Lance got a 2 minute standing O with his first AB. I was absolutely delighted. To put it mildly. He also got a hand when he singled in the second and Bud got a BIG hand when he struck out Lance in the 4th. Actually, this game reminded me of Game 5 NLCS 2005, only kind of in reverse and –
but I’m kind of getting ahead of myself.
First, I want to point out that Lance did NOT lose weight in order to improve his hitting: he had ALREADY improved his hitting when Yankees hitting coach fixed his mechanics. He went on the DL the second 2 weeks in August because his knee was bothering him. He came back for September and his line was .301/.395/.391/.786 and in the playoffs, he hit .313/.368/.688/1.056 – went 5 fer 16 with 3 walks, a double, a triple, a homer, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI. In other words, he was ALREADY back.
OK. The game.
Bud did his usual frustrating thing of being nails, then losing command, then being nails, etc. As usual, he averaged a K/inning – pretty remarkable for a starting pitcher. Mowed em down in the first on 10 pitches, then Jaime Garcia threw 17 pitches to get his 1,2,3 outs.
Second inning – Lance singled (man this is tough writing about him as the opposition – I’m glad he changed numbers), then got caught stealing as David Freese struck out swinging. Which was fortunate because Yadi Molina, who the Astros couldn’t keep off the bases, walked, then Nick Punto, ex-Twins grit man, popped out to left. I should comment that Ed Hickox squoze Bud tightern tight, especially on the outside corner, which Bud hit well – gameday shows the pitches right in the zone – no argument. With the walk to Yadi, balls 1,2 and 4 were all on the outside corner and all DEFINITELY in the strike zone.
Ryan Theriot AKA Riot, is actually the Cards starting SS this year, but he was hurting. Skip Schumaker, the Cards starting second baseman is on the DL. Uncle Albert wasn’t in the starting lineup because he hurt his hammy the other day.
So we up – Clank grounded out first pitch (after Bud threw 21 – great way to help your pitcher get a break), Bill Hall Kd on 4 pitches, Brett Wallace singled (wonder when Tal Smith/Ed Wade is gonna figure out that Wallace hits leftys VERy well and quit telling Mills to platoon him/hit him lower in the order) and then CJ Kd on 3 straight pitches, looking VERY bad.
3rd inning – Descalso, playing 2B tonight – is a utility guy who played 3rd the past few weeks. He hits a hard grounder up the middle and is at second before Michael can get the throw in. He’s fast. Michael had a very VERY off night. To put it mildly. Jaime fails to put down the bunt or advance the runner and Quintero throws him out. Jay grounds out and Rasmus Ks. 19 pitches.
Q leads off with a single to left just inside the 3B bag, Bud bunts him over, then goes to 3rd on a WP but Bourn Ks and Sanchez GO.
4th inning: Matt Holliday flies out, then Lance Ks, swinging on a 3-2 slider. Then poopoo happens. Frees hits a dead easy grounder to Angel Sanchez, who drops it and Freese is on with an E6. Yadi singles on a ball that is up and out of the zone. Then Punto doubles on a high FB and a run is in. Arnesberg out, mound conference – maybe give Bud a breather. Then Descalso hits a long fly ball to the RF wall – Pence gets a late jump, doesn’t get a good read on the ball, and then he misplays it off the wall and it’s a 2 run scoring triple. Hunter didn’t have a good night with the glove. Bud goes to 3-2 on Garcia before getting him to ground out. 27 pitches this inning.
Cards 3 Stros el-stinko
Pence up – takes ball 1, then hits a high midplate FB OVER the tracks – about mid Crawford Boxes – it would have gone into Crawford street if the roof had been open – it bounced off the glass – think Pujols in That Game. Clank takes a pitch, then grounds out weakly. Hall walks, but then gets picked off first by Garcia, and gets called out for running outside the basepaths. Wallace Ks. Sorry fielding, sorry baserunning, sorry pitching. UGH. At least Hunter’s mammoth homer assures us we won’t get shutout.
