Archive for September, 2011

9/28/11: End Game – Carpenter Shuts Out Astros

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Sorry about no posts for so long – family illness got in between me and my baseball games.

I see that Lance Berkman, naturally, managed to make sure that Wandy did not end the year with a winning record so that the 2011 Astros could boast that no starting pitcher ended the year with a winning record.

And tonight, Astros had the chance to knock the Cards out of the playoffs – at the very least, force a playoff with Atlanta. So naturally, Mr Starting Pitcher gives up 5 runs in the first inning. Naturally, Uncle drives in the first run.  Chris Carpenter, who ain’t what he used to be, but still pitched very well this year, jumped all OVAH that lead like a starving Dog on a pile of burgers.

He had the Astros swinging and missing at pitches waaaay outside the zone, pitches at their necks, pitches in the dirt. Felt like Old Times. I thought we were gonna get no hit fer SHER, but Jose Altuve broke it up with a clean single in the 4th. And in the 6th, with 2 out, Shuck singled, Altuve walked, JD let it die.

2 hours, 2o minutes, 2 hits, 1 shutout. Oh yeah, and 1 RBI after an IBB. Kind of summarizes the Astros season.

Thank you McLane family my rear end – no kidding, there was a “ceremony” in the second inning and a big thingy on the scoreboard at the end of the game – like barrrrrrrf. Thank you for what? Refusing to do anything to make this team better since 2008? Refusing to pay for GOOD prospects, a GOOD GM, a GOOD farm system, a GOOD manager? Selling out to Jim Crane and his imaginary money?

BAH

So, Cards are ahead of Not-so-hotLanta by 1/2 game. Should we root for Lance or Bourn? Tough call. Neither the Cards nor the Braves are a very good team, but when it comes to the playoffs, well, there sure nuff have been a lot of surprises since the Wild Card Era began.

I’m trying to not be so negative about the future, but honestly, it’s tough. We’re building around, uh, like who? I see no Franchise Player – I don’t even see an upper level player like Pence. I don’t see a good young core like the 91 team. Our young players are Bogusevic, Shuck, Paredes, JD Martinez, Altuve, Schafer, Lyles, Melancon and Norris – oh yeah, and prodigal son Jason Castro. Let’s face it – it’s true that Ed Wade always manages to pick fungible middle relievers off the scrap heap, but Fernando Rodriguez, Henry Sosa, Aneury Rodriguez are NOT The Future any more than the other guys.

I’m not holding my breath for Springer or Singleton any more than I do/did for Jiovanni Mier or Junior DeShields, let alone the AA pitchers who were obtained for Bourn. I see no Evan Longoria, no David Price, no Ryan Braun. Every minor league team of the Astros had a losing record. The AAA MVP was 35 year old Anderson Hernandez and his 20+ errors at second base.

I haven’t heard one thing about the Sale, neither. I would guess that nothing will be said until after the end of the World Series – hopefully the Tigers (if the Rays lose tonight) vs Berkman or Bourn or Pence/Lidge/Oswalt – although I wouldn’t mind seeing the Dbax win again, just because nobody thought anything of that team at the beginning of the year, and you KNOW how ah LUUUUUVVVV an underdawg…

Besides, Ryan Roberts is teh HOTTTTTTT

9/18/11: R&R (Replay And Rain) Cost The Astros Their 101st Loss

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Yeah, the Stros are still stuck at 100 L, but are comfortably in the ML Loss Lead by 7 games with 10 games to go – but Minnesota is in a position to gain fast, having gone 1-9 in their last 10 games with a nice 8 Loss streak going. All it would take is a few guys doing something like hitting with RISP, a few less baserunning blunders and a few great outings by starters and relievers to blow such a strong lead with only 10 games left – and Minnesota has 11 left.

