I was VERY pleased to see Bogusevic playing left, Bourgeois playing center as Michael Bourn has a pulled rib muscle or something but was NOT thrilled to see Blum at short (at least it wasn’t Anderson Hernandez) and was thoroughly disgusted to see Clank lumbering at first – tells me that Wallace is probably toast. Too bad – he’d have to hit like Pujols to cling to first – guess they are gonna see if Bogu is up to playing left next year.
So Livan Hernandez, having a surprisingly good year for an Old Guy, mowed down Boogy, Kepp and Pence, who’s been in a bit of a slump since his Player Of The Week award, going 2 fer Milwaukee with 1 RBI and 1 fer Cincy with no RBIs.
Bud started the game off lousy – couldn’t find the strike zone, his release point or much of anything else, and he gave up 2 walks, a single and a double over 29 pitches and the Astros were down 2-0 just like that.
And it took Livan 10 pitches to cut down Clank, Blum and get CJ swinging – I swear he must swing at more pitches than any guy in the NL with as many ABs as he’s had – well, maybe Mark Reynolds does have him beat.
So Bud comes back, gets the rookie catcher, Wilson Ramos to groundout, then Livan, who can actually hit, singled, Espinosa, the rookie SS gloveman (and all yall think Tommy Manzella is a terrrible hitter) Kd, then Adam Kennedy hit a looper to shallow center and Bourgeois made a spectacular run forward, diving while rolling catch. Absolutely as good as Michael Bourn and absolutely no WAY would Jason Michaels ever EVER have made it – he would have taken it on a bounce.
Bogusevic was getting his first start since the disaster at Wrigley (the almost trifecta in GIDPs) and he sure nuff looked a lot more relaxed – and he most definitely positively CAN field – of course, we haven’t seen a GOOD left fielder out there since 06 and Luke Scott, who looked like Carl Crawford out there compared to Preston Wilson, Craig Biggio etc. So he got the first Astros hit, ripping a double down the LF line. Then Quintero, who had a good game, singled to right and it was men on first and third, no out and Bud Norris up. So Bud takes Ball 1, then lays down a perfect safety squeeze as Bogu runs home as the 3rd baseman moves in for the bunt. Second RBI of the year and Stros are only down by 1.
But Boogy flies out and Kepp Ks and leave Q on second.
Meanwhile, Bud is all psyched up from that RBI and shifted into overdrive getting 1,2,3 out on 11 pitches.
Fourth inning finished in 7 minutes as Pence, Clank and Blum bit the dust in 9 pitches, then Bud came back guns blazing and got 3 outs on 8 pitches – 1 ball.
Fifth inning got interesting. CJ doubled off the right field wall, then Bogu hit a ground ball to where the 1B usually stands, about 20′ to the left of first base when leftys are hitting, seeing as how they hit so many grounders there. So the ball goes to Dunn, who, for some reason, doesn’t either throw to 3rd, where he certainly would have gotten CJ, he doesn’t run to first, he tosses to Livan, running to first – the throw isn’t the greatest and Livan misses it, Bogu is safe, given a hit (don’t ask me why) and CJ scores the tying run on the error.
Livan looks all Up Set, but pitches to Quintero, who goes to 1-2 then hits a curve into the 4th row of the LF bleachers – looks like it would have been a Crawford Box homer too – and no it was NOT a mammoth homer, as the Astros radio announcers said – it looks as if it would have been in the second section of the CBoxes, toward the wall – not off the tracks or the wall. Honestly, those guys…
So with Q hitting the go ahead runs, Bud must have felt a lot more comfortable, and with no out and no on, he swings away and hits a flare into left and Willie Harris, channeling Clank, reaches up for what should have been an easy fly ball and misses it completely and Bud is on second, no outs. Really. Boogy Ks. Then Kepp singles to center and Bud, rounding third, stops and looks back, not sure why, guess because he’s a pitcher, and he sees Bernadina the CF drop the ball, so he just heads on home and it’s 5-2 Astros. It was called an error because Bud had stopped for some reason – I mean seriously, Clank woulda scored on that single and Bud could outrun him by 20′ every day and twice on Sunday.
