Well, this is a change – actually WINNING an extra inning game in which we were losing, but managed to tie up. I guess we’re used to the other way around, in which we’re winning, the bullpen blows it, we run through the bullpen and a zillion innings, then lose on a grounder juuuust past a diving someone.
Cooper appears to be a guy who wants a starter to go 6 innings, then have a set 7th, 8th and 9th inning guy. Good grief. His problem is that this uses up the 3 best starters and requires him to pull starters after 6 innings, no matter what. He has about the quickest hook I can remember seeing in a manager.
Let’s take a look at the bullpen and innings pitched over these past 32 games:
Borkowski – 14.1 IP over 13 G: 20 H, 3 HR, 6 BB, 11 K – 4.40 ERA
Brocail – 17.2 IP over 17 G: 15 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 16 K – 2.55 ERA
Byrdak – 4.2 IP over 6 G (since 4/21): 3 H, 6 BB, 2 K – 0.00 ERA
Geary – 14 IP over 13 G: 9 H, 1 HR, 8 BB, 15 K – 1.93 ERA
Moehler – 7.2 IP over 5 G: 11 H, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 K – 7.04 ERA
Valverde – 17 IP in 15 G: 19 H, 4 HR, 6 BB, 22 K – 5.29 ERA
Villareal – 18.2 IP in 14 G: 18 H, 6 HR, 4 BB, 13 K – 4.82 ERA
Wright – 11 IP over 15 G: 6 H, 1 HR, 5 BB, 12 K – 3.27 ERA
At this point, we’ve played 20% of the season (can you believe it?) and at that rate, these guys will be throwing 80-90 innings, a lot more than most relievers can handle and will appear in 70 – 90 games. Yeah, I know about back in the good old days when every pitcher threw 300 something innings for years and years and pitchers threw 200 pitches a start every start and completed ALL their games unlike the wimps and sissies of today. But the fact is that it isn’t just the innings they actually throw, but how many days in a row they have to get up, warm up and throw. We all know that many times a reliever will warm up and not come in. The other thing is that Moehler isn’t effective if he isn’t used at least every 4 days. At this particular second, best I know, he’s supposed to take Wandy’s start on Wednesday and he really can’t go more than 3, maybe 4 at the most innings and it is going to be a long bullpen day and Coop better not change pitchers every inning if they’ve thrown only a few pitches.
Sampson gave up a few well hit balls and a whole lot of seeing eye singles and doubles down the line. He also got seriously squeezed by the HP ump, who didn’t give him several calls on balls right down the middle, thigh high, such as the “ball” that should have struck out Corey Hart in the first and Rickie Weeks in the 4th. He didn’t get ANY borderline calls, and in fact, when the ump rang him up on ball 4 in the second, he turned to the ump and said – you’ve been telling me that location isn’t in the strike zone all night. Or something like that, I’m sure.
The way his sinker sinks to rightys, there are going to be a lot of balls down the LF line and between short and third, and they surely didn’t get got today. The funny one was Ben Sheets, who hits like my 6 year old, hitting the first pitch down the line when they were playing for the bunt. It was even funnier when Sheets pulled a Jeremy Giambi and didn’t slide when Sveum sent him home on Kendall’s double off the scoreboard – AND he glared at the ump about the out call. Not that I blame Sveum for sending Sheets – Clank usually slowly jogs over to get balls hit to left – in fact Bill Hall nearly stretched a double into a triple, and Rickie Weeks would have. But Clank played the ball off the scoreboard and fired it to Tejada, who realyed home in time to nail Sheets.
It sure was a game with a whole lot of action though. Lance Berkman sure has shut up all those people who were hating on him last year, saying he’s fat (he isn’t) or he isn’t a leader (he is) or he’s dogging it (he wasn’t) and needs to be traded (he doesn’t). He used Sheets as his BP pitcher, hitting balls all over the place. He got an RBI walk to tie the game and a broken bat†infield single past the pitcher in the 12th. I think his leg really IS finally healthy – he’s running harder and faster than I’ve seen him since 04 and he seems considerably more agile at first, too.
Ben Sheets is a darn good pitcher and he gave everybody except for Lance fits. It took Bourn a few ABs, but he got cheated out of a badly needed hit in the 5th by Cheito Cruz, who took just a little too long to break from first on a blooper to right and was thrown out at second by Hart. By the way, I’ve checked the replay 3 times and I’m STILL not sure whether he beat the tag, I think he might have, but he didn’t read that ball well and he WAS too late taking off. Anyway, he scored a run on Matsui’s double all the way from first – damm that guy can FLY. Shouse, the lefty with the odd delivery, got him out in the 7th, but he walked to load the bases in the 9th against Eric Gagne, who couldn’t find the plate, but was stranded on 3rd by Carlos Lee, who GO to third on Ball 2. He DID single to center against Torres in the 11th, but neither Matsui nor Tejada moved him. I was a little surprised that he didn’t run, but I think he didn’t have a green light.
Hunter Pence looked bad all day, got the sombrero – looking especially bad swinging wildly at ball 4 around his eyeballs (practically) in the 8th. He had 2 pathetic popups. But he connected on an inside slider around his knees and sent it into the hall in back of the Crawford Boxes for his second career walkoff homer, so he picked the right inning to get hot.
Carlos had a bad game – not a single really well hit ball, and he stranded 6 runners.
But the honors of bad game of the night goes to Dave Borkowski. For the second game in a row, he cam in with men on and immediately gave up a homer. Micah Owings, the great hitting pitcher to whom he gave up the homer last time, hit a low and inside slider out – not a bad pitch, but Owings is a great hitter, no matter WHAT Cooper says. This time, Cameron hit a fat, juicy, hanging slider into the middle opening in left over the LF bullpen. You see, Albert isn’t the only ML hitter who knows what to do with hanging sliders. (And Lidge still has a 0 ERA and hasn’t blown a save.)
Remember earlier I was talking about the bullpen? And how Coop wants to use up the 3 best relievers for 7th, 8th and 9th innings? Well, Bork isn’t a stopper, he’s a mopup guy. You have to have someone you can send in with MOB who won’t let inherited runs score (most of the time) no matter WHAT the inning is. I don’t understand why managers don’t think that’s important. At this point, seeing how he’d never use a designated inning guy, I think his best bet is going to be Wesley Wright, the Mighty Mite. My second favorite Astro. And watching him race over to catch Counsell’s popup was the play of the game.
Pitchers hitting and fielding is kewl. Those DH luvvvers don’t know what they are missing, settling for lumbering oxes. Like Carlos Lee. Oh yeah.
Anyway, we have a day off and then the Nats come to town, then it’s a road trip to the West Coast to face the suddenly hot Dodgers and the better than expected Giants.
P.S. – Chad Qualls gave up his first ER of the year when his fielders couldn’t manage to get outs on easy grounders, failed to turn 2 DPs and made a 2 run throwing error. He must have felt like it was old times…