Remember how John Smoltz shut us DOWN on the last day of 2006 when it was our last chance to catch the Cards? Just picture Jake Westbrook vs Lucas Harrell, the Box filled with the usual 8000 bored fans who got comped tix plus the 10 remaining Cards fans cheering on Berkman as Westbrook throws pitch after pitch down the middle and the Stros swinging and not missing as Berkman and his worn out knees can’t catch up to the bullets to the RF bullpen. The Astros hopes go down the tubes as they get run after run and Minnesota falls across the finish line after being no hit by some AAA guy for The Glory.

And it would be Wandy’s luck to get another Win so that he would be the only guy on the team without a losing record, too.

Youneverknow…

I was amazed at how full Wrigley was, considering that it was drizzling/raining pretty much the entire game. Dempster gave up 7 hits and 2 walks – but unfortunately for him, both walks and 3 of the singles came in the first inning, scoring all 3 Astros runs. There was a ROE in the second, a single in the third and 8th, men on second and third in the 5th – if anyone with any speed had been at first instead of Clank, Bogusevic’s double would have scored an insurance run. And that was all.

Cubs almost won in the 8th – Bogusevic completely misplayed a fly ball – hard to say if he couldn’t see it coming out of the rain, but Barney ended up on third and scored on a sac-fly after a walk. Pena hit a FB a GOOD 3″ outside off the LF yellow line on the top of the net which bounced back in play – even Pena thought it was a double and stopped at second. I was kind of surprised that the 3rd base ump ruled it a homer – and it was reversed on replay – would have put the C*bs ahead 4-3. Cubs manager threw a FIT – here and I had thought it was because he disagreed with the ruling, but no, it would because he argued that the man on first would have scored. And as it was Starlin Castro, who can run, I would tend to agree, but the umps didn’t.

Melancon then came out and got the last out on 1 pitch.

It had been raining pretty hard for at least 30 minutes and I was more than a little surprised (and disgusted) that they hadn’t just called the game after the end of the 5th. I mean, we’re talking 2 terrible teams not in contention for anything and what is the point of playing in a steady rain?

In fact, after the rain delay lasted 30 minutes, I thought they called the game final after 8 innings and I just realized, after re-checking the stats, that they completed the game 40 minutes later – rain delay over an hour. In the 9th, JB Shuck walked, then got stranded and Maalox came in a struck out the side – only 1 ball per batter – without allowing a baserunner – got his ERA under 3.

Tomorrow, ex-Stro Joe Morgan’s birthday, we play the Reds. J Happ vs Dontrelle Willis, who missed his last start with back spasms. At least we won’t have to watch Jason Michaels in right…

Astros FINALLY Manage To Break That 100 Loss Barrier By Refusing To Drive In Any oF The 14 Baserunners

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Henry Sosa gave up 2 runs in 6 innings – he didn’t get shutout because Aramis Ramirez can’t throw. Neither can Carlos Corporan, but hey, we’ve all known that. He’s playing because this Organization hates Towles – won’t play him, won’t trade him.

There’s absolutely not one good thing good to say about today’s game, sorry to say. Well, that is, for the Astros. We made Rodrigo Lopez look good and that is just plain sorry.

The guy who hit the game winning homer for the Cubs, Matt LeHair, is one of those minor league lifers who seems to have put it together this year and just might could get an actual chance to succeed because they wouldn’t have to PAY some FA and the fans seem to like the guy. They are already complaining about Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.

Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll see if we can beat Ryan Dempster again – youneverknow, the way the guys are not hitting with MOB. We can’t lose more than 111 – but that’s a nice, even number.

Just imagine how bad we can get NEXT year. Haven’t heard a thing about the sale, one way or another, and you KNOW Draytie-poo isn’t gonna spend a dime more than he has to. I’m going to be interested to see if he’s going to even bother to spend any money to sign a decent first round pick – we’re still in line for the first pick – isn’t that special???

9/16/11: A Game Of Twos And Astros Lose

Friday, September 16th, 2011

TWO homers by Carlos Lee – in the same game and a TWO run shot to tie it.

TWO stupid IBB in the 12th inning to load the bases and lose the game ( how many times have I noted that Millsie-poo has a fetish for the IBB when it isn’t a hitter in front of a pitcher or a Pujols-like slugger???!!! TOO many times!!!)

