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Archive for May, 2010

In Which The HP Ump Squeezes The Strike Zone Like A Size 16 Woman Tryin To Get Into A Size 6 Dress And Roy Gets Up Set And Gets Tossed

Monday, May 31st, 2010

And, of course, the Astros lose.

Again.

But first, Happy Memorial Day – and thank you to all Americans who fought in our wars since the country began to give us the right to keep the rights we now have (and yes I most certainly DO know that SOME of us didn’t have no rights a tall for a long LONG time – but hey, the entire IDEA of a country founded on the idea that there would be no state religion and each person was entitled to HIS beliefs – like I said – SOME of us, was like a completely new thing in world history as we know it. And like babies have to grow, so do countries…) including the right to grouse bitterly about our horrible baseball team…

It was a few years back that I wrote an article for The Hardball Times, discussing the rapidly increasing propensity of umpires to do their best to make themselves into more than who they should be – namely, an impartial arbiter whose job it is to equitably enforce rules as well as call balls and strikes. The Rule Book clearly defines the strike zone – and nowhere does it say that each umpire may design his own personal zone and enforce it arbitrarily.

MLB has decided to punish Joe West – Probably because he was the one who publically complained about the length of Yankees/Red Sox games and the endless stepping out/stepping off, etcetcetc – you just can NOT put down the money franchises, even though you would be in trouble if you even THOUGHT of enforcing the batters box rule/the time to home plate rule, etcetcetc. Yeah, I know it was ostensibly over some balk thingy, but I’m not fooled here.

I know that before – oh, maybe Eric Gregg and his infamous strike zone the size of his belly – that except for guys who made big time national TV egregious mistakes (Don Denkinger – and I remember his name and it’s been, what, 25 years?) you didn’t know one umpire from another – which is the way it should be.

This HP ump’s name – Bill Hahn – for some reason rang a bell, and so I looked it up – and he’s the guy who tossed Bobby Cox and Brian McCann, then hi-fived the Marlins’ catcher after they had won the game. And MLB did absolutely NOTHING. I know that all ML umps are under the MLB, not the League jurisdiction, but they had darn well better do something as this hysteria by the umps has gotten greater and greater by the year. I understand that MLB might could not want to openly punish/fine umps for egregious misbehaviour (remember Mike Winter instigating a fight with Milton Bradley a couple years back? Winter got a slap on the wrist, Milton got a severe hit to his rep…)

Anyway, I checked both Gameday as well as the replay and there were 3 strikes that were called balls (per gameday) and 3 more by my eyeballs. On the replay, Roy was FURIOUS – both body language and action. But when he pointed to the ump (one too many balls on Willingham) he said – and I quote – “I’m not talking to you” he was INSTANTLY tossed. Not a word about a ball, strike, or mothers… This was, of course, right after the Adam Dunn bases clearing double which gave the Ex-Spos a 4-1 lead (in other words, the ballgame and another L for Roy-O) when he SHOULD have been out on strike 3, not Ball 2.

I VERY clearly remember the last time Roy got tossed from a game – he hit Michael Barrett – and YES, on purpose. It was AWESOME. And Roy standing up to The Baggy was teh KEWL, too. THAT kickstarted the 04 Astros amazing September run to get the WC – ahhhhh, those were the days. Heaven knows if/when us Astros fans will evah see that again.

Why on earth Drayton/Tal/Fast Eddie just absolutely refuse to cut bait and go ahead and trade off basically everyone and bring up some youngsters, I do NOT know. I hear tell that the Angels want Lance – bad as he’s been looking (and today, he looked bad BAD – getting picked off second yesterday, striking out on a ball in the dirt to end the game today) and a WHOLE lot of clubs want Pence and same thing with Roy – don’t nobody want Clank THIS year, not that he’d go.

And speaking of go – Chris Sampson needs to Go on the DL because something is really REALLY wrong with him. And every time he’s gone from unhittable to BP pitcher, it has been because he was hurt. As for Fulchino, not sure why he went from very good last year to sukc this year.

Only 3 good things with THIS horrid game – Chacin hit a home run (and WHY was he pulled after only 2 innings?), Bourn hit an RBI triple off the mopup man and some maroon ran onto the field – up Tal’s Hill – in the umpty run 7th. Was the only excitement. Actually, I was hoping he’d run to the MOUND and say gimme the ball, you uck-say, and I can get some outs.

And of course, the Nat’s pitcher is some guy up from the minors who hadn’t gone longer than 5 innings until he had the great luck of facing the Astros.

Which reminds me -

what makes me the absolute MOST irritated about this game is that the ump had the same micro strike zone for that Nats rook. BUT the Astros hitters didn’t have the sense to not swing at the first or second pitch – seeing as how prolly half of them were gonna be called balls, too.

Tomorrow night, we face 26 year old righty Craig Stammen, who has a lifetime 5+ ERA – doesn’t walk many (like that matters with THIS team) or give up too many homers (ditto) but I’m sure we will make him look like Uvaldo Jiminez. Visiting teams can’t WAIT to face the Lastros these days.

Oh yeah – and I hope all yall had a great Memorial Day Weekend. Outside of the Astros, we did. We went to Galveston (Husband’s VERY favorite place except his own House) and enjoyed the great weather – and no, there is no awl on the beach – and had our cookout listening to the game (TV – no way will I agree to listen to da CLOUNZZZ on KTRH) – well, sort of because it was tough to hear over the music. And yes, Jana Brattain Dog and Dog Pappas enjoyed the sea air and the ride down…

Paulino Pitches 8 Shutout Innings Against The Reds, Doesn’t Get The W, But Lance Drives In The Winning Runs

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Poor Paulino – even when he gives up NO runs he still can’t get that elusive W. Dude now has THE lowest run support/start in the MAJORS! He’s gone under Roy O. But Roy gonna get his own entry…

And the day before, Tommy Manzella drove in both runs.

