Archive for August, 2010

8/31/10: Wandy, Wilton And Lyon Shut Up And Shut Out Carpenter

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Wandy had a bit of difficulty because the HP ump had a somewhat erratic strike zone on the outside, but Wandy and Castro managed to adjust all right. It took Wandy 20 pitches to get through the first inning, and he walked Albert, but got Holliday looking at strike 3 – off the plate – as I said, the ump was, uh, erratic. He gave up 2 singles in the 3rd, but got Uncle to flyout to end the inning – Uncle has never done well against Wandy. He walked Pedro Feliz in the 4th, but after that, mowed em down 1,2,3 except for Yadi, who ROE in the 7th when CJ bobbled a ball.

7 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 5 K, no runs, ERA now down to 3.71 – his 8th straight QS, 12th of 13.

He now has a 1.35 ERA for the month of August over 6 starts and has 2 W and 1 L (on 2 ER/7 IP) to show for it. One of the reasons I hate hearing about pitchers “knowing how to win” and all that stuff.

And speaking of win, I really liked seeing Wandy Win and Carpenter NOT win. I don’t like that guy, never have. Every time I see his mug I think about my Mama talking about this guy never mind who – big as an ox and half as smart. And I was glad that Michael Bourn led off the game with an infield single – he got caught stealing when Angel Sanchez effed up a hit and run. But anyway, the Astros were swinging early and often – 6 pitches total for the 1st, 7 for the 2nd and 7 for the 3rd. I knew we weren’t gonna get nohit, but maybe 1 hit? But Michael led off the 4th with a hard smash off Schumaker’s glove, then Angel Sanchez singled up the middle. Then Pence hit a hanging slider to deep center over Rasmus’ head and it rolled UP the Hill, and by the time Rasmus retrieved it and threw it back in, Bourn and Sanchez had scored. Clank struck out swinging, then CJ singled Pence home.

Only 3 runs, but fortunately, it was all Wandy needed.

Although he just might could have got hisself some serious high blood pressure when Byrdak came on in the 8th and immediately walked  pinch hitter Aaron Miles. Mills, to my surprise, pulled him right quick and sent in Wilton Lopez, who got out Rasmus and Uncle.

Brandon Lyon, uh, made things, uh, INteresting in the 9th – threw a first pitch FB right down the middle to Holliday, who doubled. Uh oh. Then he had fun with Yadi Molina – threw 4 pitches in almost the exact same spot – I mean, millimeters – and 2 were called strikes and 2 were balls and Yadi decided to swing at one of em – guess he couldn’t guess WHAT the call was gonna be and fortunately, he swung right through it. OK, 1 out. Feliz grounded out. OK, 2 out.

Then he walked Schu – and all those balls were WAAAAYYY out of the zone. And now Randy Winn is up and Lyon looks VERY tired and no one is up in the pen. 4 pitches, more borderline funfunfun, it’s 2 and 2 and Winn does Lyon a favor by swinging at a pitch at his neck and game ovah.

And we have shut out the Cards for the second straight game. Carpenter being the shutout pitcher is just icing on the cake.

Tomorrow afternoon, it’s Nelson Figueroa vs Jeff Suppan.

Would be nice to sweep…

Happ-y Astros Shut Out Happ-Less Cards

Monday, August 30th, 2010

JA Happ pitched the 3rd Astros complete game this year, a 3-0 shutout of the Cards. Unlike his previous starts, he threw mostly strikes, going to only three 3 ball counts. One walk, 2 singles, 1 GIDP (from Uncle). And that was really all she wrote.

It was a nice quick Roy-O style game – 2 hrs, 1 min, first pitch to last – probably because there was exactly 1 mound conference – the Cards in the 7th. And only 1 pitching change, and that was to start an inning.  I LIKEY!!!! It’s true that all the running out to the mound, stepping out, stepping on, stepping off makes games incredibly more boring and I wish the time limits were enforced (yeah, they are ALREADY ML rules, but not enforced…)

Jake Westbrook wasn’t bad – 9 hits, 1 walk, FOUR GIDP (Castro had 2, Clank had 1, Sanchez had 1) and gave up only 3 hard hit balls (only 1 was an out – Manzella’s flyout to the wall at the RF bullpen) and the other 2, both singles, drove in runs. Pence singled and Clank drove him in with a double down the RF line that had some funny bouncing after it hit just inside the line.

CJ broke his ofer 9 with a single in the 7th, then Brett Wallace, who went 3 fer 3 – yeah, he DID, and now he’s hitting about 20 points under his weight!!! drove him in with a double to the LF bullpen wall.

Oh yeah – and we had our all rookie infield tonight – Wallace, Sanchez, Manzella, Johnson, Castro. Manzella made awesome plays all night long, Sanchez made a fabulous catch of Miles’ pop fly into shallow right center, Wallace made a nice DP when he caught Rasmus’ liner and doubled off Yadi Molina in the 8th. Castro called a great game and Happ shook him off once.

Manzella hustled BIG time to beat out a crucial infield single in the 8th. And speaking of hustle, Carlos Lee, yes, CARLOS LEE hustled in the 4th – when Wallace was up, he had second easily stolen, only it was a foul and then on the next pitch, he ran HARD from first to third when Wallace singled. In fact, this August was the first month this year that he hit his usual career numbers – .295/.339/.514/.854. He SAYS he’s worked out his troubles with his swing, seeing the ball, etc. OK, but he’s got to do it for more than 1 month, seeing as how we’re prolly stuck with him for 2 more years, unless Drayton wants to eat more dough.