TWO guys left RISP with 2 out TWICE

Wandy hit a double

Two double plays turned

Too many innings

- I suppose I should say that Wandy wasn’t exactly at his best and really shouldn’t have started the 6th at all – FOUR walks. And I should say that for ONCE, Wiltonnie Lopezzie stranded his inherited runners. And that the hitters made Matt Mediocre Garza look like Roy Halliday/Clayton Kershaw.

But you knew that.

Well, tomorrow should be a historic day – the Astros first 100 loss season.

It’s Henry Sosa vs Rodrigo Lopez (I would say that the Cubs sure nuff are scraping the bottom of the barrel, but that might could jinx our 100th loss.) At least we won’t have to face Carlos Zambrano, who the Cubs are paying 17 mill a year to not play. It’s a great life, if you can get it

A Blast From The Past: Chris Jaffe Talks About This Day In Astros History

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Hi all yall,

because I have absolutely nothing new to write about (yes I will do the prospect thingy after the season) I am going to link to Chris Jaffe’s post at The Hardball Times, talkin Ex-Stros.

Tomorow, Wrigley – where the C*bs fans aren’t real too happy with their team neither…

9/14/11: Halliday Beats Bud Norris 1-0

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Bud pitched his best game of the year – 7 innings, 72 pitches. He had given up 4 hits, 1 walks, 1 run and 7 K – but was pulled for a PH, or he could have easily finished the game. He started out the game giving up a double, then an RBI single – and that was all the Phils needed.

He got 1,2,3 in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th – he loaded the bases in the 6th with 2 singles and a walk, but struck out Howard and got Ibanez to FO. Then had a 1,2,3 7th. He was super sharp – went to only four 3-ball counts out of 26 batters faced and threw more than 5 pitches 5 times. That’s impressive – too bad the hitters let him down. Guess Bud Just Doesn’t Know How To Win.

Bottom of the 7th, Paredes singled, Altuve sac-bunted, Quintero grounded him to 3rd, then pinch hitter Matt Downs K.

Wilton-ie Lopez and Wesley Wright finished up without giving up a base.

Fast game, too – just about 2 hours. Well, not much offense and only 1 mid-inning pitching change.

We have a day off, then it’s up to Wrigley to face Matt Garza. Wonder who the Cubs are gonna hire as the new GM – hope it really IS Chuck LaMar, as the rumors are saying…

9/13/11: Astros Take Series From Phillies – It’s Baseball And Youneverknow

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

First let me point out the following – Jason Michaels started in RF because a lefty, Cole Hamels, was pitching. He sucks, to put it mildly, but Millsie-poo has a platoon fetish. He got hurt in the second, had to be pulled, JB Shuck, a LEFTY went in, and went 2 fer 2 against a LEFTY pitcher!!! Millsie-poo must be in total shock.

Second, I just have to say it – J Happ managed to keep the Phillies from scoring, in spite of giving up tons of walks and he actually looked pretty good for the first 4 innings. Can’t hardly believe it.

Actually, what I can’t hardly believe is how the Astros hit Cole Freaking Hamels all over the place. They had at least 1 hit in each of the 5 innings Hamels pitched – and he gave up FIVE runs over 5 IP. He’s only given up 5 or more runs in a game twice this year – both times against the Mets, 7 runs in each game. He gave up a run in the first when JD Martinez doubled in Clint Barmes – who looked good in the 2-hole. Then Clank and Downs loaded the bases with a single and HBP, but CJ struck out and Jason Michaels grounded out.

Stros had a man on first in the second and a man on 3rd in the 3rd without scoring. But after Hunter Pence homered to the Conoco Pump to tie things up in the 4th, Stros came back. Shuck singled (AGAINST A LEFTY – YOU GET THIS MILLSIE-POO???!!!) then stole second, Q struck out, then Happ ROE. Boogy was supposed to lay down the bunt, failed, then singled home Shuck. Then Barmes hit a 3 run homer into the Crawford Boxes – lucky boy – 5 feet further toward center and it would have just been a flyout.