Maybe he should get his own headline, too…

Kevin Cash Outpitches Wandy, Byrdak, Fulchino And Chacin As Reds Beat Stros For The 8th Straight Game

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I don’t have words any more to express how incredibly disGUSted I am with this absolutely HORRIBLE team. Looks as if everyone not named Oswalt, Pence, Manzella, Bourn and Keppinger have long since mailed it in. I’ve loved this team since my Mama introduced me to the Astros when I was a little girl. I’ve watched them through the bad early 90s, the good but not quiiiite good enough mid 90s with the execrable Terry Collins, the shoulda been GREAT late 90s, the sort of re-tooling earlier this decade and the rapid decline into less than suckage after the forced exit of Gerry.

Wandy looked like it was 2006 again – to be nice about it – hung a bunch of curveballs, nibbled the strike zone to death, walked guys all over the place. I won’t need to go into how he got Francoed by Chacin (called back up) who let all 3 of the inherited runners score, do I? Or Fulchino, who sucked again, Byrdak, fresh off the DL, who served up a granny to ex-Stro Drew Sutton. Only good part of the night was watching Kevin Cash throw knuckleballs and give up only 1 run in the 8th. Dude can’t hit – put him in the bullpen.

HEY EDDIE – you just found your self a new middle reliever!!!!!

 Astros hitters – except for Pence and Bourn – uck-say (well, Manzella almost hit a ball out) and this was facing some guy just called up from AAA – as usual. I like how he’s got Clank and Lance on first and second, 2 outs in the 5th – and the pitching coach goes out there and sez – don’t worry, that’s Feliz coming up – remember the GIDP with 1 out bases loaded in the third – it’s what he always does - and sure nuff, the usual GO to 3rd.

I am more than tired of PedroWorthless Feliz, Cory *(^*$%@! Sullivan, Carlos Lee, Lance (yes, even him) and most of all, I am REALLY tired of Drayton and his 3 stooges.

First, Drayton says he wants to leave FoxSports and form a RSN with Les Alexander. Like that would work – he points to (get this) the Yankees/Red Sox as having success. Like there is noooooo difference in the audience? What a maroon. Won’t nobody pay extra to get the dish to watch his horrible team – and won’t nobody pay extra for the Rockets neither. The Twins tried the RSN thingy a couple years back and gave it up when it CLEARLY didn’t work.

Hello. The more people who watch your team, the more fans you have. One of these days, MLB is gonna have the sense to get rid of the assinine blackout stuff so that Astros fans in, say, Dallas, could watch their team instead of not watching or watching Rangers – and that helps the Astros, like HOW?

What a complete and total maroon. Like he isn’t losing fans right and left because he absolutely refuses to do anything except say that he thinks this is a championship team? Oh yeah – and like WHAT does he think is gonna happen to his fan base in Austin and Corpus when Nolan Ryan, who owns those minor league franchises and who NOW owns the Rangers, decides to un-affiliate with the loser Astros? We’re gonna go where – Oklahoma City, just bustin with Astros fans? Back to Tuscon? Well, at least in Tuscon, the 10 Astros fans there will be able to follow them on MLB.tv unless Drayton is stupid enough to claim it for his territory.

jeezus gawd

Next:

Bud Norris is on the DL with a sore arm and here is an opening for a young pitcher called up from ther minors, right? A new face, a hope for the future, someone to grab some Astro fan attention??? Yes???

HECK NO.

They send down Oswaldo Navarro, who struck out in both pinch hit ABs over 12 games – which proves he sucks, right? And do they call up anyone who could like, you know, START? Even if the guy isn’t lights out at AAA? Just so we can see someone young and eager?

HECK NO.

We get Brian Moehler who has all of 18 IP this year and has thrown an inning or 2 every 4 to 6 days. And isn’t particularly good neither.

wonderful

That REALLY gives me (and every other Astros fan) a great incentive to watch a Saturday night game instead of doing something a LOT more interesting. Like watching paint dry. Or golf.

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

I was chatting with a friend of mine who has been feeling my misery and he mentioned that if only Drayton had waited another few weeks, he could have had Walt Jocketty – you know, the GM of the Reds, who now have the best record in the NL – heck, they have a better record than the Yankees. Yeah, they do.

I had a good laugh – a bitter laugh, to be sure – and I told him – don’t be ra-deeka luss (channeling Balky – remember him?) Jocketty would NEVAH have agreed to so much as interview for a job where he would have to “work with” Tal Smith. And Drayton would NEVAH have hired someone like Jocketty who wouldn’t want to be paid to be someone’s yes-man and do incredibly STUPID stuff like sign Pedro Feliz or Cory Sullivan instead of Scott Rolen and Johnny Gomes.

And don’t get me started on Drew Stubbs or Drew “Grand Slam” Sutton.

My baseball team has become an even greater laughingstock than the Royals/Pirates. I wish I could be one of the ones doing the laughing, is all I can say…

Husband tried to cheer me up – sez – well, at least you don’t have to worry about how to get money for tickets any more – too many people sayin – take my tickets. PLEASE…..

5/27/10: Lindstrom Blows Save, Gives Up The Game Losing Walk Off Walk

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

sigh

I don’t know what to say. Dave Bush is no longer a good pitcher and should lose ballgames by a good 5-6 runs. The Astros SHOULD have beaten him but good. Absolutely NO excuse for only scoring 2 unearned runs on o0nly 3 walks and 4 hits over 5 innings. NO excuse.