Tomorrow, it’s the Wand Man vs Chris Carpenter. Root root root for the Wand Man. Especially because I don’t like Carpenter…

In Which Jason Bourgeois Saves Wilton Lopez, Tim Byrdak And The Victory Against Johan Santana

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Yeah, we beat Johan Santana for the second time this month. Hard to believe, yeah. Once more, he gave up 4 runs over 7 innings. The lineup was almost perfect – Bourgy in left, Pence in right, Bourn in center, Manzella at short and Sanchez at second. No effing Anderson Hernandez. ANYWHERE. And, naturally, no Brett Wallace at first because he hits leftys better than rightys – once more it was Clank, trying to play first. Well, he plays first better than left, but that isn’t saying real too much, I know…

Bourgy led off and Michael hit second (for the first time this year, I think) so Bourgy had a lead off single, Michael hit into what SHOULD have been a 4-6-3 but they didn’t turn it, then Pence singled, Clank singled and Michael scored, then CJ flew out to center, but not deep enough for Pence to go to third, then Angel Sanchez walked, then Tommy Manzella beat out an infield single to third and Pence scored.

Tommy, by the way, went 3 fer 4 and showed Mills what a REAL shortstop looks like with the glove, so hopefully, we’ve seen the last of Anderson Hernandez.

Michael Bourn singled, was HBP, scored 2 runs and darn near grounded into a 1-6-3 in the 8th – he was only saved because Santana had a crappy throw to the SS, who had to take a fraction of a second to double step to tag second, and he made a throw to first which pulled the 1B off the bag, otherwise Michael woulda been out by a full stride.

CJ was completely lost against Santana and took the sombrero. Carlos drove in 3 with a single and a homer.

And the Astros pitching and fielding (Tommy Manzella is really REALLY good) shut down the Mets until Wilton Lopez came in in the 8th. He ran into bad luck – Luis Castillo led off with an infield single to short – one of those slow rollers – Tommy gloded forward, made a fabulous scoop and throw, but Castillo beat it out by a hair. Wilton got lucky when CB Bucknor at first called a ball hit over the 1B bag by the Jackal as foul, and he grounded out with Castillo going to second. Then Wilton got a bunch more grounders, but unfortunately, they just found holes – and some days, ground balls do that. David Wright hit one that Sanchez couldn’t get to, driving in Castillo, then Ike Davis hit another, then with 2 on, Jeff Francoeur got himself out swinging wildly at 3 pitches which were all out of the zone – the last one was somewheres near his neck.

With lefty Josh Thole coming up (Jerry Manuel never lets him bat against leftys – this year he’s had exactly 10 PA appearances vs leftys) Lopez was pulled and Byrdak came in. He went to 2-2, then Thole lined a rope to shallow left center and Bourgeois with his great glove and speed nabbed it – Clank wouldn’t have gotten anywheres NEAR that ball and a run would have scored fer SHER.

Odd managing decision with the Astros batting in the 8th – with 2 out, Manzella singled, the Quintero singled. With a righty pitcher, Mills decided to send in Blum, who has been out with a stiff neck (or something, who knows, they lie) which made Jerry Manuel go straight to his pen to send in the lefty. Blum can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag righty, so why didn’t he send in Michaels in the first place?

shrug

Fortunately, we didn’t need the run(s) in the 8th or the 9th and Lyon came in and got 1,2,3 out.

This afternoon, it’s Bud Norris vs the knuckleballer RA Dickey – a few weeks back he threw 8.1 innings, giving up 9 hits, 1 walk, 2 ER and 6 K. We gots to hope that the knuckleball doesn’t knuckle.

Bud threw 7 innings of 2 hit, 2 walk, 2 run ball. I hope to gawd that Bucknor isn’t the HP ump. Dana De Muth was the ump for this game, and he’s good and he’s fair – Bucknor is neither…

8/28/10: Stephen Strasburg, Mr. Murphy And Money

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

As everyone who watches baseball or any sports broadcast knows, 22 year old Stephen Strasburg, last year’s #1 draft pick, the 22 year old supposed gonna be an ace de la ace forEVAHpitcher, hurt his elbow and has to have an operation and will be out for a year. Even then he may not return to being The Strasburg with the Exciting 100 MPH fastball!!!!!!!! for a year. Or he may be like Lidge and have to slow it down by 10% in order to succeed and who would want to watch him if he threw only 90 instead of 100? Too many people are enthralled by velocity itself and bored by results.

Interesting that so few are saying, well, elbows get hurt, it is how things go. Most are wanting to know why WHY WHY did this happen???!!! The Nationals, as well as his college team, supposedly Did Everything Right – no overuse, no abuse, not making him pitch tired or hurt, etcetcetc. Supposedly, stuff like this didn’t happen BITGOD.

Sure it did. Guys who injured their arms as teens, in the minors or the majors didn’t have the option of tendon replacement surgery, they were just ineffective and out of baseball. I’ve chatted with more than a few guys who were stud pitchers (so they say) in school or college or minors and hurt wrist/arm/shoulder/hip/foot/leg and after repair, just couldn’t play as well – or play at all because they couldn’t/didn’t get it fixed in such a way that they were even the same player after healing/rehab.

There were never, and I mean NEVER tons of pitchers who threw 200-300 innings every year for many years without injuries. If you don’t believe me, go to baseball-reference.com. Pick a team (not the Yankees) and look at the roster in 1930, check the pitchers, games started and innings pitched. Go to 1931, do the same. And every year until 1939. See how many pitchers threw even 200, not 300, innings a year every year for 10 years. Then look at the few who did, and you will see that darn near all of them are in the HOF. And, by the way, check out guys who threw 200+ innings their first year and didn’t make it through the next year – there are plenty of them.

But too many people won’t look at the actual FACTS because they prefer to think that today’s pitchers are effeminate, babied weaklings and BITGOD, ALL pitchers were like Nolan Ryan (who, by the way, WAS injured at age 21 and didn’t start pitching full time until age 25) or Bob Feller or Warren Spahn. Very few guys even lasted 3 straight years in the majors, even though there were only 16 teams and LOTS of minor league teams with some VERY good players who never had much of a chance. And there simply were not as many good hitters (check out teams not named the Yankees from 1920 to 1970) and very few pitchers threw any 95-100 MPH, if any of them did. And if they did, it may have been only for the Ted Williams quality hitters, not the middle infielders. AND remember that guys didn’t take pitches and striking out was a REALLY Terrible “Not Playing The Game The Right Way” Thing and grounding out/popping up was a Good Thing. They swung early and often – you disbelieve me, go watch ESPN classic sometimes, even games from the 70s/80s were incredibly different Before Video. They ALL (except Ted) choked up on the bat after 2 strikes and made every attempt to ground out/popup so they wouldn’t K. And check out the pitches, too – not real too many starters like Verlander. Most guys were a lot more like Moehler/Nelson Figueroa.

