Brandon Backe Backe brought his A game fer SHER. He gave up a 335′ pop-up into the Crawford Boxes, a double off the LF bullpen wall and 3 singles and a walk and 6 K over 7.1 innings. He threw 105 pitches, 72 strikes. Of those 72 strikes, 16 were looking, 16 were swinging, 19 were fouls, 15 were GO/FO and 6 went for hits. That is 2 really well hit balls and one went for an out. Even the singles were 2 bloops and a single off the pitcher’s leg. Absolutely stellar outing. No other word for it. Brandon had his FB located, his curve curving and that slider was a thing of cruelty.
Actually, I was just a bit surprised to see that Coop let him go out to start the 8th with the Astros leading 3-1. But I see that Coop, unlike Garner, doesn’t strongly adhere to The Book of What Managers Are Supposed To Do These Days with the “set-up guy” pitching the entire 8th and the “closer” pitching the entire 9th and no extra or broken up innings. Coop also isn’t particularly a devotee of the leftylefty/rightyrighty thing neither. I’m starting to like Coop, I surely am.
After Brandon got Ruiz out, Dobbs doubled and Rollins singled and Brocail came in with runners on first and third. Rollins took off for second on the first pitch, Towles threw a perfect strike to Miggy and Rollins was out, except the ump called him safe.
Brocail struck out Victorino, then there was a big ol confab on the mound – I guess wondering whether or not to pitch around Utley or just put him on. In the end, they did both. Lance then made a GREAT play on a smash by Howard and Phils left bases loaded.
As for the hit parade, well, Hitter Pence hit an opposite field homer just over the bullpen fence just to the left of the foul pole to tie the game at 1-1 in the 5th, then in the 7th he hit a mammoth smash off the RR tracks above the ‘97 pennant flag†to put the Astros ahead for good.
Wiggy, I see, has been reading my blog and he has been showing me up for 2 days straight now. On May 19, he was hitting .217/.286/.319 and he sat out a couple days for Blum. So yesterday, he went 3/4 with 2 doubles and a run scored and today he went 2/3 with another double to raise his average to .263 – AND he made a play I’ve never seen him make, a fantastic stop and throw of a hard smash down the line. He moved FAST, something he doesn’t usually do. I like this Wig-man!!!!!
Towles laid down a beautiful sac-bunt, hit a long fly ball to the bullpen, then singled in the 7th, went to second on a sac-bunt, then scored a run, sliding in juuuuust ahead of the tag. He called a great game, blocked everything and it is obvious that Backe likes throwing to him. I hope HOPE this is the turnaround he NEEDS.
Bourn, well, his night didn’t go quiiiiite as well – he made an error on Burrell’s fly ball in the 9th, which went for a single and an extra base, instead of an out AND he grounded into a DP 4-6-3. Actually, I didn’t think that was possible with his speed, but hey. However, he DID catch Utley’s fly ball right at the base of that stupid hill (one of the little ironies of this ballpark – you hit a baseball 430′ to dead center, all it is is out but, you hit a popup 320′ by the foul pole and it’s a homer. Ah well, the ballpark giveth and the ballpark taketh away…) AND, his second time up with 2 outs and RISP, he hit a ball through the right side, allowing Towles to score to put the Astros ahead 3-1.
Matsui was ofer, Miggy singled, but was stranded. Lance walked, and he had just one hit, but the boy he sure made the most of it. He smacked an inside thigh high slider into the RF corner, which rattled around, and he turned on the jets and beat Jenkins’ throw into third. I swear that boy hasn’t run like this since the year he played center. Which was a good thing, because Carlos, who hadn’t managed to get Miggy home in the 4th or Lance home in the 6th, hit a FB to the RF corner and Lance slid in ahead of the tag with his patented behind the bag touching the plate with his hand slide. Dude is putting on a base running clinic this year. And a glove clinic at first, too.
Guess he is ganging up with Wiggy to make me look like a dam fool because I hadn’t disagreed with more than a few negative assessments of his glove at first based on his past few years’ performance. He looks like a different guy out there – in the Lee/Pujols class with the glove. (Yeah, Uncle is a great glove man. I hate that guy.)
And there were the Astros leading 4-1 with Valverde coming on to shut the door.
And things got a little, um, interesting. He hadn’t blown a save since April 22 in San Diego and hadn’t given up a run since April 17th in, um, Philly.
Well, he went to 3-1 on Burrell, who hit a mid thigh, outer third FB to center and he wound up on second. Geoff Jenkins gounded out. Then Pedro Feliz hit a comebacker off Valverde’s glove which deflected onto his FACE and he hit the ground. But he’s all macho and after the trainers check him out and he gets back up and he stayed in the game (hope he’s OK) to face Ruiz. He went to 1-2, then Ruiz singled and Burrell scored.
Astros 4 Phils 2
Then Valverde struck out PH Coste. 2 out. Jimmy Rollins up. He swings and misses at 2 splitters, then fouls off a splitter, then doubles on the very next splitter and Feliz scores.
Astros 4 Phils 3
Men on second and third, Victorino up. Three straight balls. Valverde KNOWS that Utley is on deck and he can’t be wantin ANY part of him because if he walks him, ain’t no place to put Utley. So he throws 2 FB for called strikes, Victorino fouls the next one off, then hits one to center where Bourn waits patiently and game OVAH.
Backe gets his very well deserved win and Valverde had to work VERY hard for that save.
And tomorrow, it’s Brett “Wifebeater” Myers vs Brian Moehler.
Ol Wifey pitched well against the Astros in Philly, giving up only a run (solo homer) in 7 IP. Overall, he’s 3-2 in 7 GS: 44 IP – 36 H, 8 HR, 16 BB, 36 K.
This year, he’s 2-5 in 10 GS over 59.1 IP – 74 H, 15 HR, 21 BB, 50 K (you know, I keep hearing all the media crowing about how homers are down – heck, Roy and Myers are both on pace to cough up more than 50 EACH this year, and Brandon is on pace for 45.) 5.76 ERA, 1.70 WHIP and a .307 BAA
Moehler has gone 5 innings in his last 3 starts, giving up 0, 3 and 3 runs. Lifetime vs the Phils, he’s 1-3 in 6 GS and 4 in relief over 36.1 IP – 51 H, 8 HR, 9 BB and 24 K: 6.94 ERA, 1.60 WHIP and a .332 BAA (yecccccch)
Wandy, by the way, made his rehab start and may be ready to rejoin the rotation next week…