Of course, the lineup included stalwarts Cory Sullivan and Kevin Cash – when on WHEN – or at least HOW could Astros fans even begin to convince the Organization to dump Sullivan and call up Bourgeois? I mean, what more can the guy POSSIBLY do in AAA – batting .350 with 8 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers and 14 SB over 41 games???!!! I don’t have any problem giving Clank a day off, even after a good day at the plate and on the bases, but replacing him with Cory Sullivan is NOT a win/win. And Bourn went ofer, even though he did walk and steal a base and get stranded.

But actually, I place the blame SQUARELY on Berkman and Blum as both left SIX guys on base, doing basically nothing and yeah, I know Berkman walked once and Blum drove in 2.

Fact is that the score SHOULD have been so lopsided that Lindstrom, who needed work, should have cruised through the 9th with a 5 runs lead. And of course, he wasn’t helped by the fact that Kevin Cash couldn’t get up in time to catch a high one that even Towles woulda caught so that the runner advanced to third. Castro is just a singles hitter, but even HE is supposed to be able to catch wayward balls and block well. (Of course, you KNOW he’ll be up after the Super 2 deadline and won’t have to worry about being sent back down no matter WHAT he does/doesn’t do – unlike, say, poor Navarro…) Anyhow, he shouldn’t have thrown a 2-1 FB to Gomez, who was sitting on it – and Blum wasn’t able to field it – and there was the blown save after 22 straight saves.

He just didn’t have it tonight. And really, there was no one to send in for the 10th, seeing as how Fulchino and Sampson are suddenly having trouble with finding the strike zone/keeping pitches out of the MIDDLE of the strike zone, really, and Lyons and Lopez had already been used.

sigh

Really, I don’t know what to say any more.

We’re off to Cincy, and hopefully hitting at his favorite ballpark will get Lance really going. Everytime I think he’s got it together, he absolutely is lousy the next day.

And by the way, I hear tell that bout every team not named the Royals or Pirates or Marlins are MUCHO interested in Roy – Fast Eddie is a sittin back, watchin the offers pour in. I just hope he is a little better at making a good trade than he was with either Schilling or Rolen, but I’m not holding my breath…

Roy Oswalt Seriously Boosts His Trade Value With 8 Shutout Innings and 9 Ks – And His 3rd W

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Roy was vintage Roy – simply AWESOME – gave up 2 doubles to Braun, a double to Hart, a single to the pitcher and a walk to the Prince. Everyone just grabbed some bench. He went to only three 3 balls count. He was absolutely dead set on not giving up even ONE single run. In the 4th, he gave up a double to Braun, then a walk to the Prince, then struck out the next 3 batters.

Actually, I was surprised he didn’t finish the shutout, but I guess he must have decided that he had had enough and someone else could go get Braun out.

Which reminds me – it’s the first time this YEAR that the Astros have shutout some OTHER team.

The Astros beat on Chris Narveson like a punching bag (well except for Pedro Feliz who did his usual weak groundout/popout to 3rd/left thingy.

Michael went 1 fer 4 with an RBI, a run scored (from second on an INFIELD SINGLE up the middle by Carlos – and the throw wasn’t even close) and a walk (and two 3-2 counts) and he got CS – actually, was picked off by Narveson – us leftys r crafty – and Prince threw him out.

Keppinger went 1 fer 5 with a double and a run scored

Pence, hitting 3rd, went to two 3-2 counts!!! and went 2 fer 4 with an RBI and 2 runs scored and a stolen base (and as usual, got a terrible jump, but fortunately, Kotteras’ throw went into CF and he went to 3rd on the throw – then scored when Lance singled him home. Oh, and he did a great job backing up a play when Michael didn’t get his glove on one of Braun’s doubles and kept him from going past second.

Carlos went 2 fer 4 with 2 RBIs and darn near scored a run – SERIOUS hustle trying to beat the throw on Lance’s single up the middle, but Gomez’ throw nailed him. AND he made every play in left and didn’t mail it in or miss any plays!!!!!

Lance hit 2 singles batting righty, 1 single batting lefty, walked and flew out 400′ to straightaway center to end the game (they had the roof open by then and the wind was blowing in)

Feliz was teh uck-say with the bat - didn’t have any balls hit to him/near him (WHEN are we gonna see Chris Johnson???)

Quintero went 0fer 3 with a walk and caught a popup from the Prince after getting smacked hard by the backswing – not sure how he even stood up…

Tommy Manzella went 2 fer 4 with a double and a run scored and was making plays left and right – he’s gotten his BA back over the Mendoza line and is showing better plate discipline by not swinging at crap out of the zone, especially with 2 strikes.

Even Jason Michaels got a hit.

I just hope the guys can keep this up against Dave Bush tomorrow night, as Dave hasn’t, uh, been real too sharp. And Kevin Cash is gonna be in the lineup and I’m not expecting real too much in the way of hitting from him…

Quintero Drives In Pence To Prevent Shutout As Astros Reach Tombstone Time Again

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

In Which Paulino Gets Oswalted And Loses #7 To Ex-Stro Randy Wolf In Milwaukee.

It used to be Clemensed, but I thought it was time for an update, dontcha think? At least Roy is keeping the Astros from completely falling off the media radar, as speculation about his trade destination grows.

Felipe can’t ask for a trade, poor guy. He got “run support” from Manzella (2 singles and a walk), Quintero (single to center) and Feliz (given a single on what should have been an E6 and a walk?!?!); he himself left bases loaded in the second – but hey, he’s a pitcher – gotta give him a bye here; Jason Michaels struck out looking with 2 on in the 7th. Paulino also had terrible luck in that the umps mistakenly called a foul off his foot as a ball in play, and it went for a GIDP – it CLEARLY went off his foot.