 The BITGOD thing is another one of zillions of Garden of Eden fantasies.

But truth is that ANYONE can get injured at ANY time. It could be as simple as just being distracted for a fraction of a second by a runner, a bird in the sky, an itch, planting your foot just a teensy bit wrong, not getting your arm/shoulder/hips/feet aligned just perfect and when you make your body move in a destructive, unnatural way, and you don’t have everything perfectly timed, well, it sure nuff is easy to tear something if you put the wrong kind of stress on something. Heck, I’ve read about guys who have injured themselves by SNEEZING.

These days, seems us people all insist that If You Do “Everything Right” Then Nothing Can Go Wrong. And if something does, SOMEONE is to blame, and there HAS to be a reason other than Murphy’s Law (if something can go wrong, it will go wrong) and Mr/Ms Murphy shows up at the darndest places and the darndest times. Sometimes stuff happens for which there is no particular reason and there is no one to BLAME and there is no FAULT. Stuff happens. Bad Luck exists. It just does. Life is not predictable the way people think it should be. Sometimes, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and there IS no fault.

People have different DNA and even with athletes with special DNA which gives them unbelieveable eyesight and hand-eye coordination (just think – from less than 60 feet away you can spot a red spot on a round object traveling at least 80 MPH and not only that, you can react so incredibly fast that you can swing a thin stick and hit that 5″ diameter ball. I doubt that most people could hit an object with the kind of motion and speed a ML pitch haws if the object was 2′ wide…) And for whatever reason, those people’s tendons and bones and muscles are just the littlest bit different from each others and so some large strong (like that makes a difference) males are as fragile as china dolls and some males just never seem to get hurt.

And Strasburg (and the Nats and the Strasburg fans) just interacted with Mr/Ms Murphy.

I get so tired of all the incessant comments about how Strasburg SHOULD have been fine because he is SOOOOOOOOO big. Really. And the reason small guys like Maddux and Glavine pitched for 20 years without getting hurt or going on the DL is, um, well, uh. “Large” does not keep anyone off the DL. “Large” is another one of those myths that will NOT die. There is exactly NO difference in injury rate of pitchers of different sizes/weights. People simply believe that bigger = better and no amount of icky FACTS gonna change their beliefs.

And, subject 2, everyone is now screaming that it is SUCH a terrible thing that the Nats paid 15 mill to Strasburg to sign him and now they are gonna lose a year. OR maybe more!!!!!

I see.

So are those self same people gonna start screaming that if the Nats had picked him in the 30th round, paid him a sack of chewing gum and he had turned into a Super Ace that they should pay him like a Super Ace and not the minimum league payment for 3 straight years? Please.

Same thing with any free agent they sign. You can sign a guy who never had a headache and first week out, he sneezes, throws out his shoulder or ribs, or whatever, bends over conks his head and that’s the end. OR he’s minding his own business and suddenly one of those baseball shoving matches breaks out and someone falls all over him and he gets a knee in the face and is out concussed forever.

youneverknow. you REALLY never know.

Teams gamble that they will make money off the player and the player gambles that he will make money off the team (except for Gary Sheffield who was constantly griping that he should be paid more and never offered to refund money if he didn’t live up to expectations – imagine that) but a whole lot of people, especially media types, use Strasburg to point out how the draft “is broken” because the Nats are losing a year of Strasburg. I don’t see them pointing out how Evan Longoria who was a hitting stud from the word GO is and was the most underpaid player in MLB, given his accomplishments, and that he will most likely never ever be paid anything like his true worth.

But that is fine because a whole lot of people really think that professional ballplayers SHOULD be paid like minor leaguers and have to do crappy jobs in the offseason to eat. Or live off their parents/rich women. Or something. They have no problem with ownership making 130 mill a year instead of 30 mill a year. They have this silly fantasy that seat prices are related to the payroll, which is why you see all the low payroll teams selling their seats at 1980 prices, right? That and the fact that they resent the fact that professional athletes get paid a lot of money when they themselves could do the same for FREE. Which explains why minor league games draw hundreds of thousands per game, unlike MLB.

If people really think that professional athletes should ONLY be paid according to performance, and shouldn’t get a penny if they get hurt, then they should be paid HUGE sums per year if they excel, right? Seeing as how they shouldn’t have contracts guaranteed (how is an unguaranteed “contract” a “contract” at all? If one party doesn’t have to adhere to it, why does the other party? Sounds like BITGOD where men got to cheat on their wives and that was fine and dandy, but the wife didn’t get to cheat on her husband, even though they took the same vows of monogamy…)

So if you want to change drafts so that athletes get some small “slot”bonus to keep them from playing some other sport or not playing at all, then you also have to change the pay structure and pay them according to their true value on the field, which should be a premeasured, agreed upon percent of the team’s moneys received – and this has to include baserunning and fielding, not just hitting, or BA/RBI). which means that a guy who comes up and hits like Albert Pujols did his first year should be paid like a 10 year star, not a league minimum AND should receive what SHOULD have been his slot bonus too, right?

What, you don’t like that neither?

Gee, what a surprise…

8/27/10: Astros Play Lousy And Mets Hand Them A Well Deserved Loss

Friday, August 27th, 2010

It started in the first inning. Mike Pelfrey threw 2 pitch strikes on the upper outer corner, then couldn’t find the zone with a telescope and Bourn fouled off 3 pitches out of the zone, then walked. Anderson Hernandez, not exactly any good, was batting second. And for reasons I do NOT get, Michael was hugging the bag tighter than some big fat slug. He didn’t run on 1-0. He didn’t run even after he saw that Pelfrey and Blanco had NO idea where the pitches were going and he had THREE opportunities for easy steals, but noooooo.

