6/22/08: Man Bites Dog: Backe Beats Kazmir

Husband and I went to an out of town wedding last night, and I come back to find that the Astros lost when they should have won and won when they should have lost…

Today, Brandon Backe decided that it is better to walk a guy than throw him something good to hit and really, his only mistake was a FB up to Evan Longoria (first rounder in the 06 draft, brought up in mid-May, has 12 homers already, is NOW age 22 – unlike anyone in the Astros system, you know what I’m sayin…) What is really amazing is that Brandon only threw 85 pitches over 6.2 innings AND this includes 4 walks. What is the absolutely most incredibly amazing is that the Astros struck out TWELVE times, had only 6 hits and 4 walks and they weren’t able, as usual to manufacture any runs except for a solo homer and a 2 run homer. And this time, the bullpen held.

It’s so funny – this team was supposed to be hitting 5-6 runs a game. Here in June, over 19 games, this team has scored 66 runs (3.47 runs/game) and given up 100. Of course, the problem is that not enough hitting has been done with men on base…

Take the Saturday untelevised game: Lance Berkman plays small ball – advances to second on a swinging K and an error, then steals third, then comes home on a grounder to give the Astros the go-ahead run in the 8th. Then, in the 9th, out comes our old friend Dan Wheeler, the guy with the 1.96 ERA in the AL – meaning facing Yankee and Red Sox lineups, and gets Ausmus and Bourn – oh, all yall wanted pinch hitters. Like WHO??? And then in comes Broakey (which is what Milo keeps calling him – one of the many reasons I hope HOPE Milo retires at the end of the year) and Cliff Floyd singles on an outside FB, Hinske singles on another FB waaay outside the strike zone (I should mention here that Brocail was all OVAH the place with his FB) and then on an 0-2 count, hits Navarro with an inside FB. Then Gabe Gross, Astros killer, doubles on a soft liner inside the LF line that Erstad can’t get to (so we can’t blame Carlos this time) and there goes the ball game. And yeah, there was some bad luck there – but Brocail was NOT locating very well.

But then again, let me run through a few points on the game – some bad luck, some bad swings:
First inning, 2 on 2 out, Carlos Lee hits a ball to deep center which Upton makes a GREAT running catch on. 4th inning, Carlos homers – wrong inning, unfortunately, then Blum singles and Pence strands him. The Rays tie it on a double, then a Carl Crawford triple – and of course there is no tape, so I have no idea whether or not Bourn mis-played that ball or not. But then in the 5th Ruggiano wins a 12 pitch at bat with Wandy and sends it to left – can’t tell if that would have been into the Crawford Boxes of just off the scoreboard at home, but hey, what can you do.  In the 6th, Wandy got 2 out while loading the bases with 2 soft singles and a walk, and Geary came in and got the third out.

Have all yall noticed I haven’t been talking about the Astros hitting? Well, it’s because they were going down 1,2,3 in every inning except for the 4th. Now here we are in the 7th – Lee singles, Blum doubles, no outs. Pence lines out, Erstad IBB, Loretta walks in the tying run. Bases loaded one out. Bourn strikes out swinging on 2 curves and Kaz flies out. And there, my friends, is the story of the problems with the 08 Astros since June 1 – when they DO get runners on, they don’t get runners IN (not to mention all the GIDPs and the CS.)

AND the bullpen has been blowing the few leads this team has had. So let’s take a look at Brocail: He’s appeared in 37 of the 75 games this year, pitched 37.2 innings. In April, he appeared 15 times, gave up 5 runs†over 2 of them – totalled 15 hits, 2 BB – 15.2 innings, 2.87 ERA. In May, he appeared 14 times over 14.1 innings – 11 H, 3 BB, 4 ER. In June, he had 4 perfect innings in 4 appearances until June 13 – He gave up the game losing homer. On June 17, he gave up the game losing 2 runs. On June 18th, he pitched a 1 single, scoreless 9th. June 20, he threw 1 pitch and got out of the inning. June 21, he gave up 3 hits, 2 ER and lost the game. Is he tired? hurt?

Maybe this is why – or, at least ONE reason why Chacon is being sent to the bullpen. He has stated in absolutely NO uncertain terms that he is, um, not happy about that. The Astros are calling up – NOT Jack Cassel and his 6-1 2.05 ERA (because Coop OBVIOUSLY hates him – maybe Dewey does too, who knows), but Runelvys Hernandez and his 3.65 ERA. Runelvys, by the way, has a career major league ERA 5.38, WHIP 1.58, 1.18 HR/9, 3.66 BB/9, 4.18 K/9. And he’s being sent in to face the Red Sox.


