Archive for June, 2011

6/30/11: Wandy Shuts Out Rangers 7-0 (With A Little Help From The Pen)

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Sorry I missed the last few games. Life got in the way. But I always do my best to not let life get in between me and mah Wand Man.

Roster changes since Sunday – Bourgeois and his quad pull had to go on the DL – he could barely limp. So up came Bogusevic. Down went Esposito, who was taking up a roster spot doing like nothing and up came David Carpenter and his 0.00 ERA from AAA (we got him from the Cards for Pedro Worthless Feliz) over 19 IP. Really.

So the Magic Wandy came out and I was a bit concerned because he was throwing too many balls with those strikes. He got Kinsler swinging on a 3-2 high FB, then a single to right off the end of the bat to Elvis Andrus, who stole second on a curve in the dirt (part of the reason that JR hasn’t thrown out real too many basestealers), then struck out Hamilton swinging on a 3-2 curve (see a pattern here?). Wandy ignored Andrus, who stole 3rd as Beltre grounded out to short. 22 pitches, too many 3-2 counts. The ump was kind of stingy on the corners, but at least he was equally stingy with both pitchers.

Gotta say that Barmes was hopping all night long and he made some REALLY beautiful plays.

Lefty Matt Harrison got 2 quick outs on Bourn and Sanchez, then Pence hit a grounder to short and Andrus bobbled the ball, so Pence was on. Then Clank walked. Yes, you heard that right – he walked. Counting this walk, it’s 14 walks in the month of June. And only 11 K and 1 GIDP. In fact, he’s hitting .300 and he hit .313 in May and youneverknow, some desperate rich team might could grab him.

Where was I? Oh yeah – Brett Wallace, natcherilly, was benched and so Clank was at first and Jason Michaels was playing left. So he was up with 2 on struck out looking. Yeah, he batted 5th. It could have been CJ, who is, by the way, hitting .300 with a .815 OPS in June (he’s heating up, yes he is) but, whatever..

2nd inning: Wandy came back out, gave up a single to Michael Young, then got a GIDP (first of 3) then went to 3-2 on Torrealba who fouled off a couple, then grounded to short.

Harrison gave up the first hit, a single to Barmes, but got the other 3 outs – total of 8 pitches in 1 inning.

3rd inning: Wandy got 2 quick outs with a flyout and a swinging K of Harrison. But then it was that locating thingy again – a 3-2 walk to Kinsler, a 3-2 bloop pop that fell in short left between Michaels, Barmes and CJ – so men on first and third, then a 3-1 walk to Hamilton (Clemens was right, you know – don’t give in to a good hitter. Better to walk him and get the next guy out.) So he walks the lefty and goes to 2-2 on Beltre and gets a nice flyout to Pence. 30 freaking pitches.

At least Bourn and Sanchez went to 3 ball counts before getting out.

4th inning: Wandy had that curveball working. He spotted the FB, mixed in the change and got 3 GB outs on 11 pitches. I smiled and said to mahself - Rangers gonna lose or win against the bullpen fer SHER. I can tell when they just AIN’T gonna hit Wandy.

And when Clank led off with a homer into the Crawford Boxes, I thought – if we can just keep the bullpen out, Wandy’s got a lead and it’s all he needs. Michaels lined out to third, CJ struck out on a WICKED changeup, Barmes singled and JR flew out to center.

Stros 1 Rangers 0

5th – 14 pitches, two 3 ball counts, 2 flyouts and a strikeout of the pitcher. The Wand Man is dealing.

Wandy up and he grounds out. Then a breaker gets away from Harrison and Bourn is HBP. I’m hoping to see a stolen base on one of the toughest pitchers in the majors to steal on (he’s given up ONE SB this year) but nope – he goes to second on a bunt out by Sanchez. Then Pence grounds out to third. Only he doesn’t because Adrian Beltre, an EXCELLENT fielder, makes a lousy throw that Young, playing first, can’t grab and Bourn is across the plate and Pence on second before you know it. So the Rangers have Harrison intentionally walk Clank. Don’t blame em – Michaels has sucked all year and Clank is heating up and yes I know you aren’t supposed to consider how a ballplayer is doing NOW but are supposed to average the past 3 years or something – but it’s true that when you’re hot, yer hot and when yer not, well, youneverknow.

So Michaels hits a ball down the RF line – it hits the chalk and bounces into the stands and back on the field. Murphy, the RF, is shouting and pointing to the ump that it’s a dead ball because it went in the stands and Michaels is on third before he gets around to going over to pick it up and throw it in. This is dumb. Remember Miguel Tejada losing one of the A’s playoff games because he did something stupid like that – I mean, not complete the play and THEN complain? I remember Prince Fielder or someone as slow as Brett Wallace hitting an intheparker because one of our idiot OF insisted it was foul or fan interference or something.

Anyway, the umps get together, the other guys tell the first base ump, who called it, that the ball went into the stands, bounced off the ice-cream guy’s tray and went onto the field. So we’re up 3-0 instead of 4-0. But CJ is up. Harrison throws him 3 wicked changeups on the outside corner – he swings and misses/fouls em off – barely. Then for some reason, he decides to throw him a FB in the same spot and it must not have moved much because CJ hit it solidly up the middle to score Michaels and Clank. Those intentional walks – sometimes they work when it’s not to the #8 guy or Mr. Big Sluggah. But seems to me they very often do NOT.

Astros 5 Rangers 0.

6th inning: Wandy gives up a 3-2 nine pitch walk to Andrus and I thought – here we go again with the basestealing. But no, because Hamilton flies out on the first pitch, a nasty curve, and Beltre GIDP to short on the very next pitch, an even nastier changeup.

Bourn hits a double to right – 9 game hitting streak now – but Harrison gets the other outs without giving up any more runs.

7th: Young grounds out to short on the the second pitch. Murphy gets an IF single to short – one of those deep in the hole balls that CJ can’t make a play on and Barmes can but can’t throw out a fast runner in time. Torrealba helpfully GIDP on the very next pitch.

7 innings, 106 pitches, 4 singles, 3 walks, only 4 K, 3 GIDP, no runs. And this against one of the best lineups in the AL. Heck, in the ML.

Harrison out, our old friend Dave Bush in. Dave gives up a single to Pence, a flyout to the scoreboard – Hamilton makes a great leaping catch – to Clank, who has suddenl;y stopped popping everything up, so be it and shall it remain, then Bush throws a FB down the middle to Michaels who hits it over the Crawford Boxes – bounces off the wall and into the section closest to center.