So when Hernandez swung on a high pitch and flew out to shallow center, Bourn was glued to second, and when Pence singled up the RF line, instead of scoring, he ended up at third – and I don’t want to hear about Francoeur’s arm – for some reason, he has this Jesse Barfield rep which is totally undeserved.

Then Clank swung at THREE pitches WAAAYYY out of the zone – WTF???!!!! – CJ walks on FOUR pitches, and Brett Wallace is up with bases loaded, 2 outs. He swung at ball 3 – which was high, and what was probably ball 4 – but was at least borderline and almost unhittable.

And that was the HIGH point of the Astros night.

Figgy came out, and like Pelfrey, couldn’t find the strike zone with a searchlight. Well, after the first hitter, who flied out to Bourn. Then Luis Castillo singled up the middle – that wasn’t the problem. Figgy threw wildly to second, trying to pick off Castillo, who has long since lost his legs. Wallce fell over Castillo, had to chase the ball and Castillo ended up on second, then went to third on a VERY wild pitch (Brad Ausmus wouldn’t have gotten that one neither), Beltran walked and it was 1 out, men on first and third.

Then the absolutely bullstuff happened. David Wright hit a popup to shallow center. Bourn, a gold glove fielder, the fastest man in the NL, was running forward to catch the ball and Anderson Hernandez was running toward the OF and called for the ball – either he was called off by Bourn, ignored it, or Bourn had to pull up because he would have collided, but he would have EASILY had that ball. Hernandez was flat out STUPID to go and get that ball and call off Bourn because he was running toward the OF, he wouldn’t have been able to throw out Bengie Molina, he threw wildly to home – was so incredibly offline that the ball skipped by Castro and Beltran ended up on second. It SHOULD have stayed men on first and third, 2 outs.

I really would like to know why on earth Mills is playing Hernandez so much. He has absolutely NO redeeming qualities. NONE. He can’t hit for average, power, can’t play even average defense, can’t throw, can’t field, can’t steal, can’t run. And all this is worse than Tommy Manzella? Hernandez is not a rookie, learning how to play. He is taking valuable time from a rookie, and THIS year, there is no, and I mean NO excuse for this crap.

And then both pitchers just went up, threw strikes and the guys went down 1,2,3 in the second, and third, with the only excitement being Angel Pagan’s excellent running catch on Bourn’s shot to left – would have been a triple if he had missed it.

Figgy lost all control in the 4th, gave up a single and 2 walks to load the bases, then issued a walk to a guy who is 1 for his last 50 (or something like that) to allow another Mets run (actually, the winning run), then got lucky when the pitcher hit into a DP (guess they didn’t want to risk a squeeze, don’t ask me why – maybe Pelfrey can’t bunt well). Astros didn’t do well in out half neither, Clank lined out, then CJ doubled. Brett Wallace struck out on 11 pitches after taking 2 balls, 1 called strike and fouling off 4 which were out of the zone and was caught looking on a perfect pitch inside which was belt high. He’s not even having good fouls. Angel Sanchez then singled to shallow right and CJ ran right through the stop sign at third – and he slowed down as he passed the bag (seriously, WHAT???!!!) and was a dead duck. Not that he had any reason to think that Castro would drive him in, yeah, I know, but still, you have to be Bourn fast to pull that off.

In the 5th, with 2 out, Bourn singled and was caught stealing. He didn’t go early in the count, when he actually had a good chance – he went on a 2-2 after a few fouls and he got a BAD and late jump. He just seemed off it rtoday.

Figgy got lucky because he still couldn’t find the zone and the first 2 batters got themselves out on pitches out of the zone and Beltran hit the only ball actually IN the zone, but was just a little under it and flew out.

Only excitement in the 6th was Francoeur getting hit by an errant slider, then stealing second on a ball way outside. In the 7th, Wallace FINALLY broke his ofer streak – hit s single to left on an outside pitch off the end of the bat, but Sanchez and Castro stranded him needing only 3 pitches to get themselves out. Good grief.

No excitement until the 8th – Bourgeois hit a pinch single, then Bourn GIDP 3-6-3. That is his 4th one this year. sigh. Not a good day for the boy.

Melancon pitched a 1,2,3 8th.

Then in the 9th, they sent in Parnell, who gave up a single to Clank, who went to second when Angel Pagan booted the ball – even the best of fielders have effups every now and then. CJ singled, then lefty Takahashi came in (here and I thought he was starting – guess times change) and pinch hitter Michaels singled to drive in Clank. Angel Sanchez took 3 balls, then a borderline called strike, then fouled off one, then missed a fat one down the middle, fouled another one off, then popped up the last pitch – he had to swing, it woulda been strike 3 if he didn’t. Then Tommy Manzella was sent in – got called out on one of those strikes low and on the black – you GOTS to foul them off. He didn’t think that strike 3 was a strike, but it was. The ump only got 3 calls wrong all night – he did a VERY good job with calls, I thought – and he had the same zone for both pitchers and all players.

sigh

That was truly a sorry ass game – guys best show up tomorrow because we’re facing Johan Santana and yes I know we beat him a week ago back home, but that was then and this is now…

Michael Bourn Drives In 1, Steals 2 And Scores From Second On An Infield Single

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Remember a couple years back when Michael Bourn scored all the way from second on a Berkman sac-fly to deep center? I thought that outside of Wandy hitting a homer, that nothing could possibly be more absolutely kewl – well, maybe if Michael reached on error, then went to second on a WP, went to third on a balk then stole home. But this afternoon, I watched Michael reach on a ball hit off the pitcher’s glove (somehow, when the pitcher went to chase the ball, his shoe fell off – really, I swear it), get picked off but steal second anyhow and slide under the tag, and when Anderson Hernandez hit a chopper to third, Polanco picked it up, threw to first, not in time to get Hernandez – a little high, then he turned on the afterburners, flew home and slid in ahead of Ryan Howard’s perfect throw to Ruiz.