The Red Sox win by getting pitchers to not throw strikes, getting ahead in the count, then hammering strikes. You know, what the Astros never do. But hey, youneverknow – it is baseball and if the Astros can knock out Scott Kazmir in the 6th inning after 110 pitches, maybe ol Runelvys will throw low unhittable strikes.

Of course, Coop has not yet announced who will be sent down/DFA when Hernandez comes up. Here are the choices:
Backe, Brocail, Byrdak, Chacon, Geary, Moehler, Oswalt, Rodriguez, Sampson, Villareal, Valverde, Wright

Let’s eliminate the obvious (Backe, Brocail, Byrdak, Oswalt, Rodriguez, Valverde, Wright)
That leaves Chacon (who can refuse an assignment to the minors and I would be shocked beyond belief if he didn’t choose to be released instead), Moehler (I doubt it – he’s had only one BAD start and can be counted on for 5-6 IP with 3-4 ER given up), Sampson (I wouldn’t be surprised – and if he goes down, I would bet he never gets back up until Sept, unless someone is hurt) and Villareal (who is the one who SHOULD go, but he also can refuse an assignment to the minors, so we’ll see.)

They could, of course, send down Reggie Abercrombie and be short a bat. Against the Rangers – well, it ain’t their pitchers who are scary. Against the Red Sox – well, don’t guess it matters real too much because neother Reggie Abercrombie nor any other position player in the Astros sorry ass farm is going to do anything with them.

AND, last but not least, before we head off to Dallas – which team has more sac-bunts, the Rangers or Astros? (hint – one has 19, the other has 26…)

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12 Responses to “6/22/08: Man Bites Dog: Backe Beats Kazmir”

  1. JDolla$ says:

    I can answer your quiz – because I’ve been following the Rangers pretty much night by night, and one of the big things about Ron Washington this year is his propensity to bunt in all kinds of situations. Before he blew his hammy out this weekend, we even had a catcher who would throw down a drag bunt about once per series. Guess there won’t be a Salty trade this season, after all.
    I’m looking forward to the finale of the Silver Boot this week.

  2. Kevin Bradshaw says:

    Byrdak should be deemed most expendable. He’s not good. A few lucky outings and Cooper falls in love w/ him. Remember Nate Bland?

  3. Lisa Gray says:

    you think byrdak is worse than villareal?????

  4. Kevin Bradshaw says:

    Oscar Villareal is a saint!!!
    But no, not really. I forgot about him. He’s younger. It’s no great loss, got him for nothing (yes, fans who think 67 AB is the measure of a man, Josh Anderson is nothing, or the major league equivalent thereof).
    I can’t believe the local media and certain fans claimed the bullpen would be better this year. Starting the year w/ Villareal and Brocail slotted for late inning roles.

  5. Travis says:

    Did anyone watch Baseball tonight after last nights game? The guys were openly laughing at valverdes end of game antics/celebration. I dont really care as long as he finishes the game and we win but it made me wonder if its embarrassing any other fans.
    Im looking forward to this Rangers series maybe more than ever, my 2 year old daughter was taught by her uncle to say her favorite team is the Rangers… that will be set str8 over the next 3 days!!!

  6. Kevin Bradshaw says:

    I think Valverde’s antics are tacky. I cringe everytime he celebrates after getting a save. Memo: that’s your job, stupid.
    I do, however, enjoy it when he pitches well.

  7. Kevin Bradshaw says:

    I mean I enjoy the good pitching. The antics always annoy me.

  8. Lisa Gray says:

    a WHOLE lot of fans INSISTED that your granma would be bettern lidge and qualls. who give up homers. and good riddance to wheeler too.
    and they got what they asked for.
    – seems to me i remember a whole lot of fans wanting berkman to shutup about talking about valverde’s antics. and yeh, it IS tacky. but the fans like all that emotion i guess.

  9. Steve Schramm says:

    Valverde’s a jerk, and Lance isn’t. However, If the team’s winning and Valverde saves 47 games, then Valverde’s colorful. If the team’s mediocre and so is Valverde, he’s idiotic.
    Crash Davis said it best: “Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob. ”

  10. marmer says:

    Crash Davis said everything best.
    “…I gotta pretty good idea about that ten-cent head of yours.”
    “Ball four”
    “Willie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.”

  11. Steve Schramm says:

    Hey, it’s Charlie, not Willie!
    And Nuke only had a five-cent head, according to Crash…

  12. Lisa Gray says:

    oh myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy
    that really WAS the best baseball movie EVAH.