Stros 7 Rangers zippo

Then CJ hits a liner to left and is absolutely ROBBED by Hamilton, who makes a great diving catch. When you put center fielders in left, they do stuff like that. Barmes singles, but JR flies out to deep right.

8th: I was hoping to see Wandy go back out – I mean, he’s freaking unhittable – and get the shutout, but no.

In comes David Carpenter. Bottom of the lineup, no pressure. Well, except this being his first ML game. All yall remember Mike Burns when he was brough up back in 05? He was the AAA closer and was absolutely NAILS – and back then if a guy came up, he’d better be damm near perfect because he wasn’t gonna get much of a chance. So it isn’t quiiiite that bad these days. And Carpenter gets a swinging strikeout, a flyout to the LF bullpen (good thing it wasn’t 30′ to the left) and a flyout to right.

In comes Arthur Rhodes, who has been pitching for like 20 years, and gives upa double to Sanchez, but gets the other 3 outs without trouble.

9th: In comes Abad. Millsie-poo is letting him face a righty – will miracles never cease? Andrus goes to 2-2, then flies out to Bogusevic in left (no he wasn’t hitting real too particular well at AAA, but he is already on the 40 man and you don’t want to have to buy someone else’s contract, see). Hamilton grounds out weakly to second.

Then Millsie-poo, out TLRing TLR, pulls him and sends in Melancon, who gets Beltre to groundout. What, Melancon needs to increase his total number of “games finished” or something?

But it was a good win. The Wand Man is the awesomeness. Brownie and JD said that since last June 22 (when he stopped throwing to Quintero and started throwing to Castro/JR) his ERA is 2.42, the lowest for a lefty in the majors over the past 365 days.

Which probably explains why all the top teams are heavily scouting him and there are more trade rumors involving him than I gots fingers and toes.

This weekend’s games – the ultraheavily pimped Bahstin team is coming in. I expect the stands to be full of people who pretend they grew up there and are generational fans. Like C*bs fans, only more obnoxious. Ah well, it will be fun seeing David Ortiz play first and Adrian Gonzalez play left. Well, probably right in THIS park. And it will be nice to see homie Carl Crawford.

Bud Norris against Tim Wakefield, old enough to be his father. Is baseball teh KEWL or WHAT???

6/26/11: In Which The Astros Score 10 Runs And Lose While Blowing 2 Saves

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I could say that the pitching was all around terrible, but that would be kind of not really all there is to say. Happ, as usual, had trouble finding the strike zone and don’t ask me how on earth he struck out 8 in 5 innings. Well, actually, yes you can – he faced 27 batters over his 5 IP. Walked only 3, went to a 3 ball count 8 times, gave up 9 hits including 1 homer (to BJ Upton who I hear tell wants to swap out the St. Petersburg stadium for the Box – he hit a homer every game.) So Ed Wade, you ever gonna try to explain why you thought this guy was the best trade for Roy Oswalt?

Niemann, unlike Shields and Davis, was terrible and threw almost everything that wasn’t a ball up and the Astros SHOULD have hit 10 runs off just him. in his 3 innings. He was so bad that he was giving up extra base hits to Brett Wallace (who otherwise looked terrible, as usual) and these were legit gappers and hits off the scoreboard and LF bullpen. Clank hit a TRIPLE for goodness sakes.

Only pitcher they threw up there who had good stuff besides Farnsworth the closer was Juan Cruz, who got 2 straight 1,2,3 innings, the second because Jason Bourgeois got caught stealing. He isn’t running well, to be nice about it.

Astros tied the game in the second. Happ gave up 2 more runs immediately and the Astros tied it again. Astros took the lead in the 4th, 7-5, and Happ came on to pitch the 5th (so as he could get the W – never mind how lousy he was pitching) gave up a walk and a double and somehow got 2 Ks then a flyout.

Wilton Lopez comes in and gives up an infield dribbler to 3rd (like a good bunt) then a K then a homer to Longoria juuuust over the yellow line at the Crawford Boxes.

I hear tell that Longoria, who said before the series started that he felt his swing was bad and he was uncomfortable at the plate, is calling Buddy Boy to demand that the remainder of the Rays games all be played vs the Astros at the Box so he can break Ted Williams’ .406 record and Barry Lamar’s 73. Or at least have a legit race with BJ Upton.

Tie game.

Bottom of the 7th, Keppinger hits a homer into the Crawford Boxes, giving the Astros their second lead. So Ed Wade, are you ever gonna get around to explaining why you were so determined to get Keppinger off this team? I mean, just out of curiousity because the media sure as heck ain’t gonna ask, let alone criticize.

Lopez comes out for the 8th, gets an out, gives up a single, then an IF single off his leg. He gets pulled and in comes the Closer, Melancon. Gets a K, loses all semblance of command, gives up a walk, then next hitter throws 2 pitches waaay out of the zone, then gives up a 2 run double to the RF corner. Rays take the lead 9-8.

But that is just Melancon francoing Lopez to tag HIM with the L. He then gives up a 2 RBI single to give the Rays a 3 run lead.

In comes 8th inning guy Joel Peralta (actually, I’m not supposed to call him that because apparently Joe Maddon hasn’t officially NAMED him that even though he’s The Guy when the Rays are ahead in a close game) who gives up a double to CJ, then a homer to PH Downs. Barmes singles, Corporan sac-bunts (in the 4th, he hit a double to the RF bullpen, swear to GOD – had no idea he could hit a ball that far or hard) then Jason Bourgeois, second BAD night in a row, grounds out to Longoria who throws to Kotchman who gets Barmes trying to take 3rd.

jeezus gawd.

sigh

Rays lead 11-8. Melancon back out. He gives up a single to Wade Davis – last night’s PITCHER, yes, you heard that right, an American League PITCHER – second hit of the night for a Rays pitcher – Niemann got his first ever major league hit, a ball that went to the RF corner that would have been a double for anyone else, even Brett Wallace. Then a Wild Pitch – and mind, Melancon had been throwing em in the dirt, waaaay outside, waaaaay high all night – then a K, then a single, then a FC.