This is what makes Michael so exciting. I mean besides all the great fielding. He went 8 fer 20 with a HOMER!!! 4 runs, 2 RBI and 4 SB. And he really should have had another RBI but they held Castro at third when he could have scored – guess they figured Anderson Hernandez would drive him in?

Wandy didn’t have his best stuff today, but somehow he kept on mowin em down – gave up no hits until Werth singled to lead off the 5th. He went to 3rd on an Ibanez double, then tried to score on a fly ball to shallow center – but Pence was coming forward as he caught it and made a perfect throw to Castro and Werth was dead meat. I suppose he could have played Pete Rose to Ray Fosse, but he didn’t.

Wandy finally gave up a run in the 7th – Ben Francisco singled, then Jimmy Rollins hit a smash to third – CJ made another really great play, threw to Hernandez, who again couldn’t complete the DP. He’s not exactly a very nimble guy for a middle infielder – reminds me of Jeff Kent, except that Kent, for all his statue-like-ness was really good at turning the DP. I see why other Organizations keep getting tired of him – they’d usually put up with the lowe BA/OBP/SLG if he was a great glove, but he’s not. Anyway, Utley hit a ball into the RF corner and Rollins scored standing up and slowing as he reached the plate.

Since Castro started catching Wandy on June 24, Wandy hasn’t pitched fewer than 6 innings. He’s pitched 3 games giving up 0 runs, 6 games giving up 1 run (and has ND in 3 of those), 1 game with 2 runs, 1 with 3 and 1 with 5. I think the difference is that Castro is MUCH better framing pitches than Quintero – his weakness is blocking balls in the dirt, but he’s much better with the curve because it is slower and Wandy doesn’t throw a slider. Wandy’s ERA has gone from 6.09 to 3.87. His post ASB ERA is something like 1.70. Of course nobody notices…

And speaking of Castro, he singled and he doubled down the LF line today – good. I hope this might could get him hitting.

Brett Wallace is looking completely lost. His timing is off – he pops up, has weakass grounders, looks like Pedro Feliz (not good) except he is good at walking and getting HBP.

Angel Sanchez is not nearly as good with the glove as Manzella – I’d rather see him at second and Manz at short until Kepp gets back. I have no idea why Mills is playing Hernandez so much.

CJ was ofer again – at least he only swung at 1 pitch out of the zone and it wasn’t strike 3. He made 2 really REALLY good plays, and I mean good. I think his errors are him getting overeager to try to get an out, especially on a ball which really shouldn’t be thrown anyway because infield singles happen.

No stupid ump stuff – the HP ump only missed 1 pitch and there weren’t any close calls, except for Wandy getting thrown out at second on a WP – looks to me as if he was safe and he got his foot in ahead of hte tag, but the ball beat him and he’s a pitcher and well, that’s how things go. wandy was on first because he’d smashed a hanging breaker of some kind off the RF wall and unfortunately, it rolled straight to Werth and Wandy ain’t Michael.

Fulchino pitched a 1,2 walk, 3 8th.

Fernando Abad came in to mop up the 9th, got 2 quick outs, then gave up a single that Sanchez couldn’t get to (that Manzella would have had – I saw him make that play twice last night), then a single to left. And with a righty coming up to pinch hit, I fully expected Mills to pull him and send in some righty, but to my surprise, Arnesberg went out and Abad stayed in (although Lyon started warming up).

That AB took like FOREVER because Abad didn’t want to pitch what Castro wanted, or he couldn’t understand the signs, but he kept stepping off – and Castro went out to the mound THREE times before Ruiz finally flew out to Bourn.

But this was a 4 game sweep of the Phils – we kick ASS at their park, for some reason – they swept us back in April at the Box.

We’re off to see the Mets and Pelfrey (who gived us a whuppin a week ago) and we’ll see if Nelson Figueroa can beat his old team. Looks as if Figgy is gonna be our new Moehler, who re-injured his groin/abdomen – pulled muscle, bad tendon – something – and needs season ending surgery. I’ll go for that – he seems to be about the same kind of pitcher, only shorter and cheaper. My favorite kind…

Brandon Lyon Has A 2 Inning Save To Back Happ’s Win Over Halliday

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Well, I know he dood it, but I don’t know HOW he dood it. He doesn’t have awesome stuff, he went to 5 three ball counts, but somehow he gave up only 5 hits, 2 walks 1 homer, 2 runs over 6.1 IP.  He got a little lucky and unlucky in the 6th, when with Halliday on second and Victorino on first, Polanco hit a ball to the LF wall that Clank misplayed – it really SHOULD have been caught, but he took a bad route, let it hit the ground and bounce off the wall, and Halliday scored, and for some reason I do NOT get, they held Victorino, who is almost Bourn fast, at third. It is absolutely ridiculous that not getting a very catchable ball isn’t called an error, but even Roy Oswalt would have made that play in left. But then Happ then got out Utley and Werth. Amazing.

And when the game first started, I thought that fer SHER Halliday was gonna throw a nono. 11 hitters, 34 pitches, then Pence came to bat, Halliday threw a FB up and in and Pence sent it over the left center wall. SUCH a relief – no  perfect game, no shutout. CJ singled to lead off the 5th, then Wallace GIDP. (The boy is having some trouble adjusting to ML pitching, just like Castro and Manzella and NO, I most positively do NOT want any of those guys sent down. And, in fact, I would like to see Anderson Hernandez and his long ML history of suckage kept mostly on the bench – he’s just Matt Kata all over again.) And Manzella is most definitely exponentially better with the glove than Sanchez. Even though he’s apparently forgotten all his Baggy lessons and is again mostly hitting the ball to short.

Oh yes – so in the 6th, Happ grounded out to lead off, then Michael Bourn, yes, MICHAEL “Mr. Infield Singles” Bourn golfed a pitch like a GOOD 380-400′ into the RF stands. Roy “Ace-Man” Halliday has just given up TWO homers to Astros hitters. I mean, we are talking about the guy who has given up no runs at ALL in 9 of his 26 starts.

