave up 6 singles (2 of them infield hits) and 2 walks, went to 3-2 counts 5 times, went to 3-0 once, stranded men on first and second in the first 3 innings, but turned his luck around when Smoltz bunt grounded into a 3-6-4 DP in the 4th (Lance was absolutely NAILS on defense tonight.) He got a quick 1,2,3 out on Schumaker, Rasmus and Uncle in the 5th and got a 1,2,3 out in the 6th when DeRosa GIDP 6-4-3 in the 6th.

Smoltz seemed to have better stuff – gave up 2 doubles, 3 singles, no walks and 5 K, and, in fact, for the first couple of innings, I had the uneasy feeling that the Astros were going to get no-hit, but Kaz Matsui, his nemesis (he’s 13/25, can you believe it???) doubled to left, then Bud Norris laid a bunt single just barely fair inside the 3B line and it was men on first and third, 1 out. Bourn took Smoltz to a 3-2 count, but then struck out swinging on a pitch waaaay inside (he’s doing too much of that, too) and then Miggy, who had a great night, drove Kaz home.

Bud held onto that 1 run lead, too. That boy is gonna be all right. He seems to have gotten a second wind after sitting out for a start a few weeks back.

The Astros tacked on a second run when Miggy doubled, went to 3rd on a Berkman flyout and then came home on Carlos’s sac-fly. Carlos was swinging at all KINDS of crap out of the zone and fouling it off and actually hit the ball on the only pitch he saw in the zone.

Pence and Bourn were the only ones who went to 3-2 counts and they each did so twice.

In fact, Bourn worked a walk against a lefty in the second of those 3-2 counts and the came around to score on a single from Carlos again. He’s smellin that 100th RBI, I can tell. He’s had so many opportunities that he’s wasted this year – he should have driven in at least 150.

But I digress.

Fulchino struck out the side in the 7th (one of Fast Eddie’s good pickups, along with Byrdak and Hawkins, who didn’t allow a run in the 8th) and then Valverde got 1,2,3 out after a leadoff walk.

We have a blessed day off, then HOPEFULLY Clark will play some of the young guys against the Reds as he can’t make the excuse that we have to throw only Old Guys against any team in contention.

We’ll see Moehler on Friday, Paulino on Saturday and Wandy to finish out the season on Sunday.

I heard that Wandy was so out of kilter in his last start because his pitching day routine was significantly disrupted by the team conference about firing Cooper. Hopefully, he’ll be back where he belongs for Fan Appreciation Day. I’d sure like to see a few Wandy shirts besides mine out there.

Seriously.

They don’t sell them in the Shed and Wandy is the best pitcher on the team. If only he LOOKED like Bradley Awesomeness, they’d have to build another Shed…

9/23/09: Astros Pitchers Continue Triumphant Slide Into Supreme Suckage

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Well, why not start off with what little good news there was from this embarassing game:

1 – Michael Bourn hit 2 changeups and, in fact, hit the second off the RF wall. 5′ higher and it would have been out. He almost managed to catch another ball on the Hill, but it fell for a triple and I was disappointed that Oquendo didn’t allow Ankiel to keep running to earn himself an inside-the parker.

That, at least, would have been something worth watching.

2 – Miggy Tejada went 3/4 and hit 2 doubles. He made 3 bad throws, but Berkman saved him every time.

3 – Pence and Keppinger grounded into double plays, increasing the Astros league-leading total to 144. The rest of the guys had better get with the program because it is going to be tough to make up lost ground and we need another 20 in the next 12 days. I try to have confidence, really I do, but Berkman failed in the first, Blum, then Pence failed in the 4th and Miggy failed in the 8th.

Just imagine the headlines had the Astros managed SIX GIDPs in one game. Why BBTN might could forget all about the Yecchs/Red Sux for the 10 seconds it would take to tell about this incredible accomplishment.

But I shouldn’t complain because the untimely removal of Cooper has gotten the Astros a few seconds of pub. Why remove Cooper NOW? ask all the pundits, who are tsk-tsking and calling Cooper a “scapegoat” instead of properly pointing out his endless mismanagement.

I hear tell that Dave Clark is supposed to be well liked and well respected and is Going To Bring A Winning Attitude And Turn Things Around.

fascinating

He’s still not playing the youngsters (except for having Towles catch Bazardo, as he did all year at AAA) and the vets are still playing like (looking for polite word) um, er, uh, let’s say, lousy. We can lose just as well playing Manzella, Johnson, Maysonet and Towles.