Gotta tell you about that FC. Downs is at second and Kepp is out. Wade Davis at 3rd, Johnny Damon at first. Zobrist, a good runner is hitting – hits the ball on the IF, Downs gets it, throws home. NOT to first for a 4-3-6 DP – and he had time, too. So instead of inning ovah, it’s Davis out at home, 2 on, 2 out, Evan Longoria up. So Melancon throws him a belt high inside FB and you’ll NEVAH guess what Mr. Home Run Hitter did to that poor ball.

Yeah, I know, not that it mattered at that point. His ERA jumped from 1.98 to 3.19.

Even Millsie-poo knew it was time to pull The Closer and in came Escalona who got the 3rd out.

Not that it mattered.

This game took FOUR freaking hours – uck, I hate these football score games. We were starting bottom of the 4th at the 2 hour mark.

Astros got 14 hits, TWO home runs in one game – yes friends and neighbors, you read that right – TWO home runs in the same GAME, not same week or even same month – and SIX doubles and one triple. In the 36 ABs – not one walk, not real too surprising.

Tomorrow is a day off, then the Rangers ride in, bats eagerly waiting.

Get used to this stuff – it’s gonna keep happening…

6/25/11: Astros Start Off Hitting Into A Double Play And Then It Got A Whole Lot Worse

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

It wasn’t entirely the HP ump’s fault – his strike zone was, uh, um, inaccurate and too many strikes were called balls (unless they were “strike” 3 to Corporan) but Bud had trouble with his grip or something and he looked more like the 2010 Bud than this year’s version.

He managed to hold the Rays to only 1 run/inning in the first 3 innings, then had a 1,2,3 out 4th. He also had a 1,2,3 5th because he picked Matt Joyce, who had singled, off base. He gave up 3 walks, 1 intentional on the 4th ball  and 6 hits, but no homers.

It wasn’t the best of nights, but he’s had worse.

But what on earth has happened to Brett Wallace? He’s had the June from he!! – he has more walks (16) than hits (15) and his last XBH was 2 weeks ago. Over the past week, he’s had only 2 walks and 3 infield singles. He hasn’t put a good swing on ANY pitch. You talk about slump. Today, with bases loaded, 2 out, and Wade Davis looking tired, he had 2 really good pitches in the meat of the strike zone, but something is wrong with his swing and he was late on both, fouling them off and he eventually grounded out weakly. Was this a result of all the benching against leftys?

Clank, for once, hit a solid double to right center for a RBI double with Pence on first and Pence hit a RBI double off the scoreboard with Kepp on first. Matt Downs, playing SS, made only 1 error, flew out, grounded out, hit into a GIDP with 2 on 2 out and was HBP. He also made a lousy throw on what should have been a 3-6-1 DP. He is worse than Kepp at short, if that’s possible. Chris Johnson hit the ball very well every time up, but Upton made a good catch of one and a great catch of another – reminded me of Edmonds catching Brad Ausmus’ fly ball in the last game of the 04 NLCS. Except it wasn’t what would have been the game winning hit. Reminded Bagwell, broadcasting with Brownie and JD, of The Good Ol Days when the Astros weren’t a laughingstock (although he didn’t quite put it that way…)

Strange to see Kyle Farnsworth, who hasn’t ever been that good, as a close and doing well. He was a 47th round pick of the Cubs back in ’94. He’s not had a good time at the Box, but he got two GIDPs in each of the 2 innings he pitched – Matt Downs to end the 8th and Jason Michaels to end the 9th.

sigh

We still got that death grip on last place.

Tomorrow, it’s J Happ vs Jeff Niemann.

Amazing how well the Rays have done in spite of losing their entire bullpen and their good SS and LF. Must be something about Gerry Hunsicker….

6/24/11: Wandy Loses His Catcher, His Concentration And The Game As Rays Beat Astros

Friday, June 24th, 2011

It was grrrrls night out and Lil Miss, my niece, and I took advantage of free tickets on Wandy night. Yes, I said I wasn’t going to the Box any more. Yes, I meant it. Yes, I fell off the wagon and won’t get my month pin. In spite of all the squalking about what a great draw interleague is, the Box had the usual Friday night crowd – about half full – and I didn’t have any trouble finding free street parking, even at 6:30.

Roof closed, thank God – got NO idea how they stand it in Dallas. Made it to our seats in time to see

the Rays have Texans on the team – Kelly Shoppach, the catcher, Justin Ruggiano, the LF, Ex-Stro Ben Zobrist (given up in one of the stupidest trades EVAH: 3 months of Aubrey Huff with no draft picks because of no arb offer for Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot), JP Howell (UT) and Jeff Niemann (Houston boy – remember him from the 04 CWS champion Rice Owls? Wade Townsend never made it past AA and Phil Humber, after all these years and 4 teams, is having his first significant season as a ML starting pitcher with the White Sox. Who would have thought that Lance Pendleton, the team’s best hitter, would be a minor league reliever, or that Chris Kolkhorst would only make it to A ball, but Paul Janish would be a ML regular? Youneverknow. But I digress…)

It started out pretty well for Wandy – he threw a few too many balls, but he got 1,2,3 out. Very first inning, Evan Longoria fouled off a pitch that bounced hard in the dirt in front of JR Towles and hit him what looked like under the chin – got under his mask. He kind of reeled – it was tough to see what happened exactly, but after 10 seconds or so, he got back down and Wandy finished off the inning.

Second inning, Wandy had trouble locating the changeup and walked Upton on a 3-2. With Shoppach up, Wandy threw a curve low and inside as Upton broke for second. JR seemed to have trouble rising quickly from his crouch and kind of wavered and tripped over Shoppach and didn’t throw. I wondered if he had been hit a lot harder than it looked and maybe his balance was off or something. But Wandy got the curve working and was spotting the FB inside beautifully and got Shoppach staring and Ruggiano swinging and Kotchman broke his bat as he popped up to Wandy.

Meanwhile, James Shields, 16th rounder in 2000, has turned into some kind of pitcher – last year, he had a 5+ ERA, 1.46 WHIP and a .294 BAA. Year before that he had a 4.14 ERA/1.32 WHIP/.274 BAA – meh. Not sure what he did in the offseason this time, but he must have developed a changeup – that’s what the board called it – but it had unbelieveable movement – guys were swinging and missing and it took him 19 pitches for 6 outs. I knew the guy had pitched 2 CG in his previous 2 games and Lil Miss said something about if he kept it up, I mean down, he’d have an easy nono.

