Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bottle, Rocket

The Mild, Wild Ride.
Que Es Esto?
In actuality, the parity around the NL is the cause of the supposed mediocrity of play. If most teams are damn near equal, well, no team is going to torch everyone, and few teams are going to get blown away. Teams beat each other up, it leads to similiar near-.500 records.
Astros stand 3 games back of San Diego.
Roger Clemens continues to prove that the Astros literally could win every time he starts. Seriously.

Now there's 5 total teams standing betwixt those Bla'stros and sweet, delicious, saucy and sticky postseason action.
Five teams: 1 from the Central, 2 West, and 1 East standing between Fall Joy Rides down I-10, 45 and 610, or hoping the Rockets have a point guard and the Texans...

---Wait, Houston has a football team?-----

SinSinNatty cannot understand Greg Maddux's 'old-school game' and swing confused sticks all night. No longer looking so shiny, the reds might be fading.
Dodgers win 7-3. yay Reds lose!!

Dave Roberts heaps the Padres up on one of his legs and Bruce Bochy on the other for a 4-1 win and the lead in the NLWC as of now! they're monks!
Monkey Friars! Whose dog is splattering poop like a monkey's racehorse!

Philadelphia begs Ryan Howard to truly consider owning more than just this particular city, maybe perhaps the World.
Howard becomes the first hitter to record a 'W' without pitching in a 5-1 win over the sorta a city with a team, Washington (DC).

Florida loses to St. Louis 13-6.
No one likes a St. Louis victory. Let's just nod at the Marlins loss.
Catch some mercury there unwanted Miami Fish Baseball Club.

And the senior PGA SF Giants are somehow stickin' around.
What are they, like, all pumped up?
To play baseball?
Atlanta chops 'em down to size with a 5-3 win.

Andy Pettitte gets t
he start at home tomorrow night and has done very well in the big box o' juice his last 2 starts: 16 IP, 17 K, 2 BB, 7 H, 3 ER (4-2 W over Pads, 1-0 L to Cubs grrr).

Ride The 'Stache.

From Mike: There was a shutout last night, so I had to add the Mark It Zero picture. Such a great image. Walter almost intimidated BOTH teams into scoring ZERO runs last night. But Huff was man enough to standup to this fictional character to knock in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th. Just in time....

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Happy Happy Birthday!!

Hey, who wouldn't want a $73 Million birthday present? Yes, folks after the trade deadline scare, where the Red Sox, Mets and a few other teams thought they could get their hands on Roy Oswalt, last night the Astros signed him to a 5-year, $73 mil deal, with an option for a 6th year. That's roughly $14.6 million per year, and that 6th year option is worth $16 million. This solidifies Roy as one of the top starting pitchers in the league and THE ace of the Astros staff. When you're the ace and you've got Clemens and Pettitte behind you as 2nd and 3rd starters, that's a damn fine staff.

The consolation prize for his birthday was an Astros win, although Roy didn't get the Dubya. They had an early lead with a pair of home runs from Luke Scott and Biggio. But Roy gave up a series of hits in the 7th to tie the game at 3.

The Astros countered with a HUGE 8th inning. Well, Danny Kolb helped out. 6 consecutive batters reached base in a row, and everything was capped off by Jason Lane's first career grand slam. Kolb had walked in a run before Lane's at bat. Jason's a pretty patient hitter, and he took 3 straight balls from Kolb. With the count 3-0, Kolb grooved a fastball right down the middle of the plate and Lane rocked a grand slam off the wall above the Crawford Boxes. There were still no outs.

But next up was Willy T, who had another shot to continue his hitting streak against
Derrick Turnbow. He was beaned twice last night (once in the head) and Turnbow struck him out to end his streak at 30 games. Longest in club history and 2nd longest of the year. Congrats, Willy!

WC update

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Burke Everyday Man

Ryan Freel.
Michael Cuddyer.
Bill Hall.
Rich Aurilia.
Chone Figgins.

Chris Burke.

All the above mentioned names are utility players that have played themselves into full time roles, either at one position or at multiple spots. Except Chris Burke.
Hell even Nick Punto and Ty Wigginton and more are getting everyday play daily. Chris Burke seems to always be on the cusp of an emptying glass.

Is there any reason Chris Burke cannot play every game in September?
Remember his play in October 2005? His grit, promise, and determination?
We need this kid! This year, next year, next year, and so on.
Let him play, let him develop. Don't wait for him to develop, play him every day and let him develop.
He'll be that much stronger in Feb-March-April 2007 if he knows he IS playing 145-160 games in 2007.

Players need FULL seasons in the majors to truly develop into a well-rounded, consistently contributing ballplayer.
Chris Burke has only 284 AB this year.
318 AB last year.
If he just gets 350-400 ABs again next year, that's it.
No longer being a youthful prospect, he'll have missed his chance to develop in his prime while he had youth to blossom. He'll still be good, but not as good and not for as long.
Chris Burke should get 500+ AB in 2007. Absolutely should.
And play everyday in September.

WC Update

The Reds, who were tied with the Cardinals at one point are now 3.5 games back of the NL Central lead, but still lead the Wild Card by half a game.

So many teams mired in a pretty uninteresting race (so far). Even the Reds are still only 2 games over .500.
Most interesting development is that San Fran & San Diego have been playing well recently. Hell, the Marlins have won 8 straight, and the Braves are still in better shape that the Astros.