The hitters? Nothing has changed. Lots of hacking away, swinging at first pitches, refusal to take pitches or foul them off. The Astros load the bases with no outs and manage only 1 run – on a sac-fly. They can’t even manage to score any runs off Todd Wellemeyer, the Cards’ worst pitcher this year.

I suppose I had better discuss the pitchers. Not that I’m looking forward to this…

First, props to Doug Brocail because he is the ONLY pitcher of the 6 pitchers Clark used who managed to both get 1,2,3 out AND give up no runs.

Next, Yorman Bazardo: he started off just great – the first 2 innings, he got 1,2,3 out and 2 swinging Ks. I thought – well, seems the guy has remembered how to pitch. He WAS the second best pitcher in the PCL this year, next to Bud Norris.

Then, something happened, not really sure what. He got Yadier Molina out easily to start the 3rd inning. But then he just lost control of the strike zone and walked Lugo on 4 pitches – and Lugo isn’t exactly a guy to avoid throwing strikes to. Then he gave up a sac-bunt, an RBI single up the middle, another walk (and those pitches weren’t even close), then an RBI single to Uncle and then the Cards tried a double steal – Uncle to second and Rasmus to home (at least I THINK it was supposed to be a double steal) and JR threw to second, Uncle managed to avoid the tag until Rasmus scored as Miggy didn’t throw home as he had done last night.

So there we were, losing 3-0 already and with this team, playing as horribly as they are right now, the ball game was OVAH. It’s really depressing to know that if your baseball team gets behind 3-0 in the 3rd inning that you have LONG since lost the ballgame.

JD noted that Bazardo was NOT throwing the baseball to the inner half of the plate (well, he sure did with Holliday) and I don’t know if that was by accident or design, but he came back in the 4th, gave up 3 straight singles, an RBI groundout, another groundout, then another single and then was pulled, having surrendered 6 runs over 3.2 IP. The sad part was that he didn’t give up one hard hit ball and with 1 exception, did keep the ball down.

He didn’t really have enough movement on the slider and he wasn’t able to effectively throw the FB to all 4 corners and that is what most likely did him in. He’s just not looking like ML material.

Wesley Wright came in at the end of the 4th and rescued him and for some unknown reason, Clark left him in for the entire 5th inning even though he would be facing some right handed pitchers!!! Imagine that!!!! He loaded the bases with 2 singles and a walk, then gave up a run scoring GIDP and got DeRosa to ground out.

(Speaking of DeRosa, if we are going to pay someone to play third, I would MUCH rather have him than Miggy Tejada, and he’ll be cheaper and more versatile.

But I digress…)

Byrdak pitched an inning, giving up a homer to Rasmus on a hanging slider. He’s getting tired out too. He’s pitched in 11 of 19 games this month and has warmed up in 5 more.

Chad Paronto gave up 3 singles and a 2 run homer on an inside sinker which looked like a good pitch that was golfed into the Crawford Boxes. Amazing the difference between AAA and ML hitters, isn’t it?

Valverde came in for the 9th and was NOT sharp. He threw 7 pitches to Ankiel, 4 of which were fouls, and then he threw a FB right down the middle, which Ankiel promptly hit 420′ onto the Hill, where Bourn juuuuuuust missed it. DeRosa drove him in with a groundout (yeah, him again), Yadi doubled then Lugo popped out.

What can you do besides shake your head in disgust?

I wonder if Clark will use ANY reliever for, say, 2 or 3 innings, especially if he’s sharp and only needs a few pitches to get 3 outs.

Tomorrow, it’s Bud Norris vs our old foe John Smoltz.

I checked Smoltzie’s stats vs the Astros and was stunned to find that he’d lost 13 regular season games. I thought he was like 50-0 or something. Curiously enough, he’s never started a game here at the Box – he closed 5 games and saved them all. 5 innings of work doesn’t tell much and you don’t want to know his lifetime ERA vs the Astros, trust me on this. Yes, I know he’s 42 and he’s supposed to be on his last legs (so to speak) but when it comes to this particular guy, his career has, shall we say, legs…

9/22/09: Wandy Gets No Help From Defense, Pitches Lousy And Loses

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

This was his first bad game in a month, and, in fact, his first lousy home game.

sigh

I can’t even begin to tell all yall how disgusted and disappointed I was when I looked at the lineup and saw the same old same old. Second verse, same as the first. Or should I say – won’t get fooled again. So much for taking a look at the young guys.