Wandy, meanwhile, was up to 32 pitches. Third started out fine – he got Johnson, the SS, swinging, and Shields at 1-1. Then – can’t believe this – either the backswing of the bat caught JR on the face or the ball was fouled and bounced up and hit him but he got it in the jaw HARD – trainers ran out – he was upright, but they had what looked like towels over his lower jaw and we thought it might could be broken. Lil Miss asked a guy listening to Milo if they had said anything about what happened to JR, but no. They took him off the field and Corporan had to go in – no warning. Wandy threw Shields 3 pitches, all out of the zone – he fouled off the first, took the second for a ball and swung through the 3rd.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but Wandy suddenly couldn’t get movement, or locate – maybe he lost his concentration or was worried about JR’s possibly broken jaw or missing teeth or whatever, but Sean Rodriguez, hitting about the Mendoza line, singled, stole second easily – Wandy had made 1 sort of halfhearted pickoff throw. Benny Z took him to 3-2, then singled to right and Sean Rod slid behind Corporan, blocking the plate ON the 3B line, to score. Wandy then threw a FB down the middle to Longoria and you can’t do that and the ball went into the concourse next to the Conoco Pump.

Oh geez – there goes the ball game fer SHER.

Then BJ Upton fouled off a couple, then sent a line drive juuust over the yellow line to the first row of seats in the Crawford Boxes where some fan caught it. Clank had a fit, the umps came running, Millsie-poo came out and the umps went down to look at video. I told Lil Miss it had to be legit because you could see the fans near the guy who caught it weren’t yelling at him the way they do when it’s fan interference that screws the Astros.

And sure enough, it stood. Wandy threw 6 pitches to Shoppach, non of which were in the strike zone – he took 3 balls, fouled off 2, then hit the last outside pitch to Wallace.

32 freaking pitches, 4 runs after 2 outs.

Lil Miss said – good thing Uncle and Daddy ain’t here – they’d be wantin to go. I said – no, they be wantin to go after an Astro got a hit because even they wouldn’t want to leave in the middle of a no hitter.

Sure enough, Astros go 1,2,3 on 11 pitches, not quite 3 minutes. Poor Wandy.

But he came back and got 1,2,3 outs on 6 pitches. Looked as if he just might could be finding the strike zone again.

Bourn singled to lead off the 4th, a hard clean single to right. Good – there wouldn’t be talktalktalk about how some IF bunt or something broke up a nono. But Kepp grounded right to Longoria, who threw to second, and the SS made a bad throw to Kotchman and pulled him waay off the bag – no error, naturally. 2 pitches later, Pence did the exact same thing, only this time, the throw was on the money for a GIDP.

sigh

5th inning, Shields struck out swinging. Sean Rodriguez went to 3-2, then hit a ball down the LF line – CJ was playing waaay off the line and he tried to get it – ball hit off the tip of his glove and hit the 3rd base coach and bounced back to Barmes, so Sean Rod couldn’t go past first. Benny Zobrist then drew an 11 pitch walk – 1 called strike, 6 fouls. Longoria took a strike, then Wandy threw a ball in the dirt that Corporan couldn’t handle and runners advanced. Longoria singled to right and Sean Rod scored. Ah well – even if the 3rd didn’t happen, Wandy still would have given up that run – had trouble finding the strike zone this inning too. BJ Upton came up and GIDP – hit a very hard grounder to 3rd – CJ made a great grab n throw. He’s like Mo Ensberg – sometimes he’s so good I can’t believe he ever makes dumb errors. Sometimes he’s so bad I can’t believe he ever makes plays.

Clank up, hits a lazy FB to right. Man he sucks. Cleanup hitter – BAH – he should be cleaning the bench. Downs would do a better job, but he doesn’t make enough money and besides, better to save a guy who CAN hit and hit for power for those all important rare pinch hit jobs, dontcha think? Anyway, Wallace, who is ofer his last 6 games, and has been swinging and missing a LOT, swings and misses 3 pitches. CJ is hit by an errant inside changeup. Barmes up, goes to 3-2, then can’t check his swing on a slider – first one I’d seen all night – that was almost in the dirt and a good foot outside. Man he sucks.

6th inning – Wandy goes back out – he’s at 96 pitches – and gets 1,2,3 out on 11 pitches. We up – Corporan Ks, Angel Sanchez, pinch hitting, grounds out. Bourn walks – he doesn’t seem to be trying to steal – not sure why – if it is trouble timing Shields, still goin strong, or if Shoppach is all that.

7th inning – Fernando Rodriguez in to pitch – gets Johnson and Shields (yes, swinging again), then Sean Rod singles (guess the boy is loving this here park) but Ben Zobrist grounds out.

We up. Pence flies out, Clank grounds out. Wallace up – now ofer, like 24 or something goes to 2-2, then hits a little nubber to the 3rd base side of the pitchers mound – kind of like a perfectly placed bunt. Shields jumps to field it, but is way off balance when he throws and he pulls Kotchman off the bag and Brett Wallace, slow as molasses, breaks the ofer with an IF single. CJ is up and it’s a good thing that there are 2 outs because Wallace takes off with the crack of the bat and the ball flies up onto the Hill – a GOOD 420′ and by the time Upton gets it and throws it back, CJ is on second and Wallace is crossing home with all the grace of a charging hippo. Actually, I think hippos run a lot faster. But I digress.

But no shutout now – thank you CJ. So does Millsie-poo remember his little discovery that you CAN pinch hit for Barmes? Does he send in Downs, seeing as how we have started this little rally against a pitcher who has so far given up only 1 hard hit ball? No, Barmes goes to bat and naturally is out.

I’m starting to not think real too much of Millsie-poo.

8th – fans are leaving now – I mean the ones who don’t want to stay for fireworks. Francosco Rod gets 1,2,3 out and so does Shields – pinch hitter is Jason Michaels, who strikes out on a check swing – he argues – and looks foolish because even we could see that he went around – and on apitch he had no business swinging at.

9th – we get the Rodriguez trifecta when Aneury comes out. he gets a grounder, gives up a double down the LF line to Kotchman, but then gets Johnson and Shields swinging.

Yes, Big Game James has earned himself the Platinum Sombrero – 4 swinging Ks. He needed one more to beat Preston Wilson’s record, but the poor boy didn’t get the chance. He DID get 9 Ks from Astros hitters including Pence in the 9th.