Then Pence flies out for the second out (the boy is struggling) and then Clank singles to left. Blum comes up and hits an 84 MPH FB right smack dab down the middle of the strike zone off the upper deck in right, where it falls into the bullpen and the Astros lead 8-2. CJ Ks on 3 pitches out of the zone. sigh.
Three errors, 7 runs. Thank you Nats.
Bud comes back out, strikes out the first 2, gives up a single to right, gets a groundout, 11 pitches. The boy is cruising.
6th inning, new pitcher, righty Craig Stammen, who was put in the bullpen after he’d finally figured out how to pitch 6 innings giving up 2 or fewer runs – not that I understand the Nats – he’s pitched worse as a reliever than a starter, but hey, not my team. He gets 1,2,3 out on 10 pitches. I should mention that Zimmerman made 2 really great plays – one of them got the #1 Web Gem and Chris Johnson made an even better play on a similar grounder and naturally didn’t nobody notice… Bud comes back out, 21 pitches, a groundout, a walk and 2 Ks – he’s at 94 pitches, looks as if he might could be tiring…
7th inning, Stammen is back out. Bourgeois grounds out, Kepp hits a ball that clanks off Zimmerman’s glove, but it isn’t scored an error, and it should be. If it had been CJ and it was the exact same play, it sure nuff woulda been scored an error. Pence walks on 4 straight pitches, then Clank reaches on umpire error – he swings at a ball near his shoetops – he hits it, it hits the ground, bounces up and hits his bat again (so he should have been out) but by the time anyone gets to it, he’s on first. But it doesn’t matter because Blum pops up and CJ takes the sombrero on a pitch at his ankles. Good grief.
I was not real too surprised to see Bud going back out to start the 7th (with Byrdak and Fulchino warming up) and he immediately gives up a single, then gets a 3-6 FC (and it’s Manzella out there now, but it was Clank who fielded the ball in the first place) instead of a GIDP. He Ks Espinoza, but walks Kennedy and it’s 2 out, men on first and second. Zimmerman is up and he hits a ball to left, but the 3B coach holds the runner at third because it’s not Clank, who would have loped over to pick up the ball and conceded the run – Bogusevic had that ball and was ready to fire to home and the runner woulda been dead meat. So Bud is out and Byrdak comes in and gets Dunn to K on 3 wicked sliders.
Byrdak has been incredible – the last time he gave up ANY run, including inherited runners, was July 23.
8th inning, they send out another starter, Colin Balester (damm, no WONDER they don’t have any starters – they put em all in the bullpen) who gets a quick 1,2,3 – and will someone please explain the love affair with Anderson Hernandez. Thank you.
Fulchino pitches a nice quick 1,2,3. He was absolutely horrid pre ASB, but since he came back from the DL on August 3, he’s given up runs twice – 4 at Florida and 1 at Cincy and he has a 3.75 ERA for August and 0.00 for Sept – and he hasn’t let inherited runners score this month, neither.
9th – The Nats send out a righty named Besineus, an ex-Phillie (how on EARTH did they get him away from the clutches of Ed Wade?) who gets 1,2,3 out and Mills sends in Abad to pitch to three rightys (no, I am NOT kidding – what on earth is happening here???) and he gets 1,2,3 out.
So Bud FINALLY gets his ERA under 5 !!!! YAYYYYYYYY
So tomorrow, it’s J Happ vs lefty John Lannan.
Lannan had a simply horrible first half, so he was sent to AAA where he threw 40.2 innings with a 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and a .306 BAA. However, for some reason, when he came back up, he has pitched VERY well – had a 3.25 ERA/1.12 WHIP in August over 6 games, 36 IP, gave up 2 runs or less in every game but 1, in which he gave up 4 runs and lost. He’s pitched even better in September, giving 6, 6.2 and 7 IP in his 3 GS with a 2.75 ERA/1.29 WHIP.
We last faced him June 2 – he gave up 8 hits, 1 homer, 2 walks, 2 ER/5 R (thank you errors) over 6.1 IP.