Meanwhile, Happ had thrown 10 pitches in the 1st, 14 in the 2nd, 11 in the 3rd – seriously – needed 20 in the 4th (more fouls and a walk). This means only 55 pitches at the end of 4 innings. Really. Truly.

But he lost the strike zone in the 5th – went to 3-2 on the first out, 2-2 on the second, then gave up a single, then a 5 pitch walk, then another 5 pitch walk to load the bases, then Ryan Howard up. He went to 3-2, got 2 fouls, then Ryan was juuuuuuust a little ahead of the next pitch and flew out to the scoreboard. 31 pitches – now THAT’s the Happ we’ve been dreading.

Stros stranded another in the bottom of the 5th, then J had a fun 6th. Started off with a 3-2 out, a 2-2 out, then a 5 pitch walk (here we go again) and a 3-2 groundout. 23 pitches.

But hey, he made it through 6, somehow giving up only 1 run. Against the best team in the majors. I’ll take it.

Froddy pitched a stellar 7th and 8th and David Carpenter gave up a solo homer in the 9th, but got the other 3 outs.

Stros loaded the bases in the 8th – Angel Sanchez couldn’t lay down a good bunt and JD grounded out to strand em all, but fortunately, the lead held.

Unbelieveable.

Tomorrow afternoon, it’s Bud Norris vs Roy Halliday. We got 4 runs offn Roy on Opening Day, remember, but Brandon Lyon blew the first of the Astros 23 blown saves and no cigar…

9/12/11: Ex-Phillies Beat Ex-Stros Oswalt And Pence

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Roy was traded away over a year ago, but this is his first time pitching in Houston since then. He got a big hand from the sparse crowd. He’s spent a good deal of the year on the DL – a few weeks in May, then 6 weeks in the middle of the season. He’s having his worst year since he came to the bigs in 01 – his WHIP is 1.45, ERA 3.88, and yes I know he had a higher ERA in 09, but this year, he’s giving up more hits/9 and getting only 6.1 K/9 – his lowest ever.

He was our staff ace for so many years, 02-09, that it is tough to see him as the #4 or 5 guy, even if it is on the best team in the majors.

He looked like the Roy we know and love in the first inning, getting a quick 1,2,3 with 11 pitches, and in the second inning – a single, GIDP and popup with 12 pitches. The “fast”ball is down to 91-92 MPH and he’s throwing a lot more changeups and not many sliders these days. Third inning, he wasn’t quite as crisp, giving up a walk and a single. 4th inning, he looked, well, more tired – he doesn’t have his old get the ball, throw the ball immediately movements, doesn’t seem to have the old impatience. Gave up 2 runs – surprised it wasn’t more. All in all, he gave up 11 hits, 2 walks and 5 runs to the worst team in the majors.

I wonder if he really means it about retiring when this contract is up (at the end of the year) – yeah, he ain’t who he used to be, but then again, all kinds of guys didn’t retire before they were mere shadows of their former selves…

JD Martinez broke his long slump, going 3 fer 4 and Clank hit a popup into the Crawford Boxes for a 2 run homer – went maybe 350′ – made me wonder how many homers on popups Roy has given up into those Crawford Boxes over these years. Bogu went 1 fer 4 – drove in one and scored one. Paredes had a “hit” when the SS and 2B collided and neither could play the ball. Quintero went 2 fer 3 and drove in 1.

Hard to believe that these Astros scored 5 runs off Roy and that the Phillies only got 6 hits and 3 walks and 1 run.

Hunter Pence got a big hand, too. The Phillie Phans LUUUUVVVV the guy, not surprisingly – amazing how much face he gets in the national media now that he’s there and not here. He went 2 fer 4 with a double and a stolen base.

Sad how many Astros fans are now really watching the Phils, the Braves and the Cards, following the Ex-Stros. I would really love to see Roy and Hunter, along with Brad Lidge, get a Ring. Or Michael Bourn get a Ring. Or Lance Berkman get a Ring.

