June 2006

No one said it would be easy

Capt3a93efb16e444053810fcf8ec0d6e2ebastrWandy Rodriguez couldn’t with the Detroit offense. Well, few pitchers can these days. Seven earned runs and 10 hits in 6.2 innings. Ivan Rodriguez was the main attraction, going 3-for-5 and driving in 3. The Tigers would bring three more home in the eighth. The game ended in a 10-4 rout, in yet another loss for the Astros.

We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. But not this hard.

A win is a win, but…

Capt374d1466a6854c3388bd40714a379fb2astr_1 It was ugly. Very ugly indeed. The Astros finally beat the Chicago White Sox with a 10-9 score, after 4 hours and 25 minutes of game time, an interference from a fan in the stands, on-again, off-again rain; and for the second day in a row, a bullpen collapse.

It seems that I’d only need to change the names to yesterday’s post, because the story was practically the same. Roy Oswalt, in front of an international TV audience (the game was broadcast across North, Central and South America), did business as usual on the mound, tossing seven solid innings in which he granted two runs, five hits and struck out 7.

The offense wasn’t quiet at all, having its peak moment with two consecutive homers by Mike Lamb and Lance Berkman in the fifth frame. Lamb keeps on his incredible offensive moment, with a .333 average, going 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored. It’s Lamb’s sixth home run this season, and Berkman’s 22nd.

Two more Houston runs were produced by a sacrifice fly from Berkman and a single by Morgan Ensberg. A Paul Konerko dinger would mark a 9-2 score in favor of the Astros before the eighth.

Russ Springer got the relieving duties, and that was the start of something as painful to watch as Connie Chung’s infamous farewell musical number.

Captf9a9bed026bd4ca3ab2138514c52b2bdastr_2 A three-run blast from Tadahito Iguchi would get the pale hosed even closer in the score. And in the ninth, Brad Lidge was Iguchi’s victim. The Japanese-born player went yard, and you know very well grand slams have been the trademark in this series. And that’s how we got to extra innings once again. Here’s an outrageous fuel for thought: How is it that such a stellar performance by Oswalt was wasted, with such an advantage? If you understand, please send us a comment on the box below.

Luckily for the Astros, the bullpen got itself together. Chad Qualls only gave up a hit in 2.1 innings, Trever Miller got a K in a third of a frame, and Fernando Nieve was strong in 1.1 inning, getting the win.

Capt6826782a15ce4835b9945d317b596191astr_1 On the thirteenth inning, Adam Everett connected a triple with a fan interference, being driven in by Taveras.

The Astros and its fans should be happy because, after 6 games, including 4 in last year’s World Series, they finally beat Ozzie Guillen and his crew. But you can’t help but feel odd about it. Because this was not the way it was supposed to be. In these two games, the bullpen has been responsible for making the Astros in jeopardy, facing extreme risks. It was a win, of course, but the headline should have included Oswalt’s stellar performance; instead of a fan’s interference or a group of relievers who did anything but. That’s why the upcoming series against the Tigers, one of the hottest teams in baseball, will be held with a reserved prognosis.

Beyond logical reasoning

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It’s a tough relationship the one you keep with baseball. When the game is generous to you, it rewards you handsomely. Otherwise, it’s unforgiven.

I’m still trying to understand how the Astros could have a stellar performance by Taylor Buchholz on the mound, in front of a national TV audience, and still lose. The Houston rookie threw a wonderful game, fanning eight and retiring a considerable amount of hitters in a row.

The offense was also doing its part. Mike Lamb hit three doubles, and you saw that the threat to pale hosed starter Jon Garland was always there.

But a base on balls to Jim Thome with 1 down changed everything. The score was 5-1 in favor of the Astros by then.

Singles by Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye loaded the bases. The ball was handed over to Chad Qualls.

Everything was erased. In an instant. Joe Crede turned the tables with a grand slam, and in the eleventh inning a walk off single by Alex Cintron drove in the definitive run. The final was 6-5 White Sox.

This series so far has been all about grand slams. We hope tomorrow it won’t be the same. There are games which defy all logical explanations. Relief didn’t work. Some would say Phil Garner left his starter for way too long. How could he not do that, if that kid was inspired on the hill?

We’d rather turn the page instead of filling our minds with senseless explanations, trying to explain the unexplainable.

Back to normal?

Capt2db20a4e134b438caef7066364e166f7twinTonight’s game story, regretfully for us, is not Roger Clemens’ comeback. We dedicated ourselves to give you extensive detail of that particular story. We wanted to bring you instant photographic memories of this game just as we got them. We believe we did it. Thomas also did a great liveblogging job.

Sure Clemens was the one who got all the attention, the reason behind all the media frenzy, and the reason why ESPN broadcast this particular game at Minute Maid Park. But one day, someone will pick up the box score from tonight’s game, without noticing first hand that Clemens staged his third return to baseball in as many years, after an unprecedented interest. That person will see that the Minnesota Twins beat the Astros thanks to a superb pitching job by Francisco Liriano, who granted two runs in eight frames, fanning seven. Those two runs came in the eighth with a home run by Jason Lane, the start of a suffocated rebellion. Lisa, we sure missed you for a Mighty Mouse Award and some explosive hitting.

Joe Nathan, usually a shaky closer, struck out 2 in the ninth.

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These were the 2005 Astros all over again. Not just in the roster, but in getting a good start by Roger Clemens (not a dominating one, but good enough) and not being able to enjoy its fruits due to a terribly anemic offense. Those Astros, nonetheless, went all the way to the Big Dance. Reviews are mixed on this team and if they will repeat the feat. This was normal in 2005. What is normal for 2006?

Thanks Rog

Capte2a24013b43140b18903d1fbd0e9ce7btwin100 pitches, 59 of those were strikes. 2 runs, 6 hits, 4 strikeouts, and 2 walks.
That’s today’s stat line.

Welcome back

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Postcards from Minute Maid Park

Capt3cd71731e12b42d8a8492e58115cc973twinHe’s been, despite the loss, going stronger in each inning. I’ll let Thomas do the live commentary. For now, I’ll just keep on sending you instant postcards from tonight’s event.

The impressionist-art version

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I hope I can get a print of this one

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