Archive for September, 2012

9/30/12: Jordan Lyles Hits An Upper Deck Homer To Back His Shutout

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

What a way to end the year. Against the best hitting team in the NL, playing ALL their regulars. Yes. Gomez, Weeks, Braun, Aram, Corey Hart, Lucroy. Didn’t none of em do NOTHIN. Un-freaking believeable.

Just got home, didn’t see the game, spent you don’t want to know how many hours in the ER with a certain really stupid son getting him Xrays, stitches and a BIG shot that hurt (tetanus.) Man I hate ERs.

And this is why I am just now watching the replay. Had to eat first, kid and I were starving. I had seen the 7-0 score and naturally thought it was the Crew who shut US out instead of us knocking them out of their last second playoff run. Never thought of Lyles as John Smoltz, but that was most positively a Smoltz game. He only needed 103 pitches for the 9 innings, 64 strikes. He gave up 4 singles and 1 walk and got FOUR double plays. Country Joe West was the HP ump, had his usual inconsistent strike zone. Of note – Corporan was catching Lyles this time.

First inning, Fiers came out looking like the guy who shut us DOWN last time, 2 Ks and a GO. Jordan came out, got a GO, then walked Weeks (yes they WERE out of the zone) and then Braun hit a popup to short and for some reason, Weeks was halfway to second, don’t think he was stealing because he wasn’t running fast, but he sure nuff was napping and he got doubled off first 6-3. SERIOUS mental error, really inexcusable in a 9 year ML vet.

Second inning, Fiers looks great, 2 Ks and a groundout. Jordan is back. Aramis Ramirez reaches out for ball 4, taps it dribblingly toward 3rd and has himself an IF single. Corey Hart swings on an inside low pitch for a nice 6-4-3. Lucroy Ks on a called strike and he knew it.

Third inning, Justin Maxwell Ks staring. Corporan walks – 2 of the balls are in the strike zone. Joe West is consistently inconsistent and is equal opportunity – at least in THIS game. Lyles sac-bunts, but Corey Hart makes a bad throw and so it’s men on first and third, no outs. Tyler Greene drives a ball into the LF gap and it’s men on second and third, one run in. Moore and Lowrie strand them. Jordan Gets 3 outs on 8 pitches.

Astros 1 Crew 0

Fourth inning: Dominguez and Wallace K, then Fernando Martinez, swinging at everything in site, connects on a pitch that, for some reason, Fiers throws in the zone and it goes 400+ feet to the CF backstop for a homer. He’s a crappy fielder and swings at everything in sight, but when he connecets, he connects – like Jordan Maxwell, who, at least, can field and field WELL. And run bases well. And speaking of Maxwell and swinging at everything in sight, he gets just under a curve and pops it up. Jordan back out. Aoki ROE when Wallace bobbles a ball (that boy better work on his fielding. It’s bad news when you don’t field as well as Carlos Freaking Lee or even Matt Freaking Downs.) Weeks grounds out weakly to Lyles, who gets a 1-6. Braun obligingly GIDP 5-4-3, Dominguez making a nice play.

Astros 2 Crew 0

5th inning: Corporan flies out. Lyles takes a mighty hack at the first pitch, which happens to be a fat one belt high down the middle and it lands in the upper deck in left field. Really. Truly. The only thing more awesome than a pitcher hitting a home run is the pitcher driving in the game winning runs. Greene flies out, Moore Ks. Apparently, Jordan’s hands weren’t bothering him real too much because he gets 3 outs on 7 pitches.

Astros 3 Crew 0

6th inning: Jed Lowrie up. Pitch one is a perfect strike, low, inside, called Ball 1. Welcome to Joe Westworld. Next pitch is mid plate belt high and is POW gone into the RF seats. Youda thought the pitcher woulda have learned not to do that after the opposing pitcher took him out. Matt Dominguez is up, takes a curve, then gets a FB in THE EXACT SAME SPOT that Lowrie hit out and guess what? POW, gone to LF. The boys sound like Kit Keller – I like em high. Yes I AM comparing them to a grrrl and yes they SHOULD be flattered. Fiers grits his teeth, quits leaving em high (although he did throw one right down the middle to Maxwell, who only singled) got a K and 2 groundouts.

You wouldn’t have thought Fiers did so bad – 10 Ks, 6 hits and 1 walk over 6 innings. Unfortunately for him, 4 of those hits were homers. Although I most certainly DO remember the time the Stros hit five solo homers vs Ted Lilly and the Cubs and they STILL lost.

Jordan back out – gives up a single to Gomez. He goes on the first pitch, and Segura hits a comebacker to the pitcher and only gets the out at first. Jordan gets 2 easy fly outs. 11 pitch inning.

Stros 5 Crew 0

7th inning: Brandon Kintzler, RHP, is in. He throws a lot faster than Fiers’ 86-88 FB and he throws sliders instead of curves. He gets Lyles to ground out, Green looking and Moore swinging for the sombrero. I would have thought it would have been Maxwell or Fernando Martinez, as usual, but nope.

Jordan back out – Braun singles, but gets nowhere. 3 flyouts to Barnes – he’s REALLY good. I mean, he’s looking like Michael Bourn out there. Seriously. I thought Bogu was really good, but Barnes, that boy is definitely an elite fielder. Absolutely no excuse for playing him at any other OF position.