And same old crap with the defense. Uncle hits a double, then Holliday hits a grounder to left – NOT in the corner, an ordinary single and Clank makes a weakass throw way offline and Uncle scores easily.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Ludwick singles and Holliday goes to third. Then DeRosa doubles to the RF corner, Pence fires to Quintero who doesn’t even BOTHER to try to tag Ludwick, allows him to score but throws to third to get DeRosa instead. I couldn’t freaking believe it. JD couldn’t believe it.

Astros are down 3-0 at the end of the first inning because of lousy defense and you KNOW that’s the end of the game.

Then in the second, wandy gives up a single, then another single just past a diving Miggy (the guy has really lost his range). Then a sac-bunt, then a sac-fly. Then a ball to short and Miggy throws waaaaayyy off line and another run scores. Shoulda been an error, but nope.

And we’re down 5-1 (Miggy hit a homer instead of yet another ball to short, whaddaya know) and I look at Husband and I said – I just *()%^&#%! give up. So he says, well don’t you want to see what he does with the bullpen, or even if he pulls the regulars if the game is out of line? Besides, the more we lose, the better a draft pick we get.

I looked at him coldly. It won’t be high enough to matter and even if it was, Drayton won’t deal with Boras, who has all the highest picks.

He said – cmon, cheer up. In a few weeks there won’t be any baseball except for the stupid Yankees and their <mercenary> team.

And Wandy settled down and threw 3 more 1,2,3 innings (except for DeRosa’s homer) but big deal. Too late. He ended up giving up 6 ER, 9 H, no BB and 6 K over 5 IP.

Besides, I knew that Dave Clark, new manager, ex 3B coach, had already conceded the freaking game when he sent Aaron Worthless Boone up to pinch hit with 1 out, men on first and second. Good grief. I also saw Paronto warming up (yeah, THAT Paronto) and you know how he’s done as an Astro.

Man it looks weird to see him wearing Brad Lidge’s number #54. First he gives up a homer to DeRosa (that dude KILLLLZZZ the Astros. He has hit 7 homers vs Astros pitching just THIS YEAR. So the bet was (betwen Husband and me), of course, how many runs would Clark let Paronto give up before pulling him? I said 2, he said 3 and we were both over, to our great surprise.

The 7th inning was fun, though. Sammy Gervacio went out there (guess Clark didn’t want to press his luck with Paronto – although I am getting tired of this – no reliever is allowed to pitch more than 1 inning) for like the 6th time in 7 days. He gave up a GR double to Uncle juuust inside the 3B line, then a single to Holliday. So he has men on first and third, no out. Ludwick hits a ball to Lance, who looks Uncle back, then throws to second to force Holliday. Meanwhile, Uncle has decided to head home anyway and Miggy throws him out. Then, on the VERY NEXT PITCH, Ludwick decides to steal second and is thrown out. So Gervacio, who looks T I R E D, to put it mildly, is helped out by the Cards thoughtfully running themselves into the next 2 outs.

Wilton Lopez, for the first time, pitched a scoreless inning and didn’t look bad. He gave up one single that Matsui got a late jump on, and that was it. Of course, he wasn’t allowed to pitch 2 innings and Clark dragged Hawkins tired ass out to pitch the 9th.

The youngsters sat on the bench in a game that was LONG lost to a team that has LONG SINCE won the division.

I hope Drayton noticed how few people were in the stands.

One more thing – I actually think that something is wrong with Bourn – I mean hurt. Not just because he’s suddenly swinging away at any old thing, especially changeups, but he isn’t getting to balls in the field that he used to. If he isn’t hurt, he’s just plain worn out. And that boy he best start learning how to hit the change because the pitchers aren’t going to be stupid enough to throw him anything else next year.

Tomorrow, Bazardo is going to lose to Joel Piniero.

Might as well play the rookies, Clark. ALL of them.

9/91/09: Cecil Cooper FINALLY Fired As Astros Manager!!!!!

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I was driving in my car with kids being (reasonably) good lil kids, when I turned to the AM radio to check on the traffic, got the news and what did I hear?

Drayton McLane, unhappy with the 0-6 road trip, finally decided to fire Cecil Cooper.

I screamed YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!! so loudly I shocked the kids into dead silence – why youda thought Ah had done won me a date with Bradley Awesomeness AND Grady Sizemore AND Corey Patterson (yes, I know, lousy ballplayer but who cares).