Fireworks were nice – sure wish they’d replace the lame-o oldies rock/country with some hiphop, just for a change. Even Old Skool hiphop.

sigh

I wonder if this team, still with its death grip tight on last place in the majors, is gonna make it to 62 wins. I think not. Some days I worry about making it to 40 wins.

Tomorrow, it’s Bud Norris, newfound ace, vs Wade Davis, RHP. The Rays have LOTS of pitching this year – it’s hitting they lack. But they’ll play their good hitters Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld against a righty.

I am, by the way, laughing at all the – Rays Should Leave St. Petersburg – articles. They got a contract with that stadium for 16 more years. Besides, like, where they gonna go? Who is gonna build them a shiny new stadium? Who has the money? Who has the corporations? Who has fans to spare?

please

Matt Downs Homers To Beat Neftali Feliz And The Rangers

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

It finally occurs to Brad Mills that he is allowed to use pinch hitters who can you know, like HIT, even if it is the imitation league baseball park. Amazing that Barmes is a much worse hitter for the Astros than Adam Everett ever was and yet he gets absolutely NO heck about it from fans. JD mentioned many times tonight that both starting pitchers had given up the most home runs in each’s league and that Astros hitters hadn’t hit one since Hunter Pence was last playing 8 days ago. He then talked about how Fast Eddie had expected Nill Hall to hit all these homers, but he hadn’t, so he was released. He kind of forgot to mention that Barmes was signed for the same reason and that Tommy Manzella would have produced the same for 3 mill less.

Colby Lewis was simply ice – gave up a walk and a couple of singles. In fact, if Bourgeois hadn’t singled in the first, I would have been worrying about getting no-hit. He had superb location for the FB and an almost unhittable slider. Fortunately, he was tired in the Texas heat after 7 scoreless innings, and he left, leading 2-0. Undoubtedly feeling confident that the hitters would easily rack up more runs against the weak Houston pen.

I was shocked to see Angel Sanchez pinch hitting for Corporan to lead off the 8th – not just because Angel can hit and Corporan can’t, not just because I had thought that Towles’ leg was bothering him too much to catch, hit or run and that he wouldn’t be available until Friday, but because it had suddenly occurred to Millsie-poo that hitting is better than not hitting.

I wasn’t shocked to see Angel single off Dave Bush, now relieving and spot-starting for the Rangers (remember, he beat us back in May during one of his spot starts) and I wasn’t shocked to see Michael single up the middle after Angel went to second on a WP. I wasn’t even upset to see JB hit a bullet to short for a 6-3 GIDP because Angel scored and we wouldn’t get shut out for the second time in a week. Kepp then popped out – guess he had been watching Clank do that twice with MOB already.

Wilton Lopez came in and got 1,2,3 out.

Melancon came in to pitch the 8th and couldn’t find the plate. No, it wasn’t the ump, who only made 1 bad call – the called 3rd strike on Clank in the 4th and Clank WAS right, it WAS too low. He walked Endy Chavez on 5 pitches, then Josh Hamilton on a 3-2, got a fly out, then gave up a RBI double to Young. Cruz, who homered in the 6th, grounded out to second and the run couldn’t score. Then he IBB Moreland – and man I HATE intentional walks – seems they fail far too often, but this time it worked, as Torrealba flied out.

He threw 25 pitches, gave up a run, giving Colby back his 2 run lead and with Neftali Feliz coming in, well, I didn’t really have any hope.

But then a miracle occurred. Clank, who had done nothing but popup or strikeout turned on the first pitch, an inside FB and it bounced just over the 3rd base bag and went into the corner for a double – barely. Brett Wallace popped out – he’s in a terrible slump – ofer his last 5 games (with 2 walks), then CJ – you’re not gonna believe this – turned on an inside FB and hit it just over the 3rd base bag where it bounced into the corner for a RBI double. Nice to see the OTHER team’s pitcher have a bit of bad luck.

Astros now down 3-2. If Melancon hadn’t given up that run, we’d be tied.

Jason Michaels hits a ball to deep short and the SS can’t throw him out in time – pulls Moreland off first, and it’s men on first and third.

And then another miracle occurs. Millsie-poo pulls Barmes, who can’t hit for spit and sends in Matt Downs, who CAN hit and hit for power. And on the third pitch, Torrealba misses the ball and it rolls into the corner for a passed ball and CJ slides home with the tying run. So Downs comes up, takes a strike, watches 3 balls, sits on the FB, gets a nice one and hits it over the LF fence.

Astros lead 5-3.

JR fouls off a couple, then pops up – he looks as if he hasn’t swung a bat in a long time, which he hasn’t. Ron Washington pulls his closer, sends in lefty Darren Oliver, who strikes out Michael Bourn.

Melancon comes back – I wondered about that, seeing as how he pitched last night and threw 25 pitches last inning, but he was MUCH sharper – got PH Elvis Andrus swinging, Kinsler ground out and Chavez flew out and yes I know it wasn’t exactly the meat of the order and yes I was glad we didn’t see Gentry.

So they won last night because of a blown save and we won tonight because of a blown save.

A day off tomorrow before the Inferior league comes in. We’ll face Gerry Hunsicker’s team – wonder why Richard Justice keeps thinking he’d leave his good team and come to a terrible team with no hope of not being terrible. Then it’sDallas again, then the Bahstin RedSux – and we’ll get to see all the Houston bandwagon pink hats who pretend that they are really from the Northeast. Seems to me we’ve been playing the East teams  a whole lot these past 4 years.

Oh yeah – get this – Jiovanni Mier and his .245 BA/.354/.734 OPS and 10 errors just got promoted. You think he would haved gotten promoted if he had been the 30th round pick? Nope. They are promoting him so they can show that their first rounders, no matter how crappy, are moving up through the ML system. And the farm, since Fast Eddie took over, has not done any better than it did under The Hated Purpura. Will go into that soon…

6/21/11: Escalona Blows Jordan Lyles First Win

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

This is the first time that I’ve seen Lyles pitch where I thought – this kid looks like he just might could be a ML pitcher. The Rangers are a good hitting club and Jordan more than held his own tonight – threw LOTS of strikes before he tired in the 7th. Yes, he struck out the side in the 7th – and he’s not really a strikeout pitcher, but he really struggled, throwing 25 pitches.