In the 7th, CJ doubled to right, then Quintero drove him in with a single to left. And Quintero was most DEFINITELY the game’s hero. No question – not only did he drive in the winning run, but he saved the game before Brandon Lyon picked up a baseball. And this is the story.

Happ, to my surprise, comes out to start the 7th – Wilton Lopez was all warmed up and ready, but no. So Sweeney singles, Ben Francisco hits what SHOULD have been a GIDP ball to 3rd, but Hernandez can’t turn the play in time and it’s a FC.

Then Mills plays musical relievers. He pulls Happ and sends in Lopez, our best reliever, to face Ruiz. Good job, I woulda done the same. Ruiz singles to left, and then Manuel sends lefty Ibanez up to pinch hit for Halliday. But Mills pulls Lopez, HIS BEST RELIEVER, and sends in Byrdak, who gets Ibanez out. Then, Mills pulls Byrdak because he doesn’t want him to face Jimmy Rollins. So he sends in Melancon. (Mills REALLY thinks that Lopez can’t get out either Ibanez or Rollins? Are you KIDDING me????) And Rollins takes a strike, swings and misses, takes a ball, fouls one off, then there’s another ball in the dirt, which Q blocks, then he sees that Francisco has wandered off third, and he fires down to CJ and PICKS OFF FRANCISCO!!!

Amazing.

And then, of course, Brandon Lyon comes in and slams the door – 2 innings, 22 pitches. Gave up a single to Ryan Howard, who poked a ball through the 5.5 hole to beat the shift.

And tomorrow afternoon, it’s Wandy vs Kyle Kendrick. Would be very nice to sweep there Wand-man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8/25/10: Michael Bourn Hits A Home Run Off Roy Halliday!!!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

This deserves its own entry, dontcha think?

It didn’t go 565′

it wasn’t helped by wind

it wasn’t off a mistake pitch – was down and in, as a matter of fact.

But Michael Bourn homering off an ultra ace like Halliday – all I can say is that ah LUUUUVVVVVS baseball…

In Which Wilton Lopez Blows The Save, I Go To Bed And Miss Roy-O Play LF and CJ Drive In The Winning Run

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I guess Wilton Lopez, who had been perfect for SO long, was gonna throw a bad pitch sooner or later. But I’m getting ahead of myself, here.

I would have said, a long time ago, that I LUUUUVVVVV 6 PM game starts because I can watch it all and be finished writing my writeup by the time I get the last kid in bed. But things change – and between feeding kids and dogs, getting kids started on (shudder) homework and who knows what, I missed the first inning. And of course, there were lots of interruptions because Certain Kids, who had exactly zero interest in watching games during the summer, suddenly have developed this intense Astros Fanhood, in which they can’t bear to not watch a single pitch (instead of doing homework, you feelin me here).

So by the time their Daddy got home, got fed and got going, it was the 4th inning and Pence had singled and then Carlos Lee had homered. And here it is noon the next day, and I’m just getting time to going back to the replay. Babies and toddlers are easy. Kids take TONS of time.

So, the important points: once again, Brett Wallace was benched against a lefty, with Clank playing 1B. Bud Norris is looking as if he has turned the corner, he really is. One of the things that rookie pitchers have to deal with is to not lose focus/concentration when the HP umps don’t call a strike a strike – especially when they have called that exact same pitch a strike on an earlier occasion or for the other pitcher.

In the second inning, Bud threw 30 pitches. With 2 outs, he walked Victorino (and yes, those balls WERE balls) and then he got overly distracted, trying to keep him on first, then balked. He had Ruiz struck out on pitch #5, but Victorino stealing 3rd distracted the HP ump, and a pitch RIGHT in the strike zone was called ball 2 instead of strike 3 (actually, ball 1 SHOULD have been strike 2, but I digress) and the next pitch was ball 4 (it really was). Hamels was then up with runners on first and third. He swung at the first 2 pitches, and the next pitch was called Ball 1 instead of Strike 3 – it was a FB right at the top of the zone – INSIDE the zone, but noooooo. But Bud kept his cool and FINALLY got Hamels out.

Third inning, Hamels gets 1,2,3 outs on 12 pitches. Bud goes back out – gets Rollins out on 3 pitches, gets Polanco out on 2 – and Strike 1 (called a strike the last 2 innings for Bud) was called Ball 1, gave up a single to Utley on 3 pitches and got Howard out on 2 with a lineout to center. What was good is that for all 3 innings, Bud kept the ball down, except for the deliberate high FB, and only had 1 pitch mid plate – the second pitch to Howard in the 3rd, whose swing was just a leeeeeetle off – good thing for Bud.

Fourth inning, Bud was handed a 2 run lead and went out there with grim determination. He got lucky with Jayson Werth – left a ball in the middle of the plate and it was fouled off. But he got him out, then got Ibanez to GO, walked Victorino on 5 pitches (and yes they really were all balls) then got Ruiz to flyout – threw over a few pickoff throws, but didn’t lose focus this time.

Fifth inning, he got Hamels out on 4 pitches, Rollins out on 4 pitches (and Ball 1 should have been Strike 1) then watched his first 2 pitches to Polanco get called balls, even though they were most definitely in the strike zone (lower outside corner) and had definitely been called strikes before (I hate to say it, but I think that some of this is the fact that Q is lousy at framing pitches – I’ve said this for YEARS) but kept at it and got him out on the 6th pitch. I’ve lost count of how many pitches in the strike zone were called balls – AND he didn’t get any pitches OUT of the strike zone called strikes.