Tomorrow night, it’s another Ex-Phillie, J Happ vs Cole Hamels, LHP – which means Jason EFF Michaels in right unless for some unknown reason, lefty Jordan Schafer is permitted to face a lefty and Bourgeois is in right instead. Hamels is pitching the best season of his career: 2.06 ERA. 0.95 WHIP and a .207 BAA. Funny that he’s getting overlooked because of Roy Halliday and his complete games and Cliff Lee and his shutouts. And Clayton Kershaw and his strikeouts.

Wonder which number will be larger – the number of Astros wins or the number of Phillie losses…

9/11 Is Memorable: Henry Sosa And Stephen Strasburg Are Not

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Well, us Astros fans got to see Mr. Hype for the first time. It’s not that I hadn’t seen him pitch – we’ve all seen him getting the 3rd strike on someone on BBTN for a few years now – and of course, every pitcher looks good on BBTN getting that 3rd strike.

But it took him over 30 pitches to get through the first inning – and this is 30 pitches to ASTROS hitters who aren’t real too particularly patient. Yeah, he got 2 Ks, but it took him 10 pitches to get Schafer and he got JD swinging on a pitch out of the zone – which is a very good way to get him out because he swings (and misses) at sinkers/sliders on a 2 strike count. He gave up 1 run, while Henry Sosa got a 1,2,3 – but Henry didn’t hold up real too good, unfortunately.

Strasburg needed almost 20 pitches to get through the second, but only a few more to get through the 3rd – he threw a lot fewer balls and fouls. His fastball velocity was mostly between 92-94 with a couple of 97 at the end. Shrug. Yes, I know he’s just returning from TJ surgery – It will be interesting to see how he does next year.

Meanwhile, Henry gave up 3 straight homers to start the bottom of the 3rd – the first was on an 82 MPH cookie right smack down the middle. The next one was a belt high, slightly outside FB – and of course, Ankiel likes em high. The next one was on an up and inside FB which looked like a pretty good pitch to me. I mean, the kind you DON’T hit. Out trots Broakie. But Henry only manages to get himself together for the nexdt hitter, a 4 pitch groundout. Then a 10 pitch K. Then 2 doubles and a walk. Then byby.

Then it’s the Astros relievers Hit Parade. Well, except for Del Rosario, who strands the runners, then pitches a scoreless 4th. Jordan Lyles pitched 2 innings, giving up 1 run. Lance Pendleton (yes, we got him from the Yanks again, this time off waivers.) He got 2 Ks, then 2 straight HBP, then an RBI single, then he was yanked – hahahahahaha. In comes Wiltonie Lopezzie and naturally, allows Pendleton’s run to score before getting the last out. Maalox came in and pitched a nice 1,2,3 – naturally – it wasn’t a save.

Henry Sosa – wonder what ol Milo-ie is doing with THAT name – Hankie? Sosa-ie?

You’re asking how the Astros hitters did tonight? You DO like pain, hunh? It just might could be time to drop JD in the lineup – he didn’t look good. Bogu went ofer. Clank had the only RBI – the second run was a gift from Ryan Zimmerman who made a 2 base throwing error with a man on second.

So don’t worry – the Astros are in NO danger whatsoever of blowing their 10 game lead in the most losses column. The Astros aren’t choking like the Red Sox (now, if ONLY the Yankees would just all choke too…) I almost hope Drayton still owns this team, if just to see him have to do the one thing he leasts wants to do and have to spend money on the top candidate, probably a Boras guy – unless he wants to do the John Moores sorry-ass Matt Bush type pick figuring that 3 mill for a worthless player is less money than more million for one who has a chance to be good to great.

And a few words about 9/11 after all the words/not forgetting/ceremonies, etc.

The worst thing, of course, was the murder of thousands of civilians, American and foreign, by cowards afraid to put on a uniform and declare themselves as soldiers, who are determined that people who do not think, talk and agree to live under their laws should all be killed – which led to the consequence that we all have to remember them ALL the time because of the incursion of government into our lives and our privacy. We don’t forget because we CAN’T forget – the cowards have made themselves a permanent part of our lives and that horrid Kate Smith song a permanent part of Sunday baseball.