The line says 7 IP, 7 H (2 HR, 1 triple, 4 singles) 2 BB and 6 K. However, it doesn’t say that he came out throwing strikes, threw 17 first pitch strikes to the first 23 hitters. He threw a first pitch FB down the middle to Michael Young, who sent it over the RF fence and later Nelson Cruz hit a mid-calf high curveball over the LF fence. He didn’t go to a 3 ball count until the 5th inning, when he gave up a 3-1 walk to Kinsler.

It helped that the HP ump did an excellent job calling balls and strikes, and Jordan himself, hit the glove more times than not.

Real trouble tonight was that the Astros are playing short 2 players – Pence’s elbow is hurting too much for him to swing and Towles has a pulled hamstring. Not sure exactly why they aren’t on the DL, but I guess that Drayton doesn’t want to pay anything to call up anybody who is actually hitting – meaning someone not on the 40 man.

Reason the Astros lost, in spite of outpitching the Rangers, is that the hitting and scoring was done by Bourn and Bourgeois, who looks as if he got hurt again tonight – he could hardly run his last AB. Bourn hit 2 doubles and a single and ROE – it really SHOULD have been a hit because it was a ball that went to Kinsler and Bourn was already on first by the time Kinsler gloved and dropped it. He stole 2 bases. Bourgeois hit the ball hard twice – the first fly ball would have been off the scoreboard at home and the second was off the wall at the Ballpark. Keppinger drove Bourn in the first and Bourgeois in the 3rd.

I don’t know whether he was instructed to steal second base in the 3rd with 1 out (seriously, really, what the HECK – the guy doesn’t steal bases and can’t run fast) but Clank then hit a single, which would have driven him to 3rd – and yeah Michaels Kd (had another ofer game), but youneverjknow, maybe he would have had a different approach. And this was early in the ballgame before CJ Wilson found his control (yes I watched the game to stare at CJ – he’s SEXY) and shut the Stros down.

Dumb stuff like that.

Also, the fact that Kepp GIDP and grounded out weakly with men on second and third. Also that Clank didn’t drive in any, and basically, no one in the lineup is hitting for power. When Bourn and Bourgeois are your power threats, it’s not good. Wallace has been slumping badly for about a week now – lots of bad swings and strikeouts – needs to get his stance re-adjusted, I think.

Sergio Escalona, who had pitched pretty well, came in to start the 8th to face Josh Hamilton with the Astros leading 4-3 (too many opportunities to drive in runners squandered) and threw him a fastball up and in and it rocketed into the upper decks, tying the score.

Del Rosario pitched 2.1 innings but threw a FB down the middle to Mitch Moreland who hit it out. The Rangers hit 4 homers just tonight. I don’t remember when the Astros last hit a homer or who hit it. And unless you string a bunch of singles together, the small ball approach so dearly loved by announcers/writers who miss The Good Old Days has a tough time beating the slugging approach. Usually, the team that hits the most homers wins and yes I DO remember the game when the Astros hit 5 solo homers off Ted Lilly and the Cubs and still lost.

Tomorrow, we face Colby Lewis, who is licking his chops, hoping to lower his ERA and pick up a W as his team is facing our most homeriffic starter.

Not that I care about the Silver Boot, but it would be nice to not get swept. We get Thursday off – I’m going to review our “prospects” in the minors, see who is doing anything worth noting.

And speaking of worth noting, JD and Brownie noted that 8 years ago, a pitcher named Rodrigo Rosario got his first (and only) ML win against the Rangers in 2003. He spent most of the year at AAA, threw 87 innings over 15 games. He never pitched after 03 – wonder why. I don’t remember him at all. UNlike, say, Wilfredo Rodriguez, who was sent down/punished for pitching to Barry Lamar back in 01 when Larry Dierker didn’t want him to hit his McGwire record breaking homer in Houston. He disappeared from baseball until 04, when he pitched 46 innings for 4 Organizations. I wonder if something happened to him, or if everyone blackballed him for throwing a hittable FB to one of the 3 best hitters ever.

youneverknow…

6/20/11: In Which J Happ Pitches Batting Practice Then Aneury Rodriguez Pitches Ace Ball

Monday, June 20th, 2011

First, before I discuss Interyeccch baseball with its cheating, I want all yall to remember that Frank McCourt decimated the Dodgers franchise and he’s a guy who had Buddy Boy’s approval because he wanted the Dodgers sold, and FAST and McCourt offered the most dough. Reason being, I want all yall to see why I am adamantly opposed to Crane, who is borrowing more than he is worth, and more than half the franchise itself is worth, to buy the Astros. I want to show you what happens when you have an owner with little to no real money and he is allowed to buy a franchise he can’t support or sustain. (And before you can say Jeffrey Loria, let me remind you that he’s so rich he makes Crane look like he owns some Mom and Pop snack shack. Same with Lew Wollf and his partner, Fisher, who are trying to destroy the As in Oakland so they can make a killing on profits on a land deal for a new stadium in some other place.

Anyway, to the ball game…

I can’t imagine going to a ballgame in the 96 degree Texas sun, no shade – and there were 40K people at the Ballpark. Of course, it isn’t interleague, the team is good and there are about that many at most all the games. They don’t now and haven’t ever cared a bit about the Astros, in spite of Brownie and Deshaeis being ordered to hype it (wonder if the Rangers broadcasters have to pretend that the Rangers are all excited and hyped to play the Astros, I mean, more than just having a terrible team to beat up on…)

Pence and his lebow are sitting out because he doesn’t want to go on the DL, so we were short an OF and so there was no benching Brett Wallace tonight – so naturally, he wore the sombrero – something he’s been doing a lot lately – AND against rightys.

Game didn’t start off well – Happ had trouble finding the strike zone, I mean, besides up and over the plate, and Kinsler reached on error when Chris Johnson dropped a grounder. Here and I had been going to talk about how much better his defense had been. But although the run scored, it was because Happ pitched lousy to a good hitting team. Andrus flew out to center, then Hamilton and Beltre singled and young hit a long fly ball to deep right center that Michael Bourn, for some reason, didn’t get to – dove and missed. JD said it was the wind. Well, it was SOMEthing, because very next inning, he didn’t get to another ball that went to the wall and went for a triple.

But anyway, end of first inning, Stros were already behind 3 runs and Happ had thrown 27 pitches.