6th inning, at 89 pitches, he went back out, got Utley out on 4 pitches (and another strike called a ball – midplate, right above the knees) then got Howard out swinging – good thing, too, because the ump probably would have called that sllider a ball. Then Werth singled – after 2 pitches called balls which were strikes (you notice a pattern here? And watching the mlb replay, even the Phils announcers are surprised at how many pitches are not called strikes) and Ibanez doubled to the LF corner – ball 1 was strike 1 (the Phils announcers noticed) and then ball 1 was called strike 1 (Phils announcers groused) then Victorino singled. With Ruiz up and Domonic Brown on deck, Bud threw a ball, did that sillyass fake to third fake to first thingy (WHY on earth do pitchers do that? All it does is risk a balk, which you do NOT wanna do with a guy on 3rd – and it never gets anyone out anyway) then got Ruiz to flyout to Bourn.

And there you go – 6 tough, gritty innings, DEFINITELY not exactly helped by the HP umpire’s crappy and inconsistant strike zone.

Since Bud came back from the DL, he has had only 2 of 11 starts in which he didn’t go 6 innings – before that, he had only 1 start out of 9 in which he went more than FIVE innings – 8 innings against, naturally, St. Louis. One thing I noticed this game is that Bud used his changeup effectively – only 10 of em in 108 pitches, but he threw all but 1 for strikes, got 2 of his 18 outs with them. Earlier this year, he either couldn’t throw the changeup for a strike, it had no movement on it, or it was down the middle. Bud pretty much kept the ball down, painted the corners, and had good movement on his pitches.

Bud’s July ERA was 3.73 and his August ERA is 3.58. I really REALLY hope that this is something permanent – he’s beaten 4 good teams this month (of course, he’s had outstanding run support in 2 starts in which he gave up 4 runs) and so it isn’t just him beating lousy teams.

And the rest of the game?

Well, I watched Byrdak come in the 7th, walk the first 2 guys, then get 3 outs. I watched Gustavo Chacin come in in the 8th, get 2 outs, then give up a double (ahem) to Ibanez on what SHOULD have been an easy single to center, only Michael Bourn, of all people, booted the ball. Ibanez, one of the 5 slowest runners in the majors, decided to go to third and SHOULD have been dead meat, but Sanchez, the cutoff man, dropped the throw from Pence and made it into third. With switch hitting Victorino coming up, Mills pulled Chacin and sent in our best reliever, Lopez. Who got Victorino out.

When Lopez came back out in the 9th, I knew that Lyon wasn’t gonna pitch tonight, but figured, no problem, Lopez is Da Man. So I let the kids stay up to watch him get the last 3 outs, even though it was most DEFINITELY bedtime on a Tuesday night, and he breezed through the first 3 outs, then went to 3-1 on Rollins, threw a mid-plate, thigh high FB, which Rollins popped up into the RF seats, just left of the foul pole to tie the game.

sigh

Then, of course, I had to get the kids settled and into bed – and they, uh, resist this, not seeing why on earth a good night’s sleep is necessary for skool, and by the time I got everyone in bed, I was tired, it was late and Fernando Abad had managed to throw 2 scoreless innings (which I didn’t think possible – GLAD to be wrong) giving up a single, no walks and 3 Ks,  watched the top of the 12th in which Michael Bourn came in with 2 on, 2 outs, the game on the line, and grounded out. Melancon came in to pitch the bottom of the 12th, gave up a bloop single but got 3 outs, and I was just too tired to stay up and watch, having been up since around 4:30 AM.

So I missed the 14th. JMike struck out swinging, CJ singled, then Tommy grounded into his SECOND DP of the night – hadn’t been his night at all – he’d been called out on strikes his last AB on a FB at LEAST 4″ off the plate. Then Melancon came back out, got 2 outs, gave up a single and a walk and it was Ryan Howard at the plate.

He fouled one off, then checked his swing on the next pitch. Only the 3B ump thought he’d gone around and called it a strike. Watching the replay, it sure nuff looked to ME as if he’d checked it – and I’m an Astros fan. Ryan was NOT happy and started yelling. The 3B ump looked grim, but Ryan calmed back down, went back into the box after walking around a bit to shake it off. He fouled one to the 1B line, then Melancon threw a breaker in the dirt, which Castro didn’t block (HIS weakness as a catcher, just like Q’s weakness is his lousiness at framing pitches) and both runners moved up, even though the ball didn’t roll far. Howard fouled another one off, then checked his swing on Ball 2. I mean, he didn’t even go as far around as he did the first time, but the 3B ump IMMEDIATELY called him out.

Howard immediately turned to him and screamed (and it was not the bad word that starts with F or C) and the 3B ump IMMEDIATELY tossed him. And Howard is not a guy who gets tossed – in fact, I think that Berkman has gotten tossed more often. Victorino, like a foot shorter and 100 lbs thinner, came in kind of grabbed Howard, tried to shove him backwards with his shoulder. There was a WHOLE lot of yelling, no contact, and finally a furious Howard stormed down the dugout stairs. I don’t blame him. It was a bullstuff call – and the 3B ump OBVIOUSLY did it because Howard had had a fit about the FIRST checked strike call.

Interesting because the 3B ump was the HP ump for the previous night’s game and I thought he had done an EXCELLENT job behind the plate with balls and strikes. INCREDIBLY better than tonight’s HP ump.

And some guy in the Phils dugout got tossed too – even though he’s on the DL. Pretty silly, you ask me.

So Roy Oswalt got sent in to play LF. And sure nuff, first out, top of the 15th, he catches a nice can of corn from Jason Castro. I love stuff like this – Kevin Cash pitching, pitchers fielding and pinch hitting (Wandy grounded out) when everyone has already been used up. As long as the season is not on the line, that is. It’s not like 05, when it seems that 1 of every like 4 games went into extra innings – and we lost them all…

Melancon ended up with 3 scoreless and Herndon, pitching his 3rd straight inning, gave up a single to Pence, then hit Wallace with the 9th pitch, then IBB Michaels to pitch to CJ and hopefully get an inning ending GIDP. And CJ hit a ball to 3rd, but it was smashed, Polance couldn’t handle it and Pence trotted home with the go-ahead run. Then Tommy Manzella, going for the trifecta in GIDPs was up. I mean, not even Brad Ausmus or Miggy Tejada had managed THAT feat. And sure nuff, he hit the ball RIGHT to short, but a sliding CJ broke up the DP and Manzella beat the throw into first and Wallace scored the insurance run. Fulchino struck out for the 3rd out. Yeah, the pitchers had to hit for themselves by then, you know.