Cards 3 Stros 1
5th inning – 4 up 3 outs and only a single to Holiday. Pitches are working, control is pretty good and Bud is no longer trying to get low/outside corner strikes. Bud’s at 93 pitches.
CJ smacks a solid single on a 1-2 changeup to left. Good piece of hitting. Gets to second on a WP. But he’s stranded when Q Ks, Bud then Bourn ground out.
6th inning – Freees hits a double off the wall that Hunter again misjudges/misplays. Then suddenly, the trainer and Mills are outon the mound with Bud – not sure why, but they give him 2 warmup throws – don’t look good to me, but hey, what do I know, they leave him in. Yadi hits a driibbler to Bud, who throws Freese out at third. Yadi takes off for second on an 0-2. The pitch is a ball and Q makes a bad throw, the ball skips into center and Yadi skips to third. Whoa – Q makes a throwing error – THAT doesn’t happen much. Punto Ks swinging next pitch. Arnesberg out – says – Descalso is seeing the ball just FINE out of your hand and THIS time we’re gonna put him on and pitch to the pitcher, like we shoulda done the LAST time. And Garcia Ks on a 1-2 curve and Bud has thrown 6 innings, 7 hits, 2 walks, no homers, 6 K, no ER, 3 runs.
Then, the amazing happens. We’re facing Jaime Garcia, with his 1.08 WHIP/1.44 ERA, cruising comfortably at 74 pitches. Sanchez chops one of this IF singles – hits the ground in front of the blate that bounces kind of past the mound but not fast enough that either the 2B or SS can get it and he’s on. Pence Ks on 3 sliders. Then Clank, still looking BAD with the bat, hits a grounder at the 3B, and it clanks off his glove and Sanchez is on second and Clank on first with an E5. Bill Hall, with 2 walks this year, draws a walk and bases loaded, 1 out. Dave Duncan, the pitching coach goes out to reassure his pitcher – look, an IF piece of crap, an error, a little worry keepin you from throwin strikes. Now this is a lefty comin up, no problem. So Brett Wallace hammers an RBI single to left – Clank is held at third, wisely.
Dave Duncan has seen enough and after 5.1 innings, bases loaded, he pulls Garcia and sends in Miguel Batista – dude must be like 50 and he’s still throwin 93. Amazing. So CJ, in a serious RBI/hitting drought is up. He fouls off one pitch out of the zone, holds up on the 2 others, then hammers the midplate change up the middle for a 2 RBI single. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! Q flies out and pinch hitter Inglett (It’s how you spell Cory Sullivan 2011) grounds out to first. Will be interesting to see how long he gets before he’s DFAd/sent down…
Stros 4 Cards 3 and Bud Norris is in line for a very well deserved W.
7th – Fernando Abad in – he hits pinch hitter Tyler Greene, pops up Rasmus, walks Holliday, gets Lance to popup to first. Then he’s out, Fulchino is in, and he gets Freese staring at strike 3.
Batista still in. Bourn executes a perfect push bunt down the 3B line and there is no chance to get it or him. Now, for some reason I don’t get, Sanchez and his .290 average are sent to bunt Bourn to second. What, he can’t run? So Michael’s on second, Pence is up, and he shoots a hard grounder up the middle into center. Michael had kind of stopped or slipped as the ball shot by – he sure wasn’t running on contact and Dave Clark, to my surprise, hold him at 3rd – the throw wasn’t even close and Rasmus missed the cutoff man, and Pence moves to second on the throw. So then TLR decides to IBB Clank and his .203 BA. And he was right because Hall GIDP the very first pitch. NOT a good idea to stop Bourn.