But the real problem was that Lance, Clank, Pence and Feliz (supposedly a good hitter – acccording to Fast Eddie) all looked bad against Wolf. Even though Pence and Lance both went to 3-2 counts twice – well, at least Pence took Ball 4. They didn’t do anything against righty reliever Villanueva (Kepp had a single, then Lance struck out swinging on a pitch in the dirt and Clank grounded out weakly.) Pence, with a bloop double up the RF line, then Quintero, with a double to the gap vs Todd Coffey (yes, the ex-Reds closer) kept this laugher from being a shutout.

Felipe pitched pretty darn well – gave up 3 walks to the Prince, struck out 4 and gave up 2 runs over 6. He had a tough time getting his slider and curve to work when he first got out there – gave up a leadoff single, then a 10 pitch out, then threw a FB waist high straight down the middle and Ryan Braun hit it like 800 feet to dead center – it would most definitely have easily cleared the CF wall at the Hill if we were at the Box.

And he lost the ballgame right there in the first – just like Roy last week.

Very disheartening. He just can’t win.

hahahahahaha

Chris Sampson had his second really terrible outing in a row – none of his pitches had any sink and they got hammered. He hit the pinch hitter, then Rickie Weeks hit a sinker that didn’t opposite field off the facade of the second deck. Gomez had a weak grounder (that one worked) and then Braun laid down a perfect bunt single to third (Clank, Lance and Feliz really ought to think about doing something like that seeing as how they either strike out, GIDP or ground out weakly to third/second/first) and the Prince hit a bullet up the middle. McGehee singled to fairly shallow left and Braun was waved around third – everyone knows that Clank has an arm like a wet noodle.

Fulchino came on (he hasn’t really pitched very well either) and immediately gave up a long fly ball to deep center and Michael made a GREAT running catch – he didn’t hit today, but that catch was freaking AWESOME. Then Escobar hit a good pitcher’s pitch – down and inside – actually, out of the strike zone, to the RF corner for a GR double – and Sampson ate 4 ER. His ERA went from 1.14 2 days ago to 4.66 today (7 ER over 1.1 IP is not a good thing…)

sigh – not sure what on earth is wrong with that boy, but I hope he’s not hurt again and not telling people.

Tomorrow, it’s Roy vs Chris Narveson. Randy Wolf came into tonight’s game with a 5.17 ERA and lowered it to 4.52. Narveson, a RHP, has a 5.17 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP over 5 GS and 9 in relief – and he’s pitching better as a starter than he was as a reliever – has a 4.45 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP over 5 games – and he has also beated both the DBax and the Dodgers, who the Astros rolled over for…

Oh yeah -

Chris Johnson earned the PCL Player of the Week award. From the RR Express web site:

“Johnson led the hit .458 (11-for-24) in six games during the week with three home runs, nine RBI, 11 runs scored, three doubles and a triple. He currently rides an eight-game hitting streak, during which time he is hitting .469 (15-or-32). Johnson hit safely in six consecutive at bats and reached safely in nine consecutive plate appearances during the first two games of the Express series against Reno, both season bests for Round Rock.

A Naples, Fla., native, Johnson has hit safely in 11 of 12 games since rejoining the Express two weeks ago; he produced a sacrifice fly in the lone hitless game. Johnson is tied for seventh in the PCL with 11 extra-base hits this month, despite missing the month’s first nine games. He is hitting .380 (19-for-50) with three homers, 14 RBI, 14 runs scored, seven doubles and a triple in 12 games with the Express.”

I think he needs more seasoning in the minors, don’t you? After all, we couldn’t POSSIBLY think of replacing Proven Winner and Clutch Hitter Pedro Feliz, with someone who can, like HIT, could we?

Rays Beat Astros In Rubber Game 5/23/10 And Drayton McLane Is Conspicuously Absent From His Front And Center Seat

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I was trying to think of WHICH title to use for this here game -

In Which The Rays And Astros Play An Incredibly Long 9 Inning Game And Both Starting Pitchers Are Lousy And It Takes A LOOOOOOONG Time And Am I Glad We Are In The NL And This Hardly Ever Happens Because The Games Was WAYYYYYYY Too Long Lasting Like An Hour Longer Than Usual At Like 3 Hours And 40 Minutes And I Really HATE AL Style Ball

In Which Bud Norris Is Handed A 4 Run Lead In The First And He Blows It

In Which Bud Norris Strikes Out 10 And Coughs Up 3 Home Runs And Only Lasts 5 Innings Because It Takes Him Like 7 Pitches/Batter. AGAIN!!!! And What IS It With That Boy He Just Cain’t Throw Strikes????!!!!