The best thing was the courage of those who did what they could, at possibly (and sometimes) the cost of their own lives, to save whoever they could from the devastation in NYC – and we should not forget the courage of the male civilians on the plane bound for the White House who charged the cockpit to take down the plane. Firefighters, police, EMTs are paid to risk their lives – the Todd Beamers of the world are not, but they did it anyway.

As for me, I have yet another reason for never forgetting 9/11/01. It has nothing to do with hate-filled murdering cowards or courageous police, firefighters, EMTs and just plain folks.

You see, that day, Husband and I decided to take a “sick” day from work. We decided that we needed a holiday together - just one day out of life, just one day, it would be so nice. We HAD planned the evening of the 10th, the Stros had an off day – the things I remember – but I had to work the late shift at the last minute, so it was gonna be the next day, Tuesday. So we turned off phone ringers and, uh, paid attention to one another and next thing we knew, it was after lunch and husband, naturally, got hungry and eventually we wandered into the kitchen. The answering machine light (yes we had one back then) was blinking, and we figured it was probably someone wanting us to go to work, so we ignored it until a LOT later. First message was from my Mama wanting to know where were we and TURN ON THE TV!!! and so we did and we were therefore probably the last people in the country to find out what had happened.

Neither one of us had family or friends in NYC or the Pentagon or on one of those planes, but it didn’t matter. Husband said – this is like Pearl Harbor – you think you’re safe and can’t nothing get to you, but they CAN. And they will. I said, like Bugs Bunny – of course you realize, this means WAR. And we thought about all our friends and family in the military who would fer SHER be sent over for lots of Desert Storms. We both knew that if the murderers had come from some place that had no oil or anything else valuable, wouldn’t be real too much war. But money always has and always will do the talking.

Epilogue: we conceived our twins that day, so SOMEthing good happened that day…

In Which Every Astro In The Lineup Gets A Hit And Wandy Beats The Nats For Win #11

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Wandy had a pretty good night -doubled and drove in a run. And he pitched pretty well, too - gave up 3 runs: one on a solo homer in the 6th and 2 on 2 singles, a WP (passed ball, more like – hit off Corporan’s chest protector and he couldn’t keep it in front of him) and another single in the 4th. NO walks, 7 hits, 7 K.

Astros FINALLY got some runs – not that they haven’t had hits. I am not discounting the help given by pitcher John Lannan, making a lousy throwing error – Altuve hit a chopper with bases loaded that SHOULD have been an EASY 1-2-3, but Lannan didn’t plant his feet before throwing and the ball sailed way away from the catcher and 2 runs crossed. Then Corporan laid down the squeeze. I love the squeeze.

Anyway, it was a 6 run 3rd inning and Wandy settled right down with a monster lead. He gave up a weird double off the 3B umpire’s leg – nothing CJ coulda done about that, the solo homer on a ball inside at the knees – it was a good pitch, and another single.

Aneury, Juan Abreu and David Carpenter all pitched scoreless innings – in fact, Abreu struck out the side even though he also hit a batter.

What is good is that guys hit with guys on base. Mostly singles, yes, and only 2 hard hit balls, but you can score a LOT of runs if the singles are consecutive. JD Martinez had a torrid August but has had a torrible September. CJ understands his pain – only he had 2 really awesome months last year before the league caught up to him. He played his second game in a row tonight, to my surprise – got 2 singles, drove in a run, scored 2. Got tagged with an error – made a high throw and Clank tried to tag the runner instead of the base. He doesn’t have the same swing he had earlier when he was hitting for power – he’s hitting mostly grounders. The balls he hits in the air are mostly fouls.

Tomorrow afternoon, it’s The Famous Stephen Strasburg (the stands will be packed) vs Henry Sosa. So Henry gets to find out what it’s like to pitch in front of a packed stadium – of opposing fans…