8th – Fulchino still in. Yadi singles up the middle. Punto sac-bunts him to second. Now we have one out, man on second, a guy hitting .300 coming up and then some crappy pinch hitter. So walk Descalso, then pitch to the crappy PH, try to get a GIDP, right? Nope. Descalso hits a fly pop to the LF corner which Clank lopes after and the Cards re-take the lead. The pinch hitter, a kid named Mark Hamilton, just up from AAA, popsup. Next pinch hitter is announced and it is Albert Pujols!!!!!
Of course, he’s IBB, then Rasmus pops up.
Tie game – 4 all. Bud, kiss your W goo-bah.
Trever Miller in to pitch to Wallace, who, of course, smacks a single up the middle. Trever out, Jason Motte in. Bourgeois comes in to pinch run for Wallace. CJ up – fouls a couple off – inbetween pitches, Motte tries to pick off Bourgeois. then Motte throws a ball, and Yadi throws to first and he picks Bourgy off. Great Astros baserunning tonight, I must say. Motte is filthy. Both CJ and Q strikeout looking. Wonder why TLR doesn’t want him to close – because he failed at it when he was a rookie severeal years back?
9th inning. In comes Brandon Lyon. You know the rules. 9th inning, tie game at home, your closer comes in. I didn’t have a problem with this – he’s got to face Holliday, Lance and Freese, the heart of the lineup. Holliday hits a liner to right, which Pence gets to quickly, plays perfectly, and sends a bullet to Sanchez. Unfortunately, Bill Hall cuts it off and by the time he relays to Sanchez, Holliday is safe. No error, just a boneheaded play. Then Lance hits a ball near the LF corner where the CBoxes jut out into center and he loses/misplays the ball!!!! and it falls for a RBI double. Lance has just hit the game winning hit. I said I wanted him to hit, but I wanted the Cards to lose anyway. Lyon gets the next 3 without trouble – but really, he should have been out of the inning giving up just a single, instead of a loss.
So it’s Cards 5 Astros 4
In comes their new closer, Mitchell Boggs – Ryan Franklin was, let’s say, ineffective and he was removed from that position a few days back. Boggs is a hard throwing righty.
And Brian Bogusevic is announced as the pinch hitter. I didn’t know he had been called up – checked it out – turns out that Jason Michaels had separated his shoulder diving for that ball from Prince Fielder’s triple and ison the DL. Am kind of surprised that Bogusevic was called up instead of Jack Shuck, who is outhitting and out OBPing and out slugging him. But hey, I’ll root for the boy. Who hits a grounder to right for a single. And, with Bourn at bat, he goes to second on a passed ball. I didn’t think Yadi ever did that. And Bourn bunts – and he’s bunting for a hit, of course, but Boggs picks it up and drops it and Bourn is on first before you can blink an eye and Bogu is at 3rd. No outs.
TLR goes out to the mound, talktalktalk
And with Angel Sanchez batting, Boggs uncorks a wild pitch which rolls toward the Astros dugout. Bogu runs home to score the tying run, but Michael Bourn stands unmoving on first. WHAT????? Why on earth is he not already on second??? Sanchez singles to right and Bourn has to hold at second – he’d have been home and this game woulda been over if he had moved to second on that WP. Then Pence singles to right and AGAIN Bourn is held at third. Carlos pops up – infield fly – he looked sorry all night – just AWFUL. So it’s again bases loaded, 1 out with Bill Hall up and a drawn in infield. He goes to 2-2, fouls off a pitch, then sends a bouncer through the 5.5 hole for the game winner.
And the Astros win – Bud doesn’t, but Brandon Lyon does.
Remember game 5? Lance had hit a 3 run homer in the 7th to give us the go-ahead game winners? We were leading 4-2 and Lance was gonna be the NLCS MVP with that there game-winner? Only nobody rememberes his 3 run homer because everyone remembers the NEXT 3 run homer. Which sent the series back to St. Louis and really, lost the series for us right there…
Tomorrow, it’s righty Kyle Lohse, who is finally healthy after 2 years of suckage vs JA Happ, who Uncle is looking forward to meeting…