In Which I Realize That Every Single Astros Pitcher, IF He Goes To 0-2 On A Batter, Will Throw A Ball On The Next Pitch

In Which The Astros, The Worst Team In The NL, Score FIVE Runs Off David Price Who Hadn’t Given Up More Than 2 In Any Of His 9 Starts vs The “Powerhouse/Superior” AL

In Which Brad Mills Had Better Tell Hunter Pence That If He Tries To Steal Again, He’s Gonna Make Him Wear A Tutu For A Uniform

In Which Houstonian Carl Crawford Easily Steals 3 Bases On Quintero, Who, By The Way, Wears The Sombrero Tonight

In Which Pedro Feliz Defeats My Plan To Get Him Out Of An Astros Uni By, For Once, Not Grounding Out Weakly To Third, But Hitting A 3 Run Homer Into The Crawford Boxes Which Turns Out To Be The #1000 HR Hit Here At The Box By An Astro Which Means Chris Johnson, Hitting .380 And Slugging .740 Is Gonna Hafta Rot At AAA JUUUUUUST A Bit Longer

In Which Brian Moehler Faces Four Hitters, Gives Up 2 Runs And Gets No Outs (Here And I Thought He Was Only Supposed To Be Used For Mopup) And The Loss

In Which Hunter Pence Hits A Home Run Over The Tracks

In Which Chris Sampson Gives Up 3 Runs On 4 Straight Hits On His Birthday Then Gets The Next 3 Guys Out On 5 Pitches

In Which Lance Berkman Gets The Night Off And Cory Sullivan Is Used As A Pinch Hitter Instead – But Hey, It’s Just Rearranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic

In Which Michael Bourn Serves His 1 Game Suspension For Supposedly Bumping An Ump Who Blew A Call When He Was Gonna Get The Day Off Anyway Because He’s A Lefty

In Which, Speaking Of Berkman And Bourn, I Realize That They Are The Only 2 Hitters On The Astros Who Have A Positive RCAA – Of +1; ONE!!! WHOOPEEEEE!!!!  Cuz The Astros Have 4 Of The Worst Hitters In The NL On RCAA (Lee, Pence, Feliz And Matsui – And Yeah, He’s Gone But The Stench Still Lingers)

In Which I Watched A Game Where Rays Fans Outnumbered Astros Fans And Realized How Many People Associated With The Rays Organization Are Either Houstonians Or GOOD Ex-Stros – Prolly Why Drayton Was Hiding – Didn’t Wanna Hear Jim Hickey Get Cheered And His Own Self Get Booed Because Us Astros Fans Got To See Why The Rays Are By Far The Best Team In The Major Leagues And The Reason Is Gerry Hunsicker Who Drayton Threw Out On His Ear

In Which I Realize That if Drayton Hadn’t Dumped Benny Zobrist And Mitch Talbot For 3 Worthless Months Of Aubrey Huff That We Would Have A Second Baseman Who Is Actually As Good As Biggio Was As Well As A Permium Pitcher And We Wouldn’t Have Had To Waste 5 Mill On Yet Another Ex-Phillie

In Which The Astros Go To 15-29 And Only Need One More Loss In Milwaukee On Tuesday To Randy Wolf, Who Is Sucking Out Of Dodger Stadium To Get The Tombstone Re-posted In The Chron…

Rest In Peace, Jose Lima 5/23/2010

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Jose Lima came to the Astros in 1997, as a throw in on the Brad Ausmus for Todd Jones trade (yeah, the Astro also got CJ Nitkowski, Trever Miller – the first time – and Daryl Ward; the Tigers also got Doug Brocail, Brian Hunter and Orlando Miller.)

The Tigers had signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 89, and he had his first cup of coffee in 94, throwing a couple of innings. He started 15 games for them next year, and was awful – 6.11 ERA, 1.4 WHIP. Of course, it’s not like they had anyone better. And of course, he was only 22 and had some maturing to do – probably. So the next year, he relieved in 39 games, same number of innings (72) and was not better – 5.89 ERA, 1.5 WHIP.

When he first came to the Astros in 97 - well, to leave pitching for a minute – he looked like a kid in a candy store. Even the grimly professional Bagwell and Biggio weren’t able to even slightly suppress his happiness at being alive, at being able to play baseball !!!! for a LIVING!!! Of course, I never saw Ernie Banks who always wanted to play two, but I figure that Jose was bout as close as you could get to Ernie. His entrance music should have been – JOYYYYYY to the World!!! To ALLLLLL the boysngrrrrrrrrrls!!! Joy to the fishes in the Deep Blue Sea, Joyyyyyyyy to you n meeeeeeeeeee.

I always expected him to skip to the mound singing (I guess, in Espanol) IIIIIIIII get ta play basssseball, IIIIIIIIIIII get ta play baaaaaaseball!!! And he always looked as if he was sorry he couldn’t let the rest of us down there to play baseball too, because we would have had as much fun as he did.

And he always looked as if he was having fun – the first pitcher I ever remember who would dance on the mound – the Old Guys disapproved, but he was simply irrepressible. And of course, he didn’t do very well as a reliever even in the Dome, posting a 5.38 ERA but lowering his WHIP to 1.27, mostly because he decreased both home runs and walks, while keeping his strikeout rate constant at about 7.5/9 IP.

Darryl Kile left for richer pastures after the 97 season, and Jose was put into the rotation – maybe from desperation? But he did better than could be expected, lowering his ERA 2 full points, although he still gave up 34 homers over 233 IP. But of course, he had some massive run support from the killah BBBBBBBs in their prime and the team won 102 games (and lost to Kevin EFF Brown and Sterling Freaking Hitchcock – even with Randy Johnson pitching 2 games. The Killer BBBBBBBBBs turned into the Killed BBBBBBBs.)

But that was OK because then there was 99. His finest year – he won 21 games, came in 4th, tied with Billy Wags, for the Cy Young (but wasn’t NOBODY gonna beat Randy Johnson and his 364 K over 271 IP in spite of his only winning 13 games – and some of the Old Guy media were screaming about Lincecum last year??? How soon they forget…) Lima Time ROOOOLED.

And then it happened.

The year 2000. Ten Run Field – aka The Box Of DOOOOOOOOOOM.

Unlike the Dome with its massive OF and foul areas, The Box’s field is shaped like a diamond, with a very very short porch in both left and right. And Jose, always a guy who gave up a LOT of homers, just gave em up right n left (so to speak.)