8th inning: Kintzler back out. Lowries immediately groundsout 6-4. Dominguez singles up the middle on a FB right down the middle. Wallace fouls off 5 pitches and walks. Fernando Martinez beats out an infield single to Weeks that he barely keeps from going onto RF. Don’t ask me how he beats it out because he runs like a Molina. Bogu comes in to pinch run. So it’s bases loaded, 1 out, and this being Astros, we expect a double play or a K or a popup. Sure enough, Maxwell flies out to shallow left and Braun has a GOOD arm and Dominguez has to hold. But then, miracle of miracles, Carlos Corporan shoots a grounder up the middle and it’s 2 runs in.

Brewers’ skipper doesn’t trust the pitcher to get the PITCHER out, so Manny Parra comes in a does the job.

Stros 7 Crew 0

Bout this time, I figure someone’s gonna come in, just because it’s what usually happens, but no, Jordan goes back out. Good for Francie-poo. The boy is throwing a shutout, his pitches are great, he’s getting outs easily, doesn’t look even a little tired. And there’s nothing to save him FOR.

I’m not sure why Crane wanted to get rid of Francie-poo for Bo Porter, it’s not like there would be this big salary difference or anything. Francie-poo seems to be doing really outlandish stuff like sending his closer in if it’s the 8th inning and he HAS to get outs because it’s the middle of the lineup, or there are men on. And like letting Lyles finish a game in which he’s cruising. And like making sure he has the best defenders on the field after the 7th. And the defensive OF of Maxwell, Branes and Bogu is really great.

Lyles goes back out – 3 outs, 7 pitches. Awesome. Crew look like they’ve packed it in and they are playing for their playoff lives, too.

9th inning: Manny Parra back out. Greene walks, Barnes Ks swinging at crap, Lowrie walks, Parra walks out. Josh Stinson, RHP, in. Dominguez and Wallace fly out.

Jordan back out to finish up. Pinch Hitter Tony Plush-less hits a blooper off the end of the bat that Justin Maxwell makes a nice catch near the seats on the first base line. Aoki groundsout. Weeks singles up the middle. Francie-poo DOES NOT PULL JORDAN or go out to the mound to ask him how he is. He also doesn’t get anyone warming up. And Ryan Braun goes down swinging at 3 pitches waay out of the zone.

Game ovah.

So KEWL!!! I mean, we’d already lost The Sacred Road Loss Record, so Jordan finishing the year like this is teh AWESOME. At least, unlike Dallas Keuchel, he won’t have the coaches telling him “to get bigger and stronger” if he wants to be in the rotation next year. Someone needs to tell the coaches that steroids are no longer OK to use.

Off to Wrigley – 15 guys who are rookies – yes, we have 15 guys on the active roster who are technically rookies – got hazed – they had to wear Speedos and swim caps on the bus trip to Wrigley. Check it out. No Grady Sizemores. No Gabe Kaplers. There can’t be more than like a dozen guys who actually look HOTTTTTTT in a Speedo.

Last Astros series. Yes, I’m depressed. Cards are 2 games ahead of the Dodgers with 3 games to play for the second WC. I’m surprised the Cards have done as well as they have. Good thing they had Lance Lynn and Kyle Lohse.

And in the DH league, I wouldn’t NEVAH have guessed Baltimore and the Oakland Beanes would have made the playoffs. First time in, what, 6 years, that his gambles/trades have worked out. Would like to see Baltimore will win the next 3 games (and the Yankees lose) to win the AL East, which they haven’t done since I was a teenager. And Boston will finish dead last, like us. Anyone besides me notice that the fortunes of this team have (mostly) mirrored Boston?

 

 

9/29/12: In Which Dallas Keuchel Goes From Good To Bad Just Like THAT

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Dallas had had a pretty good September – 2 R/ER over 3 games/17.1 IP and even won 2 of 3. Well, tonight, he started out fine – a quick 1,2,3 out.

Next inning – oh my. Leaving fat pitches in the middle of the plate is not a good idea for pitchers, but it’s a great one for hitters and Aramis and Corey Hart both blasted out 400+ footers to dead CF. Then it was a single, walk, sac-bunt and one of those stupid popup bloops that none of the fielders can quite get (and if they do they get a web gem) for 2 more runs.

3rd inning – it didn’t get better. Single, single, another homer to Corey Hart on ANOTHER pitch RIGHT down the middle. Youda thought he’d a learnt not to do that from the previous inning.

So it’s already Crew 7 Stros nada. Then it’s a flyout and another one of those stupid bloop doubles that neither Brett Wallace nor Scott Moore, playing RF (grrrrrr) could get. And that is the end of the line for Dallas. Mercy killing, you might could say.

Then Chuckie Fick comes in and Segura hits a sure double to the gap, only Brandon Barnes goes all Michael Bourn on that ball with a superlative diving catch (the boy is making Web Gem points) and he stands up and throws out Carlos Gomez by 10 ‘ as Carlos was pretty much at home plate when the ball was caught. That was absolutely AWESOME and really made the game slightly less painful.

Kind of made up for him getting doubled off second the top half of the inning when Altuve hit a screamer to the second baseman.

4th inning, Astros get singles by Scott Moore, then Brett Wallace, but Scott Moore gets his little self picked off second – and he was NOT paying attention neither. Really lousy baserunning. Of course, Wallace gets stranded. Chuckie Fick gives up a run on a double, a WP, then an RBI single that he tried to field, which made Tyler Greene get it to late to do anything with it.

I miss a couple innings – to summarize – Mickey Storey pitches 2 scoreless, allowing 2 baserunners in both innings. Enerio Del Rosario allows a run on 2 singles, a throwing error and a sac fly. Marco Estrada mows down Astros like a hot knife cutting through butter.