Second inning, Stros go down meekly 1,2,3 on 11 pitches and Happ comes back. He gets the first hitter out, but then gives up a single to Craig Gentry, the new CF (replaced Julio Borbon, who, I guess, wasn’t hitting) who is fast as lightning, like Bourn. He promptly steals second – Happ picks him off, Wallace throws to Keppinger, whose tag is late. But the real trouble is that Happ is either not finding the plate or is throwing fat ones – even the outs are going a longgg way. And after a walk,WP, triple, single, the Rangers are firmly ahead 6-0.

Yes, I know that Derek Holland isn’t exactly a great pitcher, but then again, the Astros aren’t great hitters – and yes, I know that it’s incredible that we’ve only been shut out once this year.

In the 3rd, Carlos Corporan, who is catching every game (guess Towles must be hurting because he didn’t even catch Wandy yesterday) broke up the nono with a single up the middle, then Bourgeois hit a looper into shallow right center – Kinsler made a great catch and threw out Corporan, who had gone to second and couldn’t get back in time for a LODP.

Happ-less came back out and hadn’t managed to find any semblance of control or command – gave up a single, then a FC - CJ made a good throw to Keppinger, who made a terrible throw to Wallace, then another K of Teagarden, the only Ranger who can’t hit, then Gentry hit a bullet down the LF line.

Enough already.

In came Aneury Rodriguez, who got the 3rd out, stranding his runner.  Next inning, Andrus hit a leadoff single off the mound, then Hamilton hit what should have been a 3-6-3 but turned into a FC – Wallace made a good throw to Barmes, who made a terrible throw back. Beltre singled to right, but after that Aneury was nails. Got a couple of lazy FB to end the inning, then pitched 3 more innings, all 1,2,3 out – not a single ball well hit, a lot of swing and misses and lazy FB. He had that FB really working and didn’t leave it up.

He was pulled after the 7th so Melancon could get a little work – Aneury could have gone 4 more innings, easily. He threw 4.1 innings – 2 hits, no walks, 2 K – got his ERA down to 5.33, now the same as Happ-less.

Happ has now thrown 15 games. He’s gone less than 5 in 3 (4, 4.2, 2.2), 4 games of 5 IP (well, 5.1 in one of em), 6 games of 6 IP (one with 6.1) and 2 of 7+ IP: 7.2 and 7, both in early April. He has 6 QS. He’s pitched 3 games in which he gave up 1 ER (and one of those he gave up 4 more UER), 4 games in which he gave up 2 runs, 2 games in which he’s given up 3 runs, 2 games with 4 ER, and 4 games with 5 or more ER. NOT impressive. And he’s still giving up over 4 walks/9 and not quite 9 H/9 and 7+ K/9. Must be that he’s just getting hammered instead of dribbled to death.

Stros got a couple runs in the 4th when Bourn pushed a perfect bunt to the right of the pitchers mound, then Kepp doubled down the RF line, Clank hit a sac-fly (got lucvky because Cruz and Gentry collided and Cruz didn’t have enough time to set and throw, otherwise it wouldn’t have been deep enough to score Bourn – not with Cruz’ arm) and Jason Michaels drove in Kepp with a single to right. Michaels had another RBI single in the 8th to drive in Bourgeois, who had reached on single to left.

CJ had his 8 game hitting streak snapped, left men on, made an error, overthrew a base in the 8th, trying to get Gentry out, but not an error as Gentry was already at first long before the ball got anywhere near Wallace.

Tomorrow, Jordan Lyles tries to beat CJ Wilson. I’m not holding my breath because CJ is kicking ass again this year: 3.03 ERA/1.20 WHIP. He’s thrown 14 games, pitched fewer than 6 innings twice (5, 5.2) and given up more than 3 runs 3 times (4,4,5). Hope fielders make better plays for Jordan than they did for Happ (not that it would have helped real too particular much, the way he was throwing…)

6/19/11: Astros Get To Play REAL Baseball And Take Series From Dodgers

Monday, June 20th, 2011

before going to Dallas and facing our supposed rivals the Rangers in the Interleague silliness.

After getting stomped by the Pirates, who are actually starting to look like a .500 team, as opposed to a .400 team, we managed to take 2 from the Dodgers, who are currently supposedly unaffected by the little problem caused by Frank McCourt’s flagrant looting of the franchise. Remember how he got this loan from Fox of 300 mill and he said publically AND on the record that wouldn’t none of that $$$ be used for personal use, just to put into the club?

Uh hunh, suurrrre. Check out reporter Steve Dilbeck:

“The $300 million I made clear to baseball today, that the entirety of the $300 million is going directly into the Dodgers as equity,” McCourt said April 27th. “None of those dollars is being used in any personal way. I would be happy to make that commitment in writing.”

Well, he did make a commitment in writing Friday in his “divorce settlement,” though the money to be loaned by Fox up front had somehow mushroomed to $385 million.

And per the divorce agreement, out of that $385 million: $5 million would go each to Frank and Jamie McCourt to cover attorneys’ fees (hey, they stayed up to 3 a.m. Friday); each would get $5 million to do with as they please (down payment on another villa!); $23.5 million would repay Frank for the personal loan he acquired to make payroll (think that $30 mil Fox already loaned him); $80 million will be used to pay off debt (well, a little of it); and $50 million will be placed into an account subject to the court’s orders (no, not for a left fielder, it’s just-in-case money).

Grand total: $173.5 million.

Otherwise, not a cent of the TV money will be for personal use! Other than that $173.5 million.

I don’t know, other than that, I’m sure MLB is convinced Frank is reformed, has learned all those valuable lessons and will always put the Dodgers first. I mean, why wouldn’t they take Frank at his word?

- why am I mentioning all this stuff? Because Frank wants to hang on for dear life and he is constantly being exposed as a liar – and a liar who has no money except for a proposed Fox deal which might could be all KINDS of bad news in the not to distant future. Frank, you see, was highly leveraged when he was allowed to buy the franchise.

And he had more collateral than jim Crane. Maury Brown, whose expose in Forbes I linked to last entry, notes that although the Houston media is absolutely silent, that the Chicago Tribune had something to say:

“Despite an unflattering profile in Forbes Magazine, which details a long history of employment complaints from minorities and women, Houston businessman Jim Crane still appears on track to be approved as the Astros’ new owner. However, one source said Major League Baseball staffers are investigating one allegation raised in the story, with an outside chance it could complicate the transfer.