He was most certainly All Shook Up. I remember going to a game with Husband after we were first married and him saying – he looks like he wants the manager to take him out right from the time he goes on the mound. His hits/9, BB/9 and HR/9 ballooned, along with his ERA, which zoomed up to 6.68 and his WHIP, which was unprintable. 2000 was also The Year Of Mitch Melusky, who hit .300 and was universally hated by other hitters and all of the pitchers. Biggio tore his knee and was out for most of the year, and there was a whole lot of shakeup in the roster – only Mo Alou, Hidalgo, Bagwell and Berkman (after Dierker had the sense to put him into the lineup) hit. But it wasn’t just Jose – Miller, Holt, Dotel and Reynolds ALL also had ERAs over 5, and Elarton led the team with his sparkling 4.81 ERA.

In 01, Bradley Awesomeness returned to catch – Roy Oswalt joined the team and said – I don’t give a **** what happened last year and the Dome is history to me, just gimmee the **** ball. Wade Miller and Shane Reynolds settled right down, but poor ol Lima Time was even more of a Lit-Up Time than ever before – both as a starter and a reliever.

And so back he went to the Tigers, where he didn’t fare any better in their huge new stadium. He got himself released, pitched for the Newark Bears in the indys, got signed by the Royals in their only winning year since the mid 80s – somehow, he livened up the clubhouse, he WON, only gave up 9 homers over 14 games, and got himself new life and a new contract with the Dodgers and he pitched like it was (almost) 1999 – he even beat the Astros – not at The Box, of course. I didn’t see any of those games, but I DID see him throw an incredible complete game 5 hit shutout against the 04 Cardinals – the best Cardinals team I have ever seen (and yeah, they SHOULDA won that series instead of rolling ovah…)

It’s too bad he didn’t go out on top, but that wasn’t his style – he came back and pitched horribly for the Royals in 05. But he was irrepressible, just the same. He spent the rest of his life playing baseball in the indys, in the Dominican and playing salsa music with his band.

He brought joy to others, in ever ballpark he visited. I’m sure that the Good Lord can’t wait to welcome him home.

Lousy Astros Fielding Helps Jeff Niemann Beat Wandy

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Last night’s game wasn’t televised because Fox decided to have their SaturDAY game at night. Therefore, I had to rely on my mama’s various comments (all of which are edited for non-G rated words, you feelin me here…) which she texted/called me with during the game…

1st inning – the (swear word) ump is squeezing Wandy and he’s nibbling like he used to back in 06. He should just throw freaking STRIKES!!! He’s walked TWO guys. Got lucky because Longoria’s smash was a ground rule double or Zobrist would scored. Can’t believe CARL got his fool self picked off – first really GREAT throw to first I’ve seen from Q – he likes those snap throws, but this time, he timed it right.

AAAAAUUUUUUGHHHHHH – Benny Zobrist just jumped like 5′ to grab a hit away from Michael Bourn. Every time I look at Zobrist, I remember that McLane traded him away for absolutely NOTHING (swear words here). Hahahaha – Clank dribbles a “hit” 50′ down the 3B line. Good thing he didn’t hit it a lil firther like he usually does for his daily GIDP… Speaking of GIDP, Pence just beat a sure one out and we won’t get shut out. Supposed “clutch god” Blum grounds out, stranding men on first and third. Feliz is sitting. Hopefully this means he’s leaving and Chris Johnson is coming up. Yeah, and the sun will rise in the waste (hahahaha)…

2nd inning: Good quick inning for Wandy – 10 pitches, 3 outs. Of course, it’s the 7,8,9 guys, but still…

Quintero swings through 2 pitches around his shoulders, takes one down the middle. Manz lines out to center. Wandy hits a dribbler in front of the mound, Niemann manages to field it, but not in time to get Wandy – and the maroon (tsktsk – BAD words here) scorer calls it an ERROR? Bourn FO.

3rd inning: 3 up 3 down for Wandy, although it takes him 10 pitches to get Carl out – still only 13 pitches. He’s not getting ANY borderline calls.

Lance walks, Clank GIDP. He’s got, what, TEN of em already? He fer SHER gonna take the title from Miggy.

4th inning: In which my mama’s blood pressure medicine works overtime…

Today, a certain well paid columnist made some comments about how Roy is this Bad Guy and the other 24 guys are proud to be an Astro and Roy is letting his emotion show on the mound because in so many of his starts, his teammates have not exactly, uh, been stellar fielders.

Well, guess Wandy is gonna want a trade too, because he most certainly got Roy’d by the fielders. He gets 2 outs, then walks Upton. With Kaplan up, he picks Upton off!!! But Berkman throws so high that Manzella almost misses the ball and Upton is safe, instead of dead meat, as he should have been. Kaplan pretends the curve hits his foot and he’s on. Navarro, hitting like Manzella, pops one up to the RF foul line, Pence breaks late, runs ove,r dives, catches the ball AND DROPS IT!!! 2 runs score. Niemann out on 3 pitches. Wandy SHOULD have been out of the inning at 16. But he has to throw an additional 13 because Lance couldn’t throw the (swear word) ball to second and because Pence broke late then dropped the ball, 2 runs are in. Shouldn’t have been ANY runs in.

Niemann gets Pence, Blum and Q out on FIVE FREAKING PITCHES!!! Way to help out your pitcher. Good thing there are 2 minutes of commercial break because it didn’t take but 2 minutes for Niemann to get 3 outs. FIVE (lots of swear words) PITCHES FOR 3 (swear words) OUTS!!!!!

And that about sums up a HECK of a lot of the Astros problems this year – fewest pitches/PA in the MAJOR LEAGUES, fewest walks, fewest hits, fewest hits for power, worst with RISP, etcetcetc.