I turn the game back on at 9 in time for the 9th inning. Livan Hernandez is in to mopup in a 9-0 game. Why? Masochism must be the answer. Curiously enough, we’ve only been shut out 11 times this year, don’t ask me how that’s possible. We were shut out 17 times in 05 when we won the pennant.

Anyway, Livan gets 2 flyouts and a seeing eye single. Then it’s Fernando Martinez and I figure it’s gonna be a game ending K. But no, he hits a ball over the CF fence to bust up the shutout. Castro singles, then Bogusevic hits a ball to deep center – must have gone 440′ if it went an inch.

Crew 9 Stros 4. I don’t believe this. Tyler Greene is up, and Livan throws HIM a meatball and he hits it into the upper deck in left.

Crew manager has seen enough. In comes Jose Veras to face Brandon Barnes, who grounds out.

Crew 9 Stros 5.

Livan is on his last legs all right, but it’s true that even in this day and age, you still need mopup men. And old as he is, he’s never gone on the DL. Amazing.

Bad news is that I think we’ve lost the chance to grab The Sacred All Time Road Loss Season Record. But I DID get to see Bogu hit one out. When he gets hold of one, he gets hold of it GOOD. Now, all he needs is a good hitting coach to fix that swing…

9/28/12: Jason Castro Hits TWO Homers And Jose Altuve Hits The Game Winning Homer

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Well, it did turn out to be the game winner, although it seemed to be just some icing on the cake at the time.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Yo Gallardo looked like some Astros pitcher. Really.

1st inning – Yo has piss poor control – takes him 22 pitches to get through 4 batters, has 3 ball counts to 3 of the 4 guys. Not like him.

2nd: Yo STILL doesn’t look like Yo, although he gets Brett Wallace on a good slider – the first good one he’s thrown all night. He walks Castro, who goes to secondon a Fernando Martinez groundout, then scores on a single to center by Dominguez, who is dead meat at second when Gomez smartly throws to Hart, the cutoff man, who knows darn well he can’t get Castro, who took off with the crack of the bat, and DOminguez is out by 10 feet. Good thing for Yo, because he hasn’t had much of anything. Bad thing for Astros, but it was a reasonable gamble because Gomez often overthrows the cutoff man to get gundown glory at home. Edgar Gonzalez gets 1,2,3,out.

Astros 1 Crew 0

3rd: Yo gives up 2 singles, has men on first and third, 2 out, and Jason Maxwell Ks, swinging. He got himself the Golden Sombrero tonight. He’s reminding me of Preston Wilson lately. Edgar gives up a solo homer to Carlos Gomez on a slider that didn’t, then gets 1,2,3 out.

Tie game

4th: Wallace singles, Castro flies out to left. And by the way, Braun has most positively made himself into a 5 tool player. Really excellent glove, VERY good baserunning – smart, good basestealer – too bad he’s gonna get all that hating from last year’s tossed test, because he should be second in MVP voting behind Andrew McCutchen, who won’t win because the rest of his team sucked MUCHO from Aug 1 on – looks as if they are headed for their 20th straight losing season again – and they just got no-hit tonight by Homer Bailey and the Reds, 1-0.

Where was I? Oh yeah – Fernando Martinez hits a double just inside the LF foul line which bounces into the stands and it’s men on first and third. Then Yo runs into bad luck. SS Jean Segura screws up an easy grounder by Dominguez, makes a crappy throw to Maldonado, then misses the return throw, so Martinez is on third. So instead of runners don’t move, 2 outs, another run is in. Then Edgar bunts the ball on the left side of the mound. Hart slips going to get it, Yo forgets to cover first, so everyone is safe and Martinez scores.

Crew are lookin like Astros, not a good thing for their desperate last minute playoff run. Yo gets Altuve and Moore, but the damage is done. Edgar gets 1,2,3 in 11 pitches

Stros 3 Crew 1

5th: Yo gets 2 outs, then gives up a massive upper deck homer to Brett Wallace, then an opposite field homer to Jason Castro – no, I am NOT kidding. Fernando Martinez grounds out, then Edgar comes back on and gets 1,2,3 out.

Stros 5 Crew 1

6th: Yo’s first 1,2,3 inning – groundout, walk GIDP. Edgar is at 60 pitches, but his luck has run out. He gives up a single, WP, single, so it’s men on first and third, no out. He then gets a popup, and a 5-2 FC – nice to get the out at home. Good play, too. But then Ryan Braun is up and he golfs a slider into the LF gap, splitting the outfielders and 2 runs are in and Edgar is out.

Hector Ambriz comes in, gives up a stolen base to Braun, who just made the 30-30 club again, with his 30th SB. He walks Aramis, then gets Corey Hart swinging.

Stros 5 Crew 3

Without looking it up – too tired to go through every I)&*%! year game log – I think this is one of Yovani’s worst outings vs the Astros, if not THE worst. Not a real too good sign for the Crew’s faint playoff hopes with only 5 games left.

7th: New pitcher Jim Henderson gets 1,2,3. Ambriz gets 1,2, single, SB, 3.

8th: In comes the remnants of Francisco K-Rod Rodriguez who gets an out, gives up Jason Castro’s second homer – STILL can’t believe I’m writing that, gets an out, gives up a single to DOminguez, then Aramis makes a really good play on Bogusevic’s grounder and it’s 3 out.

Astros 6 Crew 3.

Wesley Wright comes in and it’s our best fielding OF with Maxwell in left, Barnes in center and Bogu in right. Or it SHOULD be. Aoki walks. Wesley is left in to face rightys!!! imagine that, and Weeks Ks, then Braun grounds to third, but they can’t turn a double play.