So Fulchino had to slam the door – got the first 2 outs, then walked Polanco, IBBd Utley, and then Roy-O was up. And even though he isn’t on our team any more, it would have been teh KEWL if he had gotten a hit and tied it up again, but he grounded out and the Astros won after 5 something hours.

And tonight, all those tired guys have to go out and play at least 9. Happ faced Halliday. I wouldn’t be surprised if we get shutout.

In Which Carlos Lee Drives In The Winning Runs, Q Picks Off Werth And Brad Lidge Throw 81 MPH Sliders

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The game started off VERY well – Michael Bourn, who has suddenly remembered how to walk, hit and bunt, led off the game with an opposite field single, then stole second on the very next pitch. When he’s ON, he’s really just fun to watch. Angel Sanchez singled to right – dave Clark held up Bourn at 3rd because Werth can throw VERY well. Pence then hit a sac-fly to deep right center, Bourn trotted home, but Sanchez didn’t bother to tag up and go to second, which he really SHOULD have done as Victorino was at the deepest part of the park and moving backwards as he caught the ball. BAD baserunning. Carlos then hit a double which split the gap in deep right center, Victorino had to chase the ball, and somehow, Sanchez took off late or wasn’t running fast enough, and didn’t make a good slide, and Victorino hit Utley, the cutoff man, who threw a bullet to Ruiz and Sanchez was dead meat.

CJ then hit a fly ball to the RF line and with the ball falling fast and slicing away from Werth, he made a GREAT sliding catch to rob CJ – which was a shame because it was the only ball he hit all night. Dude has just GOT to stop swinging at and swinging through most of pitches thrown to him – he got called out in the 4th on a checked swing on a ball in the dirt – and when you swing at bout most ANYthing, the ump ain’t gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

For the next 4 innings, the Astros went down 1,2,3 as Joe Blanton pumped in strike after strike. Bourn singled to start the 6th, then stole second again, but was stranded on 3rd by Pence and Clank.

Meanwhile, the Phils, who went down 1,2,3 in the first and second, tied the game on a Carlos Ruiz homer. Then Valdez, the utility IF grounded out, Blanton singled up the middle, and Jimmy Rollins singled to shallow left center, and Clank booted the ball, allowing both runners to move up a base. Victorino hit a ball to first, and Wallace thew home to get Blanton trying to score. Wallace is deft and graceful – surprising in such a blocky looking guy. Then, of course, Utley singled home Rollins and the Phils led 2-1 and held the lead until the end of the 7th.

I most certainly Do have to give props to Quintero. In the bottom of the 6th, Werth doubled off the wall, Ibanez Kd, then they IBBd Ruiz, who has a nasty habit of pounding the ball with 2 outs and RISP. Q noticed that Werth haed wandered off second, and wasn’t really paying attention, and he fired to Sanchez, waiting at second and they picked off Werth to end the inning – not that Valdez was much of a threat, but just the same, better to have him leading off the next inning than a pinch hitter.

And indeed, he didn’t get a hit to lead off the bottom of the 7th, but pinch hitter Domonic Brown singled, then Jimmy Rollins singled (sometimes I check that guy’s BA/OBP and am surprised to see that he makes outs), then Victorino GIDP to end the inning and keep the lead at just 1 run.

Which really mattered because Ryan Madsen, who hadn’t given up a run (or let one score) this month, gave up a single to PH Jason Michaels. I know you are wondering why on earth Mr. LeftyRighty Matchup Manager let a righty bat against a righty – it’s because Blum’s neck is sore and Jason Castro isn’t hitting. Anyway, then the breaks went the Astros way. Bourn laid down a bunt single toward first – Ryan Howard fielded it and tried to tag Bourn out, but Bourn eluded the tag – stepped slightly outside the baseline to avoid it, managed to do so, and was called safe by the 1B ump – not that the HP ump, who was watching, disagreed.

Oh, and heck broke loose. Charlie Manuel wasn’t happy, although he didn’t pull a Pinella and scream or kick/throw bases, and finally got hisself tossed. I know you have to step more than just a couple of incles outside of the lines, as Bourn did to evade the tag, and the ump was actually right.

So then Sanchez laid down a nice sac-bunt to 3rd and there was a Meeting On The Mound to discuss whether or not to walk Pence and pitch to Clank or just pitch to em both.  Finally, they decided to pitch to Pence, and Madson struck him out on a FB around the shoulders. But the very next pitch, low, at the knees and inside, Clank poked over the third baseman into left and Michaels, with Bourn 10′ behind him, came roaring in to take the lead. CJ grounded out weakly to short.

Byrdak came in to pitch the 8th – actually, he’s pitching VERY well this year – Since June 1, he’s given up runs in exactly 2 of 31 appearances. He gave up a single to Werth, but got out leftys Utley, Howard and Ibanez.

Brad Lidge came on to pitch the top of the 9th, and I didn’t recognise him. Well, I mean, of COURSE I know what he looks like, duh, but I mean that his mechanics are completely different. He throws his FB around 90 and his slider around 81-82. I guess this is the result of all his knee/arm problems, but he is quite effective at lower velocities. The slider still had wicked movement and guys couldn’t hit it and couldn’t lay off. I know that everyone is supposd to hyperventilate and get all hex-cited about the MPH, but it ain’t the speed, it’s the motion.

Brandon Lyon came in to close out and immediately threw 3 pitches to Ruiz that weren’t even close. He then threw a gimmee strike, then another ball and I thought – oh noooooooooooes. But Valdez popped out, pinch hitter Polanco flew out to Bourn and Rollins lined out to Michaels in left.

Tomorrow, Bud Norris faces lefty Cole Hamels, who is 7-10 with a 3.51 ERA – proving that no matter how well you pitch, iffn you don’t get no run support, you might could Know How To Win, but you won’t.