5th inning: The fielders, uh, um, don’t do Wandy any favors again.

Wandy’s had, what, like maybe 6 minutes at MOST since he threw the last pitch of the 4th?!

He goes out there, grim. Gets Bartlett swinging. Carl doubles down the LF line. Benny Zobrist lays down a bunt that goes between the mound and home and Q barely moves. Wandy can’t field it in time. Men on first and third, no out. Longoria hits into a perfect DP, only Manzella doesn’t get the ball out of his glove fast enough to get the second out and a run scores. NO run should have scored. Of course, the ballgame is lost now, but Wandy is MAD and gets Pena on 3 swinging strikes.

3 hitters lie down – but at least it takes Niemann 14 pitches.

6th inning: Wandy is back out there. Cooper wouldn’t have let him go out, but would have pinch hit for him in the bottom of the 5th. And Sully woulda been out, of course. And Wandy is tired. He walks Upton on 5 pitches (and yes, this is his FOURTH walk – it’s like it’s 05 all ovah again), then Kapler singles to right and Upton runs like Bourn, so he’s on third. Then, a stroke of luck. Navarro is batting, Wandy throws a pickoff throw to first to try to get Kapler, Upton breaks for home and Lance throws to Q who tags him easily. This is the SECOND day in a row that Upton has foolishly gotten himself out. Add in Benny Zobrist from yesterday, too. Upton can run fast, but sometimes his legs start off before his brain has a chance to work, you know what I’m sayin. And he sure nuff woulda scored on what would have been a sac-fly to right, but was only out #2. Niemann grounds out.

Niemann has a 2 run cushion, thanks to the lousy fielding of the opposition. He only makes one more mistake – hangs a curve to Lance, who sends it to the Conoco Pump. Well, a 1-run cushion, but he shrugs it off.

(I wish I could have been there tonight. I haven’t seen Niemann pitch since the Rice days – and that team was SOMEthing. I remember their catcher was about THE best defensive college catcher I ever saw. Fabulous hands – actually called pitches, Wayne Graham let him – but he couldn’t hit much, so he didn’t make it past AA. Back to Mama…)

7th and 8th – shrug. Sampson gives up a single and a walk, no runs. Wilton Lopez gets 1,2,3 out. Astros do nothing. Well, Bourn singles, but then it is 1,2,3 out.

9th inning: bad fielding again. Wilton Lopez gives up a clean leadoff single to Blalock, then Bartlett bunts, and he bobbles it for an error. His own darn fault. Then Carl Crawford hits one of those dribblers betwen the mound and first – Lance goes to field it, but Lopez isn’t covering first and NOBODY IS AT SECOND!!! Everyone is safe. Lopez is really rattled and immediately walks Benny Z. Then Evan Longoria hits a line drive straight at Berkman, who catches it and immediately tags Zobrist, who is right there. That’s 2 really good, really heads up fielding plays by Berkman – too bad he couldn’t throw the ball to second earlier to get an easy out (and those runs would have meant the ballgame…) Mills decides to have Lopez walk Pena, hitting below Mendoza, and pitch to Upton – and fortunately, it works. Not that Upton can’t hit rightys…

And Rafael Soriano shuts down Cory Suckivan, Q and Manzella. There isn’t any decent bench for Mills to use, yes I know.

Wandy didn’t really display real too much emotion out there, says Mama. Guess he and Roy have swapped the “emotional” tag. Incredible how many fans are angry with Roy for wanting out. I’m sure they are gonna be mad at Berkman, if HE manages to get out, too.

sigh

This afternoon, it’s Bud Norris vs David Price. David Price was one of those 1st round draft picks you have to pay GOOD money for. Drayton really ought to be doing a whole lot of looking, not trying to turn Roy into some kind of villain/A-Rod jerk.

Toy Poodle Defeats Rottweiler: Astros Beat Rays On Hitter Pence’s Go-Ahead RBI Single

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Baseball really IS a funny game. It is ever so true that really, youneverknow.

The guys can’t beat a lousy pitcher like Todd Wellemeyer. They go out and beat an ace like Garza (because Chris Carpenter beat himself, losing his temper.) Roy beat Garza a couple of years back, in Tampa – after going to talk to Jim Hickey, his old pitching coach. He didn’t likey Dewey at ALL, as we all know.

They showed a couple of closeups of Roy, face completely expressionless, in the dugout. It was made public, first in Chicago, that Roy asked his agent to inform the Astros Organization that he would LIKE a trade – not that he would CONSIDER a trade. He can’t force them to trade him, and, in fact, he has sort of backed off that – going to a contendah thingy – I guess, because he is SO angry with Draytie-poo that he’d consider pretty much anywhere except the Royals, I guess.

Not that I blame him. A pitcher shouldn’t have to throw a shutout every time to not lose. Notice I didn’t say – to win. Roy has by FAR the lowest run support in the NL – 2 runs/game started, and it is only that high because he got 4 runs of support in his 2 wins.

Of course, the Astros only scored 2 runs tonight because Lance left men on base twice – on first and third in the 3rd and a man on 3rd in the 7th. He’s looking bad again. Feliz is looking even worse, but he’s Fast Eddie’s little pet, so he won’t get Matsuied even though Chris Johnson is tearing the cover offn the ball at AAA – he’s 15 fer 39 with 5 doubles, a triple and 3 homers. But nooooooooo, we can’t get young guys up here – noooooooooo.

but I digress…

Anyway, I was noticing that Garza went 6 up 6 down on 17 pitches in the first 2 innings. The Rays took 45 pitches to get through 10 hitters in the first 2 innings – scoring only 1 run on a rare Pence error.