Then for some reason I do NOT get, Wesley is yanked and replaced with – get this – Rhiner Cruz!!! to face Aramis Ramirez. Wesley can pitch to Braun but not Aramis? WHY????? So Cruz gives up a fly ball to right and Bogu slides a little late, the ball goes by him, Braun scores and Aramis is on third with a “triple” – and why those are not scored as errors, I never have understood, except that MLB wants scoring high and errors low.

Cruz is immediately yanked, in comes The Closah, Wilton Lopez, and he gets the third out.

Astros 6 Crew 4

9th: Righty Kameron Loe in. Jose Altuve homers into what would be the Crawford Boxes – second game in a row he homers. Second wind. Also his 52nd multi-hit game. But Loe gets the next 3 and Wilton-ie is back in to Seal The Deal and he’s got a 3 run lead – no prob, right?

Lefty Logan Schafer (their 3rd round pick of the 08 draft) in to pinch hit, and he singles to left. Carlos Gomez flies out, but then Segura sends a rope into the LF corner and Schafer scores while Segura trots into second. Lucroy and his .330 BA in to PH – he grounds to Dominguez, who makes a rare error, boots the ball, Segura scores, and it’s 2 runs in already, man on first. Then Aoki obliges by grounding into a rare (for him) DP to end it.

So you see, Altuve DID hit the game winner, he just didn’t know it at the time.

Oh – gossip tidbit – I hear tell that Bo Porter was Crane’s pick, NOT Luhnow’s pick. Shades of Drayton McLane. And just to save relocation expenses? Not surprised. Especially after even Maury Brown wrote about Crane spending the money from next year’s increased income on, coughcough, “the debt.”

Count me not surprised even a teensy weensy bit. It’s almost fer SHER a lot of the reason so many guys turned down offers to interview for manager…

9/27/12: Astros Hire Football Mentality Coach As New Astros Manager

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Well, looks as if Crane, Luhnow and gang had their minds made up a LONG time ago. Bo Porter, long time minor leaguer with a couple of ML ABs, has made the Big Time.

His experience is minimal and yes I know all about Robin Ventura and Mike Matheny. Bo has had 1 year of managing at low A, and 2 years of being a ML 3rd base coach and 1 year of being a ML bench coach. Bo is still working with the Nats as bench coach – or is it 3rd base, I get so confused, so he can’t be officially signed until the end of the Nats’ season.

I’m not sure why hiring someone who is is a football person is good for baseball – at least, I’m not exactly real too clear on what a “football mentality” is supposed to be. Last ballplayer with that unfortunate label on the Astros was Darin Erstad, and he was all glove, no bat, and got hurt all the time.

He lives right here in Houston, so Crane won’t have to pay moving expenses, and of course, he’s dirt cheap. Francie-poo must be really disappointed, and not sure if he’s just going to go back to OKC or whether he is going to have to find a new job somewheres else. OR he could be assigned as one of the ML coaches. These days, managers don’t get to pick their coaches any more. That must be REALLY hard for a manager – no friends, just temporary allies – if you’re lucky.

Best I can tell, getting back to Porter, he has like minimal experience working with any sort of young, bad club, unless you count his year at low A. But those guys aren’t really teammates – they are a bunch of guys competing against each other for playing time and advancement.

Best thing about Porter? Gonna be really tough to cutesy poo his name up. Cain’t call him Bo-ie, or Port-ie, or Porter-ie or even Port-a-Bo.

9/27/12: Bud Norris Pitches An Ace Game And Jose Altuve Ends The Astros Tenure In Minute Maid With A Bang

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

This post is hard to write.  I’m not crying now – that will come later, I know, after the WS is over, the first time I drive past what used to be a baseball stadium and I have to face that baseball in Houston is gone forever and has been replaced with a sham called DH ball.

Sometimes, it is hard to face the cold, hard, painful truth of reality, but sooner or later you have to.

In the meantime, I have to thank Bud Norris for that absolutely awesome pitching performance. He looked like the Bud Norris was was absolutely ACE until his hip problem thingy in May. Tonight, he had the awful Angel Hernandez for a HP ump, but gave up only a double, a single and a HBP and no walks. NO runs, 7.1 IP, ERA FINALLY below 5. And this was with Scott Moore in right field and he is NOT an outfielder. I held my breath more than once, but he managed to make all the plays. For once. Fortunately, no balls were hit to left, where Fernando Martinez was ready to stink it up.

First W since May 21, believe it or not. (It was MORE than obvious that he was hurt his next start, and he didn’t get sent to the DL for several more weeks. This pitching through injury stuff is stupid. Period)

Although he did have some REALLY good pitching performances in which he either got a L or a ND – like Lucas Harrell. You get no run support/bullpen, it don’t matter whether or not You Know How To Win.

2 meh (4 R/6 IP) and 1 pulled because of injury (3 R/3.1 IP) starts in June = 3 L

4 VERY good QS, 1 absolutely HORRIBLE start (9 runs/4.1 IP) in July = 3 L, 2 ND

3 QS, 1 meh 4 R/6 IP and 1 horrible (6 R/3.1 IP) starts in August = 3 L, 2 ND

2 QS with NO runs given up (1 W, 1 ND) and 2 yeccch starts with 5 runs/start = 2 L

He’s got one more scheduled start next week – let’s hope he gets a shutout. He didn’t deserve this many losses. Then again, neither did his fellow pitchers, for the most part.

Best part of today’s W was that it was against Chris Carpenter, who has KILLED the Astros for years and years. I’m impressed that he was actually able to come back this year – but that guy is a real fighter, he surely is.

