Mama told me that last night, there were maybe 16K fans actually IN the stadium and it felt as if almost all of them were C*bs fans. So when one of her friends called me and asked me if I would like to use her tickets, I said sure. Hey, free is free.
Yesterday, there was an article in the Chron, as well as a blog entry by Richard Justice about the fact that Minute Maid Park is the only ML baseball stadium which bans all outside food and drink of any sort (except for pre-mixed baby formula.) The food and drinks are extremely expensive, to say the least, especially considering the poor quality, so we don’t buy food at the ballpark. It was a little bit warm today, so I warned Lil Miss, who I was taking as a special treat for her, uh, behaving her little self for 7 days straight (which, trust me on this, is a REAL major achievement, sort of like Wandy hitting an upper deck homer) to drink a LOT of water before we left home, and after leaving the car and walking to the Box.
I wanted to make sure we were WELL hydrated BEFORE going inside so I didn’t get any whines about how someone was thirsty, even though I understood that we would be spending a good part of the first 3 innings in the Ladies Room. Then of course, we could go and get a free soda with my designated driver coupon and spend the NEXT 3 innings in the Ladies Room,
but I digress…
We wandered through the main level, partly to see if people were still buying all the food and drink as usual, and they were and partly to see if I was still the only person in the Box with a Wandy T-shirt, and I was. Wandy should just go ahead and change his name to Wandy Dangerfield, because he don’t get no respect neither.
Anyway, I was disturbed to see Quintero catching Wandy because, unless something has changed, Wandy does NOT like throwing to him and also by the fact that Maysonet was benched and Mat Kat-astrophe was playing second. Yes I know Zambrano is a righty, but playing Kata instead of Maysonet is yet another example of Cooper taking his platoon obsession past absurdity and ludicrousness to insanity.
Wandy started off decently enough, getting 1,2,3 out, although he needed 18 pitches to do it. Then Bourn led off with a single to center – I always like it when the Astros get a hit in the first because then I don’t have to worry about us getting no-hit. But then Miggy hit the next pitch, which was out of the strike zone right back to Z who fired it to second for a 1-6-3 so easy that even Roger Clemens could have turned it. Pence then hit the very NEXT pitch, which was way inside and popped it up.
Lil Miss turned and looked at me. She said – you shouldn’t swing at pitches that aren’t strikes. Well, yeah. It’s one thing to swing at a GOOD first pitch strike, but these guys have already seen Zambrano twice this year and they know good and well that with him, you HAVE to work the count.
I had a bad feeling it was gonna be a bad night for Astros hitters, and yeah, it was. It’s not that the Cubs did so well themselves in spite of the fact that the home plate ump called 15 of Wandy’s pitches that were called strikes for Zambrano as balls – I mean, I checked with Gameday when I got home.
Wandy was absolutely dead calm on the mound, like he didn’t even notice. He’s not the old Wandy who would get upset and with good reason. He only got flustered once and that was after 2 of the strikes he threw to Soto in the second were called balls and he threw a belt high outer third FB which Soto hit off the facade in left above the middle window. Then Scales hit a single to Berkman’s right that he usually gets for a 3-1, no problem, but for some reason he didn’t go after it and Kata came and got it, too late to get the runner.
Meanwhile, Z gave up a single to Carlos Lee to lead off the second, then needed only 8 more pitches to retire the side. In the third, we FINALLY had a great hitter work the count on Zambrano – yeah, Wandy himself figured that SOMEone better take some pitches and he took 7 pitches to get out as Miggy and Carlos only needed 5 combined.
Z continued to get 1,2,3 outs, needing only a couple pitches per batter until Bourn finally got to him again in the 6th, drawing a walk!!!! YEEEE HAHHHHHH!!!
Wandy gave up a leadoff walk in the 5th but then retired the next 9 guys over the next 3 innings and left, losing 1-0. He threw 7 good innings, giving up 1 homer, 3 piddly infield singles and a single to left. AND he worked quickly – you would have thought it was Roy up there. Bad thing was that he couldn’t throw the curve for strikes again – he only threw 3 which were in the actual strike zone and 1 of those was called a ball.
The Astros managed to tie the score in the bottom of the inning when Pence walked, Carlos singled and Pence beat the throw to third then came home to score when Blum grounded out, Lance having popped up ball 4.
Sampson came in and didn’t have the best command at first – gave up a LONG fly ball to Sori which Pence caught at the very edge of the RF bullpen, then a clean single to center to The Riot (I swear that guy has become the new Pest) then had to pitch some more when Tejada screwed up a dead simple 6-4-3 by bobbling the ball in his glove after getting Riot out. I know that is not an error, although it should be, but not making easy plays is not good. Tejada’s glove has deteriorated this year. Derrek Lee then singled, but Chris struck out PH Fukudome on 3 straight sinkers.
Z came back for the 8th and got 3 outs on 8 pitches.
I figured that it was gonna be a LONG night and wondered how many innings Fulchino could pitch before they would have to call Ortiz.
Sampson came back for the 9th and got 1,2,3 out.
Then, to my surprise, a reliever came in instead of Zambrano. He must have been tired because he was only at 104 pitches and he often goes for another 15-20 pitches.
Oh well. Fortunately for the Astros, his replacement wasn’t near as good. Miggy singled, Pence walked again (no swinging at slop), Carlos flied out to center, but Miggy beat the throw into third. Lance was IBB – yes, he was. Even though he had looked bad all night, hey this is a new pitcher and youneverknow. Lou was hoping that Blum would GIDP (reasonable plan) or would at least ground out and then Kata would be a dead easy out unless, of course, Coop used Maysonet as a PH, seeing as how Erstad and Michaels are on life support.
But the pitcher left a fat one in the strike zone and Blum muscled it into center and Miggy scored the winning run.
Lou had a GOOD plan – it just didn’t work. This is different from having a BAD plan (playing Kata instead of Maysonet) and not losing in spite of it.
So Wandy didn’t get a W, but then again, he didn’t get a L either.
In other surprising news, Geary was taken off the DL and sent down to AAA. I sure nuff was surprised. I mean, REALLY surprised, and I’m a tough person to surprise. After all, Geary is The Veteran and Arias and Fulchino are not. But I wonder if this is Fast Eddie getting even with Geary for refusing his minor league rehab assignment.
We’re still short at least 1 pitcher because Paulino hasn’t been put on the DL. Not sure why they wait and go short on pitchers when guys do things like pull hamstrings
And in the very most surprising news, we got out of the stadium, back to the car and home in 25 minutes, which must be a record. The announced attendance was 29K and I’d bet that there were close to that many people actually there. And best of all, there were only 2 C*bs fans in our section and they were more into each other and their beers than the actual game, believe it or not.
Tomorrow, it’s Ryan Dempster vs Russ Ortiz.
Oh yeah – and it’s Russ Ortiz because apparently, Roy’s wrist is bothering him. I sure hope he pitches as he did when he relieved, which is, to say, good.