Ben Zobrist was up there dead set on reminding Astros fans that Drayton and Tal were dunces to trade him away (the day after Brooks Conrad reminded Astros fans that having a good switch hitting utility guy is a good idea – he hit that walkoff granny off Coco Cordero – you know, the Astros long time nemesis – to win the game for the Braves) and he went 3 fer 4 with 2 doubles – but I don’t wanna get ahead of myself just yet.

Anyway, Kevin Cash, of all people, broke up the nono in the 3rd when Garza figured that Cash couldn’t hit water iffn he fell outta  a boat threw 3 FB right down the middle and Cash hit one over the SS for a clean single. Freaked out Garza so much that he couldn’t even throw a pitch anywheres NEAR the plate with Brett Myers holding his bat ready to bunt and he committed the serious major sin of walking the pitcher. Bourn hit into a FC (cain’t double HIM up) and then Kepp got really lucky because the HP ump made a mistake and called Strike 3 Ball 1. Freaked out Garzo so much he threw a meaty one crotch high inside (where Kepp likes it) and he hit a RBI single to left. Then Lance crapped out swinging at a slider near his ankles. He’s gonna have a tough time gettin his little self traded with Roy, he surely is – lookin like THAT.

So it’s a tie game, 1-1.

The 5th got exciting. Benny Zobrist (yeah, him) led off with a double. Then, with Evan Longoria batting, for reasons unclear to me, on a 3-1 count, he decides to take off for 3rd (on ball 4) and even Cash is able to throw him out – and by like 10 feet. Reminds me of Lance taking off for 3rd right after he got back from the DL. What the HECK? Anyway, Longoria trots to first, Pena (now you talk about a FINE lookin man) and with Jason, the catcher, hitting .300 something up, Longoria gets his fool self picked off – and he was out by like at least a couple feet, too.

Then, no interesting action. Until the bottom of the 6th when Kepp leads off with a double. Lance draws a 4 pitch walk. Hickey trots out to talk to Garza because Carlos is up. And sure enough, Carlos hits the ball up the middle, as they planned, but Bartlett doesn’t get the ball to the second baseman fast enough, and Carlos HUSTLES down the first base line and beats the throw!!!!!

Yes, you read that right. Carlos ran hard ALL the way down the line. Might could he be trying to get his self traded, too?

Anyway, Pence, who got struck out his last time up on the usual slider away, hits a smash up the middle and Kepp trots home with the go ahead run!!! Feliz, as usual, grounds out limply. Manzella walks. Bases loaded, but Mills decides to let Cash hit for himself instead of pinch hitting. Garza isn’t dumb enough to throw him another meatball down the middle, and as usual, Cash grounds out weakly to third.

In the 7th, the Rays go 1,2,3 – and Benny Zobrist makes the 3rd out because Lance makes a great play on what could have been another double down the RF line. Sullivan does his usual weak groundout. Then Bourn hits a perfect, a PERFECT push bunt, steals second, goes to third on a Kepp groundout, then Lance pops up on the first pitch. He looked S O R R Y on THAT one.

So it is a 1 run lead and the question is – can Lyon and Lindstrom hold it?

Lyon makes it exciting. He gives up a leadoff single to Longoria, then Ks Pena after going 3-0. Jaso singles to shallow right, and it’s men on first and second, 1 out. Up comes PH Willy Aybar, who I remember being on the Dodgers and beating us, but he flies out to Carlos on the first pitch. And then, it’s Reid Brignac, who is already 3 fer 3 and hitting around .300, and he he goes to 3-2, fouls off like 5 pitches, before FINALLY swinging and missing the 9th pitch.

Clank, Pence and Feliz get themselves out on 10 pitches, Pence popping out on a pitch around his shoulders and Feliz popping up to shallow left.

Then it’s Lindstrom. He gets PH Blalock (who replaced Pat the bat-less Burrell – and I don’t think that Fast Eddie will pick up his old LUUUUVVVV because the boy is a righty and he only has the one lefty offn the bench in Sully – the fact that Burrell can no longer hit anything or field is not relevant…) to ground out, but then gives up a hit to Bartlett, the leadoff man.

Carl Crawford, Houston boy, is up, and hits a sharp grounder to the right of Manzella, who makes an AWESOME play on it and gets the ball to Kepp in time to get Bartlett. No way in HECK that Kepp or Blum at SS even THINKS of even GETTING that baseball, let alone getting Bartlett out – and it would have been men on first and third, 1 out, instead of man on first, 2 out.

And then it’s Ben Zobrist up – Carl easily steals second – and Lindstrom goes to 3-1, but then gets him to FO to Pence.

The Rays way outhit the Astros – 9 hits plus 4 walks and 1 HBP – but left all 12 RISP.

Must have been because cheapo Drayton decided to close the roof, instead of making everyone sweat to death as he did last night.

Tomorrow, it’s Wandy vs Jeff Niemann, the only one of the trio of great Rice pitchers from their WS winning club in 03 to make the majors – actually, to succeed (This year, he’s 3-0 in 8 GS and except for his first start, when he was pulled after getting hit in the shoulder, he’s pitched ALL QS. ERA is 2.49, WHIP is 1.14). Phil Humber has thrown 29.2 ML innings, and they are lousy. To be nice. Wade Townsend got picked in the 1st round by the Rays in 05 and got paid 1.5 mill to suck decaying eggs in every level of pro ball he’s pitched at – has a minor league ERA of 5.59. Who woulda thunk it that Paul Janish would have much greater ML success than either Humber or Townsend, let alone both of em put together?

youneverknow…