Jose Altuve hit his homer over the 3rd window of the CBoxes. VERY kewl.

Scott Moore then doubled, went to third on a groundout, then foolishly tried to score on a GB to short by Maxwell, and was dead meat at home. Justin stole second and trotted home on a single to right (for once) by Brett Wallace. Let me be kind and say that Brett has, um, struggled a bit (ahem) this month. He’s really increased his strikeout percentage this year – if he played a full season he’d be having a 180 (approx) strikeout year. Which is nothing like Jason Maxwell’s, true.

It was only 2 runs, and the Stros left men on first and 3rd in the 5th, but fortunately Bud was nails and after he gave up a HBP (which is OK – it would have been a walk anyway) and a ROE then a K in the 8th, Wilton Lopez came in for a 5 out save.

Can’t believe Francie-poo is doing something so Old Skool. But hey, it’s working and there is no reason not to, seeing as how we’re not saving Wilton-ie for the postseason.

Oh yeah – and best news – no more Milo. So hopefully, it will be the end of calling every player a cutesy-poo name with an “ie” at the end of his name as if he were a small child. Unless the new manager continues this, I’ll quit calling all the players like that, seeing as how I don’t need to mock either Millsie-poo or Milo-ie no mo. If Crane has any sense, he’ll get rid of the 2 clowns who try to interject football and golf into every sentence and hire some guys who know and like baseball. And don’t have a northeast/midwest/whatever it is, it’s awful – non-Texan accent. But I doubt it – it might could cost money. And as Maury Brown reports, Crane will be spending most of the new money coming in from MLBAM, the new RSN and the net network deals on the debt.

Remember that preposterous 650 mill price tag that Bud Selig liked because it jacked up values of other franchises, that price tag consisting of money Crane ain’t got, that rpice tag that ensured that Crane would allow the Astros to be dragged into the sewer that is the DH league?

Yeah

Will be interesting to see how low he is gonna take the payroll next year. Bet it doesn’t exceed 30 mill, if that and yes, he DOES have to sign SOME free agents or the Players Union will complain. Not that it matters, seeing as how they have lost pretty much every single battle to the Owners over the past 10 years and have become a limp, toothless version of its former self, catering only to the very few high priced free agents who comprise less than 5% of major leaguers.

Stupid and short sighted.

But hey, instead of the old shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in 3 generatioons, it’s in 3 decades. Not even that. More like half a generation.

It’s an interesting thing. Pretty much nobody is left from the last strike of 94/95, and remembers what it means to stand up to the owners. You forget how to fight, you don’t bother to remember how to negotiate, next thing you know, all you do is lose more and more until you don’t even have guaranteed contracts.

You need guys with memories. It’s kind of like how my Dogs teach each new Dog in my pack what the Rules are and how to behave. Really.

sigh – back to my team, the Final Days. Day off, then off to Milwaukee, still fighting for that last WC spot, then to Wrigley to end the year. Fitting that we should end up at the field of perpetual losers to end the 50 year existence of the Houston Astros Baseball Club.

Astros don’t even have probable pitchers posted, no surprise, seeing as how everyone is beat up. Edgar Gonzalez and Fernando Abad are apparently too hurt to start and we know that Fernando Rodriguez is most likely going to get a start and I have absolutely NO idea who on earth is going to be able to start. I don’t think they do either.

We’ll face Yo Gallardo (might as well throw someone to the wolves as Yo turns the stros into Little Leaguers anyway) then Marco Estrada and Mike Fiers.

9/25/12: Astros Achieve Loss #105 By Getting Shut Out By The Cardinals

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

So Wandy was handed a 4 run lead by the end of the first inning and although he gave up 3 runs with a single then 2 homers before he recorded an out, he shut it DOWN giving up only 2 more walks and a single over the next 6 innings as the curve really curved and

oops

wrong team.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. The Lastros. Only 2 more games to tie last year’s record!!! WE CAN DO IT!!! 110 here we come!!!!!

Lucas Harrell lost again, poor guy – NO run support thanks to endless double plays. The Astros DID turn 2 very nice DPs, too, especially (I can’t believe it) the 3-2-3 Matt Downs to Chris Snyder on Carlos Beltran – I’d better not say he looks worn OUT or he’s gonna turn into Carlos 2004 before our eyes tomorrow. Saint Looey is ahead for the second WC by 2 games and the Crew must be gritting their teeth.

Lucas has actually pitched very well since the ASB, with only one bad game. He has very little in the way of W to show for it. Check it out:

1 ER/5 IP -ND
1 ER/7 IP – L
1 ER/7 IP – ND
2 ER/5.2 IP – W
2 ER/6 IP – W
2 ER/ 5 IP – L
1 ER/8 IP – W
6 ER = ick and well deserved L
1 ER/7 IP – ND
1 ER/ 7 IP – ND
3 ER/6 IP – ND
4 R/5.2 IP – ND
3 ER/5.2 IP – L
2 ER/5 IP – L

That is NINE games that, if he had had league average run support (and non-suckage bullpen) he should have won. Welcome to the Astros.

He had a tough time with this game, in spite of Snyder catching him again – gave up 7 hits and SIX walks (including an IBB) and only 2 runs, as he left bases loaded 3 times and had only one 1,2,3 inning. He even gave up a double to the PITCHER.

Jose Altuve had his 50th multi-hit game tonight. Our other major leaguer (besides Harrell and Wesley Wright.)

There is not much else to say.  Unfortunately.

Tomorrow is The Last Game. It’s hard not to cry, but after all, there is no crying in baseball…

 

9/24/12: Astros Clinch Title Of Worst Team In The Majors 2012!!!

