You know it was Carlos Lee on a horse bobblehead night and kids feel a bit different about seeing an Astro onon a horse than I do. I asked my Mama if I could take her ticket to the Box when it opened to grab one of those, uh, action figures for my boys. But she told me that she had already bought a ticket for me, so off I went to get my Official Action Figure. I was surprised to see all the fans already gathering as the attendence had been so low for the Cubs series.
Guess they want to see all the young guys as much as I do and in fact, I saw a LOT of people carrying signs for J.R. Towles. I was really pleased with Towles. He had one passed ball, but he seemed to receive the ball very well and I sure didn’t see any evidence that he had any trouble calling pitches or dealing with umpires. In fact, he caught 7 different pitchers, including Qualls and Brad Lidge. I was surprised that he wasn’t pulled for Brad Ausmus, but nope, and he did a great job, and if it was Towles who called the pitches for Lidge, gotta say he had every hitter fooled on every pitch. He looks like a young Biggio – he sure doesn’t LOOK any 6′2″ and he is slim and he runs VERY well. Hard to believe he was in A-ball to start this year. Dude owes Lou Santangelo BIG time.
Wandy Rodriguez needed 23 pitches just to get through the first inning. He sure had velocity on the FB, mostly 91-92, and I am beginning to think he has himself a reputation with umpires because, as usual, he didn’t get a single borderline call. He also only threw one change and the curve twice, so I starated wondering if his thumb was still hurting. I had a bad BAD feeling. In the second inning, he threw all but one FB and had some trouble locating (Ball 4 to Nyjer Morgan was a strike) but got himself out of trouble giving up only 1 run.
In the third, Freddy Sanchez led off with a single on a high FB that was only 87 (hmm, losing velocity??) then on an 0-2, looks like a FB might could have clipped his jersey and he was on. Then he struck out Nady on 3 curves and walked around the mound a bit afterward. I started wondering if his thumb was hurting. He then threw 3 of 7 curve balls to Pearce, and none of them came near the strike zone – and neither, in fact, did 3 of the fastballs that were fouled off and hit.
He then threw a 90 MPH FB down the middle to Ronny Paulino – guess he figured out that the curve wan’t working and Wandy wasn’t throwing his changeup and he sat dead red – and Paulino lined it into the Crawford Boxes. So he tried a changeup to Jack Wilson – low and outside. So he came back with an 87 MPH FB which he lined 350′ into the CB. Wandy’s first multi homer game since the debacle at Wrigley right after the ASG. He then struck out Matt Morris on 2 FB down the middle and a curve – nowhere near the strike zone.
If guys are hurt and can’t pitch well, they should freaking TELL someone because they just go out there and do lousy and then everyone just thinks they suck. It’s the end of the season, we have a zillion guys and we’re not exactly hurting for starters. Shut the guy down. Let him heal up. What’s the big deal?
I guess Coop must have decided that Wandy was in pain and ineffective, so he decided that with the pitchers’ spot coming up in the bottom of the third, just send in a pinch hitter and start checking out all the young guys. After all, how often do the Astros come back from a 5 run deficit? Or ANY run deficit, for that matter? I thought it was clearly the right decision.
Juan Gutierrez came in and pitched 2 excellent innings, giving up only 1 walk and getting 6 outs on 25 pitches, 16 strikes. FB was running 92-93 and he was throwing the curve for strikes. He also threw a couple of sliders, not Lidge/Qualls quality ones, lets put it like that… He looked incredibly better than he did in his last start, when he couldn’t get the curve over and threw FB down the middle.
Felipe Paulino pitched the 6th, giving up a hit and getting 2 Ks on 16 pitches. He threw 96 MPH heat and located sliders both sides of the plate.
Dennis Sarfate pitched the 7th. The crowd was all drooling over the radar – he was throwing 95-97. And he was locating the fastball, which was the only pitch he threw.
At what point can we finally conclude that Steve Randolph is not, um, major league material? He’s pitched in 10 games, 9.1 innings, and not given up any runs in 2 of those games. He has 11 walks, 15 K and 4 homers… He came in to start the 8th, got Kata swinging, then walked Ronny Paulino on 5 pitches – not even close. He sure walks a lot of guys. He then gave up a homer to Jack F. Wilson, for goodness sakes. The Jack Wilsons of the world should not be having 2 homer games. He got Phelps to popup – a tricky play, and then Nyjer Morgan hit a ball to the LF bullpen, almost out of the park, beating the throw into third. Anderson has a good, strong, accurate arm. I LIKEY this guy.
Man on third, Jose Bautista up and Coop sends in the pitcher who got beat last night. But not tonight – Qualls throws 3 sliders and Bautista grounds out weakly. Baseball is one of those games where sometimes the hitters make the pitcher look bad and sometimes the pitcher makes the hitter look bad. Youneverknow.
And Brad Lidge was his old lights out self. 13 pitches, 10 strikes, 2 Ks, 3 outs.
And the hitters tonight FINALLY decided to hit with men on base!!! Yes, there were 2 solo homers, but we scored 9 runs and only left 6 on. Sometimes, things go your way. Matt Morris, who had shut the Stros down the first 3 innings, gave up a lead off homer in the 4th to Carlos (who had left 2 guys on base in the first.) He then gave up an infield single to Pence, got Loretta to GO, then Wiggy homered. Hey!!!
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Towles then hit his first major league hit to RF, and then the good luck fairy showed up – this time for the Astros. Gutierrez laid down a sac bunt. It was a crappy bunt, back to the mound, but Morris rushed his throw, and instead of getting a nice 1-6-3, he over threw and Towles beat the throw into second. Gutierrez, who has the speed of Raul Chavez, made it into first. Men on first and second, 1 out instead of inning over. Josh Anderson then singled up the middle and Towles beat the throw home. Towles can RUN.
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Biggio singled through the 5.5 hole and bases loaded. You know what usually happens when the Astros load the bases, 1 out. GIDP, usually. I figured that Tracy would pull Morris with Berkman up, but nope. And Morris hits Lance with the first pitch.
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Unfreakingbelieveable. Tie game. This is what usually happens to US. The Box goes absolutely CRAZY. It’s good to have THAT kind of noise, even in the desperate fight for the NL cellar.
Anyhow, Jim Tracy FINALLY pulls Morris and sends in Salomon Torres to put out the fire. Darn if Carlos didn’t single up the middle, scoring Anderson and Biggio. But then Pence does the GIDP and it’s ovah.
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The Astros loaded the bases in the 5th when Towles laid down a perfect bunt single. The Hated Jason Lane came in to PH and he hit a ball to the right side of the pitchers’ mound, but the first baseman who fielded it for some reason didn’t throw home for the force but elected to tag Lane at first, so Lane got himself a GO RBI. And then Anderson and Biggio stranded men on second and third.
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Wiggy hit a solo homer in the 7th, and the Pirates scored 2 runs against the Worthless Steve Randolph, but we won.
No bad fielding!!!!!!!!!
And so far, Towles and Anderson are looking pretty darn good.
Root, root root for the young sters, if they don’t play it’s a shame…..