MLB long ago vetted Crane, who was involved in attempts to purchase the Cubs and Rangers, and excused him in almost all of the cases Forbes raises. But at least one element of the story surprised Selig’s staff, requiring additional legwork.

The source denied Crane is under additional scrutiny because of the troubles of the Dodgers’ Frank McCourt and Chuck Greenberg, whom Nolan Ryan and their other partners bought out within his first year of owning the Rangers.”

- Maury himself said he had another piece of information which he did NOT publish because he couldn’t find a second corroborating source, but I hope it is something that will keep Buddy boy from letting this sale go through because he just might could NOT want another repeat of what is going on in LA.

The Dodgers looked dispirited – I men, yeah, I know you don’t look happy when you get 4 hit by a guy with a 5+ ERA, or shutout by Wandy and bullpen – and Wandy didn’t have his best stuff again, but managed to throw 6 scoreless with 7 H, 2 walks and a GIDP. Bud Norris threw 6 innings of 1 hit 1 walk shutout ball and got a ND for his trouble.

Good news is that Chris Johnson has started hitting better. Not sure yet if Pence will be able to play with his lebow problem – too many athletes won’t rest injuries, then they get even worse…

Sorry about the no posts this weekend – we were enjoying a weekend off in Galveston and I just didn’t have the energy left over to stay up, watch the remainder of the late games then write. Yet ANOTHER reason why I don’t want my team in the West whether it’s NL or AL…

6/16/11: If Jim Crane Was Unwanted By MLB 8 Months Ago, Why Is He Suddenly OK?

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I understand where Bud Selig comes from most of the time.

What he cares about:

#1 – trying to find SOME way to give baseball players, major and minor league, as little as possible so that the owners can get most of the pie.

#2 – minimal media controversy while trying to make himself/owners look good and greedy ballplayers/agents look bad/greedy/ungrateful.

#3 – obedient owners who understand that the most important thing, next to screwing the players out of as much money as possible, is to accept their role and understand that some teams are more popular than others and the popular teams should get as much national face as possible and be in the playoffs as much as possible. Some teams are getting paid from the luxury tax/revenue sharing to suck. Their owners must blame the greedy players.

Crane and his lack of any sort of serious cash, was unacceptable to MLB during the bidding for the Rangers – and yes, we ALL know that Bud wanted Nolan Ryan in as owner.

MLB knows only too well that the other bidders for the Astros had real money and no leveraging and Crane has only leveraging, so why is he OK? Might could it be that Bud wants re-alignment and Crane agreed to screw the Astros fans and the city of Houston by agreeing to move the Astros to the AL West, where not only would the games start too late, but would be polluted by the stench that is the DH?

Coule it be that he knows that Crane has no money and therefore will let the payroll drop into handouts territory and then claim that the greedy players and their greedy agents is what is preventing the Astros from signing top prospects/FA or keeping good players?

Revenge is a dish best tasted cold, as my Daddy sez, and he ought to know.

No one but Houstonians really care about the Astros. There isn’t going to be any rivalry between us and the Dallas Rangers – really silly to pretend otherwise (see Silver Booted) as neither city cares real too particular much about the other.

The local media either have no interest in investigating Crane, or have been censored (yeah, surrrre – where is the Houston Press? Does Crane own THEIR advertisers as he does the Chron’s? And what about sports radio? Or do the “reporters” just want to whine and complain about how athletes are overpaid and get all the hottest wimmen and are lazy anyhow – instead of, you know, like, investigating??)

But Maury Brown, writing for Forbes, asks if Crane could be controversial. Crane’s war profiteering in Iraq

let me repeat that – WAR PROFITEERING IN IRAQ

is not controversial. His discriminating against wimmin and darkies is not controversial, and neither are reports of his companies lawyers shredding documents that the EEOC wanted and not providing others – anyhow, all yall know how Those People are always complaining about discrimination just because they “lack the necessities” (oh dear GAWD if only Crane could have been found to have pulled an Al Campanis – but I don’t guess that would be as controversial as Rep Weiner’s pulled weiner.

Nobody but Maury and a few of us Astros fans cares if Crane has no money, has nefarious business dealings and continues to drive the Astros to the dark pit of the major league – no matter WHICH league, to serve as something for the Big Popular Teams to beat up on. And that’s the truth. Crane isn’t getting any media coverage for the simple reason that he either hasn’t sent photographs of his nekkid youknowwhat to people who can’t WAIT to tell everyone about it so that some females can be shockedSHOCKED that some man would wave his Weiner in front of a camera, or he hasn’t been stupid enough to use his real name or account where he could be traced.

One of the commenters here on my blog said he hopes Crane stops “the stupidity” and all I can say is – well, he SURE as heck isn’t spending any money – he’s said so right out first media interview he did about buying the Astros. He can fire Fast Eddie, all right, but exactly who is he going to replace him with? Biggio? Bagwell? Gerry Hunsicker? Andrew Friedman, who wants to leave an extremely successful franchise and come to a guy who won’t spend and who got the team with less money than his father’s group did?

Fire Millsie-poo? Who again left an ineffective reliever in to get killt and give up 3 runs (no wonder Arnesberg had “philosophical differences” with SOMEone).

He’s gonna replace Millsie-poo with, like now WHO is this great manager just eagerly waiting to come? Biggio?

Getting the band back together?

I guess I should say something about how the hitters aren’t hitting with RISP and how the bullpen has returned to awfulness and how J Happ needed 108 pitches to get through 5 innings, giving up 6 H, 4 BB and 2 runs. Or how Brett Wallace is looking more and more like Mo Vaughn with the glove but without the home run bat.

I would, but I’m too depressed.

Jordan Lyles tonight – hope he pitches well and gets some run support.

6/15/11: Ed Wade Throws An Excellent Pitching Coach Out On His Ear For, Uh, Disagreements

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Looks like Shawn Chacon was right.

Arnesberg, who the pitchers LIKED and wanted, was thrown out on his ear for Doug Brocail, who has never been a pitching coach at ANY level. Guess “Broakey” gonna pitch Brandon Lyon where and when Ed Wade wants him pitched.

There was a whole lot of words said about why Arnesberg is leaving, but really, it sure sounds like he strongly disagreed with SOMEthing that the FO wanted and so he got fired for insubordination.

Broakey, by the way, worked as some kind of special assistant after his shoulder finally got to Broakey to fix.

Some pitching coach.

Way to go Ed.