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Aren’t all yall excited!!! We get the number one draft choice again!!! Just like the Nats did a few years back, only they got 2 superstars and we didn’t/aren’t. I mean, even the Rays didn’t get number ones 2 years straight and neither did Pittsburgh. Or KC. Or Milwaukee.

And the deciding game was an Astros Special. Terrible pitching, fielding, hitting, errors galore, unmade plays galore.

Astros left bases loaded in the first. Gee, left bases loaded you say? Imagine that. 9 Ks in 7 innings? 2 GIDP and 7 or 8 RISP stranded? What a surprise. Everyone not named Scott Moore looked bad with the bat. Brett Wallace is having a TERIBLE September. Well, so is everyone else, I shouldn’t point fingers.

Abad had a 1,2,3 inning, but somehow hurt his little self (not used to pitching 4 innings straight, you say?) walking a batter and in came Froddy again. You might could kind of call it starting on short rest. Anyway, he gave up a – ahem – triple – ahem – to right. Scott Moore is not a RF, so you can say a better fielder just might could have done a lot better. But the FB down the middle to the next batter was entirely his own darn fault. Except for a solo homer to Yadi Molina – and that one was right down the middle too, he threw 3 more scoreless innings. Had no idea we had a long man. Don’t guess Froddy knew it neither.

Jose Velez gave up 2 runs because of TWO screwed up plays on successive sac bunts. Yeah – once Matheny saw that we couldn’t handle bunts, he ordered .300 hitter Jon Jay to lay down another and wouldn’tcha know it. Bases loaded, Matt Holliday singles to center and Bogu, of all people, makes an error and bobbles the ball and it’s men on second and third, 2 runs in. Not Bogu’s fault, just the advance to second. But Valdez shut it down, then Rhiner Cruz and Chuckie Fick pitched a scoreless.

Official attendence was 12, 584 – yeah, surrrrre. There weren’t 5 K people in the stands and most of em were Cards fans.

Now that Edgar Gonzalez and Abad are injured, wonder who on earth they are gonna use to start. Enerio Del Rosario? No wonder they are pushing Bud Norris to start. Although it might could not work in his favor – remember what happened to Brandon Backe who thought he was taking it for the team…

Oh yeah – news. Julio Daniel martinez is getting hand surgery and is out for the year. Like Brandon Barnes, he’s supposed to play winter league ball. He’s had The Year From Hell. And leads the Astros in RBIs which tell you all you need to know about RBIs. Fernando Martinez can’t hit or field.

The reason this team has won as much as it has this month is, in my opinion, due to all the extra relievers and uninjured bench players. Most of the time, we really didn’t have a 25 man roster. Not that this team could have been even decent if no one was injured, mind.

 

9/23/12: The Final Legendary Weekend Of The Astros At Home

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Of course you want to know if I went. It was a really REALLY tough decision, but I stuck to my refusal to give Crane one thin dime. Bout tore me up, seeing as how it was the Last Weekend Ever. I even got out my Shooting Star t-shirt, even though Wandy’s name isn’t on the back.

Called my Mama. She said, sorry Baby Girl, Wainwright is pitching. I said, cmon Mama, one last time, Jerry Trupiano and Richard Justice are calling the game. She said TRUPIANO?? I haven’t heard him in a LONG time and besides, he’s not really a baseball. He is, TOO Mama, I said – he called games for the Red Sox until a couple years ago. She sniffed – like I said, DH ball. Cmon Mama, I said – it IS The Last Weekend and you can watch Wainwright on tape.

And she won’t really admit it, but she was glad she did. It was absolutely great to see guys I grew up with, guys I never saw play out there looking out at the 8000 fans who showed up. Mama said – well, with Jimmy and Enos (Cabell), it will sure nuff look like The Good Ol Days of the empty Dome. TV was great. Trupiano was louder, more, uh, enthusiastic (ahem) than our usual laid back crew, but oh man it was kewl. I know Richard Justice is a Bud-luvver, and he now writes bland blah stuff for MLB, but he’s still a DAMM good baseball man when he TALKS.

Every inning, they had a different Legend guest to talk. Enos Cabell, Jimmy Wynn, Saint Biggio, Eric Anthony!!! of all people – hadn’t thought about him since the 90s. Broakie-poo was on, too. Said that the job of a pitching coach is almost all dealing with the pitcher’s head and that pitching is indeed 90% mental. Said he often doesn’t even TALK to a new guy when he comes up (bet that makes the new guy a little nervous). Said that what he needs most to do is convince a guy that he CAN throw HIS pitch to the target. Interesting.

Dallas Keuchel pitched great – guess that Broakie-poo convinced him that he COULD throw to the target . 4 hits, 1 walk, 1 solo homer/7 IP. What is even more impressive is that besides the walk, he only went to a 3 ball count ONCE and threw over 4 pitches/hitter 3 times. Now THAT is listening to your pitching coach.

Best part of the game was Clint Hurdle getting himself some Blood Pressure in the second when a safe call was reversed. McHenry hit a ground ball, fielded by Keuchel and tosses to Wallace – bad throw, pulled Wallace off the bag, but he swipe tagged McHenry. Ump called him out at first. Wallace asked for a review from other umps, and – THE UMPS CONFERRED!!! Guess the HP ump had actually seen the tag and the runner was out. It was, by the way, the correct call – watched the replay.

I mean – seriously, THE UMPS CONFERRED TO GET THE PLAY RIGHT!!! What’s next? Dogs and Cats living together???