I would say YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! but I think Tanya Tucker said it best “But it’s a lil too late to do the right thing now…”

Yes, I do remember how happy I was 2 years ago when Phil Garner went byebye and I hopeHOPED that Coop would be better, and he was even worse than Phil. I have absolutely no idea what finally pushed Drayton, maybe the number of letters/emails he was getting demanding that Cooper be removed or they wouldn’t renew season tickets, maybe his remarks about Janish and Blum, maybe his absolute refusal to play Maysonet or Manzella, or maybe Lance and Roy went to him and said they would publically demand a trade?

It’s not as if Drayton had like NOOOOOOO idea how little respect Cooper had in his own clubhouse (he should have gotten THAT one figured out about the time of the Shawn Chacon debacle last year) and it’s not like he didn’t know how the players felt about him at the end of the year. But SOMEthing finally got to him – and I hope that Dave Clark does a better job managing than he does coaching third base.

UPDATE: Just saw the lineup for tonight’s game and it has the same Old Guys that have been lousy all year and NO rooks. So much for change. Well, no change in lineup. We’ll see if Clark has the same bullpen non-sense.

9/20/09: Brewers Sweep The Astros As Bourn Takes The Golden Sombrero

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Good:

1 – Pence took 2 walks, didn’t swing at even 1 bad pitch, got a single, and SHOULD have gotten a 3rd walk, only the HP ump was unusually biased in favor or the other team and called Ball 4 Strike 3

2 – Astros got 4 walks and 6 hits, 4 of them doubles

3 – Miggy hit into his NL league leading 29th double and only needs 4 more in the next 2 weeks to break his ML record. He could have hit into a triple play if only he had hit the ball to 3rd instead of short

4 – Paulino pitched pretty well except for the 3 homers – 1 walk and 6 Ks over 6 innings

5 – Carlos Lee REALLY hustled after a fly ball in the first which fell juuuuust foul. Good for him.

6 – Kaz Matsui made an EXCELLENT play on a grounder to right.

Bad:

1 – Bourn has, over the past 2 weeks, developed this sudden inability to not only not hit a changeup, but to lay off them and he is in danger of other teams picking up on this and exploiting it, as tems do with Pence and sliders away

2 – Miggy left 2 guys on base TWICE and GIDP. Naturally, he gets his only hit at the end of the game.

3 – in the 8th inning, with the ballgame already long since lost, Cooper pulls Wilton Lopez with men on second and third, 2 outs ONLY because a lefty is up and he can’t live with himself if he doesn’t send the lefty out there..

4 – Ed Rapuano called 13 pitches thrown by Astros pitchers which were CLEARLY in the strike zone as balls. He calls ZERO pitches thrown by Brewers pitchers which were in the strike zone as balls.

5 – the Proven Veterans Coop LUUUUVVVVSS so much didn’t do any better than the rooks did. Especially Blum, who was sooooo angry about Johnson getting to play yesterday. At least CJ drove in a run. Blum did zip.

Well, it’s gotten to the place where the only interesting thing left about the Astros is seeing HOW they are gonna lose. That and seeing if Miggy Tejada can break his NL record GIDP and reach the ML record set by Jim (“Feared”) Rice.

Milwaukee radio guys, when listing the Astros lineup, once AGAIN mentioned how Coop told them that Blum expressed anger about being replaced in the lineup, and then mentioned how today, Blum is back in the lineup.

sigh

Bad Felipe showed up in the first inning. Thing is, major leaguers can hit baseballs thrown at 98 and 99 MPH when they are thrown down the middle of the plate and Corey Hart hit a 97 MPH FB right down the middle, thigh high about 420′ and then Prince hit one at least in the middle of their scoreboard and it looked to me that if we were at home, it would have gone over Tals Hill and above that patch of grass. And the one Prince hit was 99 MPH, belt high, right down the middle. And the one Jody Gerut hit in the 4th was, you guessed it, belt high and right down the middle.

I DID like Paulino’s pickoff of Corey Patterson in the 5th. Both Paulino and Norris have done a great job with pickoffs. Maybe Burt Hooten has, you know, like, taught them how.

The Astros did get one call their way – Joe West called Ryan Braun out as a caught stealing – the ball DID beat him but Tejada’s tag was late. Not that it mattered.

sigh

Man this was an absolutely sorry ass road trip. The guys are counting the seconds until the year is over. And naturally, Coop isn’t gonna play any of the callups at home because the fans don’t want to see them. Or something. We wanna see the crappy ones we’ve been disgusted with all year.

sigh

Tomorrow night, it’s Wandy vs Kyle Lohse, who has kicked Astros ass all year.

I know he’s supposed to be nails at home, but no one wins without any run support and Wandy knows that only too well.