Second best part of the game was Jason Castro failing to get the bunt down with men on first and second and finally swinging away at a low slider and golfing it barely over the RF wall – right near the foul pole where the gate opens – maybe 340′ but hey, that’s the breaks.

And the game.

Beating the Pirates twice in a row. Seemed like The Good Old Days.

And today? Well, you won’t believe this BUT
1 – Jordan Lyles ran into trouble in the 5th – gave up 2 straight singles, then a walk. In comes the bullpen, who promptly lost the game – Wesley Wright let one run score. In came Mickey Storey who let the other 2 runs score and Wesley’s run score. Mickey gave up a single and an RBI double to stat the 6th, but got lucky because Chuckie Fick stranded HIS runner. Enerio Del Rosario gave up 3 more runs in the 8th.

2 – Bogusevic was pinch hitting in the 8th – had a 1-2 count and the next pitch hit him on the foot – ump called it ball 2. Bogu insisted that it had hit his toe (which it did), and THE UMPS CONFERRED TO GET THE CALL RIGHT!!! Seriously, WTF? Getting calls right? Guess they are doing their darndest to avoid instant replay.

Scott Moore was the only guy to get a hit off AJ Burnett – in fact, was a triple shy of the cycle. Brett Wallace got himself a Golden Sombrero. He’s striking out more and walking less than he did last year, even though he’s hitting for more power.

Of note – Jed Lowrie is still very stiff legged and looks like Derek Jeter at short, minus the jump n throw (NOT a compliment) and Tyler Greene is 29 and is NOT a good fielding SS – doesn’t make any tough plays, makes too many errors, both counted and mental. For example – in the 4th, Rod Barajas, who runs like a 9 month pregnant woman, hit a dead easy grounder to short for what should have been an easy 6-3. BUT he tosses it to get the out at second instead and Barmes, running on contact, beat the throw and everyone was safe. That kind of stuff is BAD for a pitcher, worrying about his fielders not making plays behind him.

Speaking of fielding:

Brandon Barnes is REALLY awesome in center – not quiiite Michael Bourn or Andrew McCutchen, but a darn close third. He makes the easy plays AND the tough plays. Man I wish Bogu had hit better – Barnes in center and Bogu in right – what a combo.

Fernando Martinez is a lousy fielder – bad jumps and I mean BAD jumps. He doesn’t look like Clank, because he is thinner and runs faster, but Clank was actually better out there than Fernando. I don’t know if the Organization sees something I don’t, but I guess it is playing out the season. Oh yeah – and he looked like Pedro Cerrano up there trying to hit the curve. He wants to stayin the majors, you know what he’s gotta tell JoBu.

Justin Maxwell – by the way, has 105 strikeouts in 323 PA. He’s only hitting .233, but half his hits are for extra bases. Saturday night, Jerry Trupiano noted that Maxwell swings at all KINDS of junk out of the zone because he’s trying to hit a homer every swing. Looks that way all right.

Speaking of legends, Chad Qualls mopped up the 9th – he’s 34 freaking years old. Seems like yesterday he was a rookie for the pennant winning team – and of course he was 26 at the time. He was picked in the 2nd round of the 200 draft, but didn’t play until 01 – was an averagish starter for a few years until getting called up at the end of 04 – remember? He had one really bad game in relief, but then settled down and was a really big BIG part of the run to the WC victory last day of the season. Him and Brandon Backe. Too bad Phil Garner didn’t use Chad instead of Dan EFF Miceli…

Saint Looey tomorrow. Yes I’m gonna try to watch with Mama – will be weird, her and me rooting for different teams.

sigh

Things change and sometimes there isn’t one darn thing you can do about it except shrug and move on.

9/21/12: Fernando Rodriguez Pitches 3.1 Shutout Innings Of Relief For A Win

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Froddy really came through – deserved this one all the way. When he’s on, he’s on.

Edgar Gonzalez pitched a 1,2,3 first, then Jed Lowrie hit a 3 run homer in the bottom of the second to give him a lead. Edgar came back out to stat the second – got Garrett Jones on a grounder, and ran over to tag him. I thought he was kind of walking funny afterwards, when he walked back to the mound, but he pitched the next few batters anyway.

He got a K, then gave up a 7 pitch single and a 7 pitch walk and next thing you know, Francie-poo and the trainer were out – saw something they didn’t like, and he got pulled.

Froddy came in, got an easy grounder to short, but Altuve wasn’t anywhere nears second, and by the time Lowrie’s throw got to first, it was late. Stuff like this has been going on all year. Bases loaded. But Froddy gets the pitcher to K, and so Lowrie’s late throw, fortunately didn’t matter.

Problem with me is that I watched Adam Everett for too many years and my expectations are kind of unrealistic, although I have gotten to the point where I say that they just have to be better than Mark Loretta/Miggy Tejada. Barmes was pretty good last year.

Saint Biggio was up in the booth and did his usual magnificent job of managing to say lots of Bull Durham stuff about The Process. He made it VERy clear that he had NO interest in being manager, was liking “helping” out Jeff Luhnow, who is this great and smart guy who just made this incredible draft this year, which was, of course, responsible for the success of all the minor league clubs, including the draftees/tradees of Ed Wade. I like it. Sounds just like Biggio.

Also, he made it clear that Brad Ausmus was not in the running for manager. Toldja so. Brad is a lot of things but stupid isn’t one of them.

I also liked how Biggio explained that the team now has “money to spend” and they are gonna spend on the draft (like they have a choice – the CBA dictates that) and they are looking for just the “right” free agent at the “right” time. And until then, we are gonna not block blahblahblah. Translation – we are gonna get some on his last legs Veteran Presence like Darin Erstad/Jason Michaels to take ABs away from young players.

Back to the game: Froddy pitched 3 more scoreless innings, giving up only 1 single, which was erased on a caught stealing – they pitched out and got Sterling Marte, supposed to be the fastest guy in the league, now that Dee Gordon is out for the year. He struck out 3, including a staring strike 3 to Andrew McCutchenon the lower inside corner – a real beauty.

Didn’t get to see any great glove work from Brandon Barnes, starting in center again – YAYYYY, but Altuve made 2 really excellent plays – a stop on what looked like a sure single up the middle – threw a dribbler over his head to Lowrie at second to force a runner. He also made a great glove n throw.

It sure was nice to get to see Froddy pitch so well. Francie-poo did the lefty/righty thingy in the 6th, but since the Astros were ahead 6-0 by the 7th, let Mickey Storey pitch the entire 7th, Rhiner Cruz the entire 8th and Wilton-ie the 9th in a non-save.

Astros left bases loaded in the 6th – as usual, but fortunately, it didn’t matter as Maxwell hit a cheapo solo homer into the Crawford Boxes – barely populated, Lowrie was HBP – on  his injured knee – hit his brace, fortunately, then Brettsie-poo tripled him home. Tripled???? you ask? Yes, he hit a ball to the RF corner and the ball kind of hit the padding and didn’t move and by the time Garrett Jones chased it down, Lowrie had managed to get home and Wallace to third – and without a throw. Then Bogu, pinch hitting, walked and stole second – without a throw. He really is a GOOD baserunner. Then PH Scott Moore walked and Altuve was HBP, driving in a run. But the next 2 hitters left bases loaded. Can’t understand why on earth the Astros can’t seem to hit for spit with bases loaded.

Brett Wallace also hit a solo homer in the 7th offn a LEFTY!!!! into the RF bullpen.

So the Astros remain stuck at 102 losses, but that’s OK since the Cubs also managed to pull off a W and the Astros continue to lead the ML by 10 games. In losses, that is.

Tomorrow, it’s Kevin Correia, who kicks Astro butt vs Dallas Keuchel, who had better get his sinker ready to sink and not throw so darn many pitches out of the strike zone.

Sunday afternoon, rubber game – AJ Burnett, suffering from Bud Norris Syndrome since Aug 21 – his past 7 games – can’t buy a W no matter how well he pitches, and he’s had 3 QS with no cigar. Jorday Lyles hasn’t had a really BAD start since Aug 1 at Milwaukee, and the Astros appear to be limiting him to 5 innings/90 pitches thereabouts, which makes good sense. He’s pitched VERY badly vs the Bucs in the past, has a 7.71 ERA.

9/20/12: Bud Norris Loses Again

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Cards sweep, Carlos the Jackal remembers how to hit and Astros get closer and closer to that Sacred All Time Road Loss Record.

Watched Bud pitch. His motion has really changed since the beginning of the year. I don’t know how to do GIFs, but his motion used to be short, compact, with him bringing his hands up to his face, almost. He has a much longer stride, and he seems to, how to put it, have a longer throw. He gave up 6 hits, FIVE walks (and the ump was dead right every single call) and a homer on a hanging slider. He threw 111 pitches, 60 strikes, 51 balls.

Of his strikes:

called strike – 17
swinging strike – 9
foul – 18
hit – 6
groundout 1
flyout – 7

called K – 2
swinging K – 5

swinging strikes on

FB – 2 1 1
slider – 2 1 1

3 ball counts that did not end in a walk: 4 (plus 5 walks, 3 on 4 straight balls)

He threw (that I count) 5 changeups, all of which were balls.

He used to look determined, the bulldog look. Now he looks grim, almost a I’m Gonna Get Through This Somehow – kind of look. It’s not that he “expects” to lose or has no confidence, but sort of a, I Can Get Through This – kind of look, not expectant, not quite resigned, but definitely NOT the old Bud. He’s jinxed – no matter what he does out there, he just CAN’T win. And I’m sure he didn’t appreciate Wesley Wright letting his 2 stranded runners score after he left in the 6th.

He’s throwing too many pitches – too many balls, and I mean WAAAY out of the strike zone and not one of those Chase Me pitches on a 0-2. He’s having too many pitches fouled off – not enough movement. He also got lucky because both Brandon Barnes, who I’m liking more and more, made a fabulous diving catch as did Jason Maxwell.

I don’t know what to do with the poor boy. He’s not having more success with this delivery than he did with his delivery at the beginning of the year when he was winning. I’m not sure why it has been changed like this, or if it has been done deliberately or accidentally. But I’m sure he’ll be relieved when this year is just OVER. Not sure what they’re gonna do with him. It’s not like they have all these young starters ready to come up. There has been talk for years about turning him into a closer, but really, at least with THIS team, he’s more valuable as a starter for the simple reason that we are using Fernando Abad, Armando Galarraga, Edgar Gonzalez, etc, as starters, and Bud is still better than they are.

sigh

I don’t guess I have to talk about the Astros doing their usual suckage with bases loaded/RISP/MOB, do I?  Because there really isn’t anything new to say. Unfortunately.

And Wandy had a lousy game today to put the Pirates below .500 – so we aren’t gonna see him in the upcoming series.  Pirates have removed James McDonald, who turned into a pumpkin, from the starting rotation (and Erik Bedard is gone), so we’ll be facing rookie John Locke, who wasn’t real too especially good last time we faced him.

We’re home again, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see if we can’t improve upon that road loss record