Everyone's still in it, and someone's got to get hot and be able to run away with this thing. And I know It's been mentioned before on this page a few times before, but consistency is key.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rain, Rain Go Away

I started watching the movie United 93 during the rain delay. It's pretty good so far, but somewhat worn fare for a movie, especially if you've read the first 100 or so pages of the 9/11 Commission Report. An interesting movie nonetheless and it should strike a chord with everyone that could do nothing but stare dumbfounded at CNN that day.


After the delay, Willy T singled to extend his streak to 30 games. Now he's only 5 games behind Chase Utley's 35-game streak for the longest of the season. Lance then knocked in Willy to give Hirsh an early lead 1-0.
Jason Hirsh got through the first 2 innings, giving up only a single to X. Nady.

Willy is an on-base mac
hine. He reached base for the 2nd time, by walking in the 3rd. He advanced to 2nd on an errant pickoff attempt by Chacón and then scored on a Mike B-lamb double. Did anyone know that Shawn Chacón was born in Alaska? Howz about that? Burke walked and Berkman reached on an error to score LAMB! 4-0 Astros!

Hirsh cruised through another scoreless inning. I'm really liking this Berkman, Burke, Everett & Lamb

A couple of base runners allowed by Hirsh in the 4th, X. Nady singled on a bloop to center that even Willy T couldn't get to that scored
José Bautista. 4-1 Astros.

In the top of the 5th, Mike B-Lamb walked and Burke singled to push Lamb to 3rd for Lance, who's been hitting .377 with runners in scoring position by the way. LANCE hits a 3 run HR OUT OF THE PARK!!! Over the wall and almost into the Allegheny River. 7-1 Astros, a

Hirsh loads the bases again in the bottom of the 5th for Jason Bay with only 1 out. And out comes Coach Hickey, as Chris Sampson (formerly the closer at AAA Round Rock) starts getting warm. Bay pops out to Lance in foul territory and Burnitz pops out to Scott to end the inning. Still 7-1, whew...

Willy, ground rule doubles to left on a hit that would have easily been a triple for him. Willy's 3 for 3 with 2 runs so far and is now the catalyst in the top of the order the Astros have been looking for and expecting him to be for a while now. B-Lamb follows with a single. Willy gets caught in a rundown after Burke grounds to 3rd, but he runs around long enough to allow Lamb to reach 3rd a
nd Burke to 2nd before getting tagged out. Intentional BB to Lance to load the bases. Lamb scores on a grounder to first that Huff beat out. Nice, another run, 8-1. Another run, Burke scores on a sacrifice fly by Scott, 9-1. Everyone's getting into the offense today!! Everett doubles down the 3rd base line to score 2 more runs, AND Ausmus singles to score Everett. Now everyone's been on base except for the pitcher (Scott hasn't hit, but has walked twice). Hirsh bats for himself, and pops out to first to end a 5 run 6th inning.

It's now 12-1 Astros and Hirsh is back on the mound in the 6th and we've got some defensive changes. Berkman gets the rest of the day off, Lamb moves from 3rd to 1st, Huff from RF to 3rd, and Orlando enters the game in RF. Flexibility people, very important!

In the 9th, Everett tripled and was knocked in on a sac fly by Lane. Bottom 9, Trevor Miller comes in, gives up a single and beans
Ryan Doumit. But no runs for the Pirates. Final Score: 13-1. ASTROS WIN and take 3 out of 4 from the Pirates.

Now the Astros are headed home to Houston for a short 6-game homestand, which starts Tuesday against the Brewers. When they met earlier this month, the Brews took 2 out of 3 in

--matchups-- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
: Tomo Ohka (4-3, 4.42, 44, 27) vs. RoyO (10-8, 3.23, 120, 29)
Dave Bush (9-10, 4.89, 135, 34) vs. Wandy (9-8, 5.51, 79, 56)
Doug Davis (9-8, 5.17, 125, 85) vs. Clemens (6-4, 2.50, 64, 16)


Today's game is brought to you by....

Minute Maid Orange Juice. Helping pirates deal with the horrors of scurvy since 1945.

According to the updated Wild Card standings, the Astros are still technically in this thing, but every loss is a kick to the groin in what is ultimately a pissing contest. I'm not too sure what that means exactly, but you get my point.

Today's Lineup:

Willy T, CF
Lamb, 3B
Burke, 2B
Berkman, 1B
Huff, RF
Scott, LF
Everett, SS
Ausmus, C
Hirsh, P

Now Hirsh's starts have alternatively been bad, good and then bad. So if this trend continues, today should be one of the good ones.

And as of 12.42 pm, we've got a delayed start of the game due to rain. Whoop dee doo!

So Small From Space

The Astros finally can Breathe in, Breathe out, and relax.

Play the game of Baseball. Enjoy taking the field and trying to win that game.

WAS it really just 2 weeks ago Andy Pettitte crushed a homerun.
A mere 2 days after Roy Oswalt went yard.
All was joyous in Houstonia and Astroland.

Saturday, the Astros played winning baseball once again.
No matter the details, but the consistency was (again) provided by certain alphaBetical letters.
B's. and T's and P's and E's.

Andy Pettitte battled his ass off once more and gave what he could, which is pinpoint accuracy and meticulously good delivery.
It has increased his K's, yet made his "missed" pitches more hittable. So it seems.

Onto Chris Burke.
Absolutely should play in 97% of games in Septemeber 2006.
And all of 2007.

It seems parity is the antedote to complete despair, as those Astros beat the Pirates 7-4 and praps defibrilated some nearily smeared hearts that still, well, Bee-lieve.

Nobody mention Willy T's 29-game hit streak.
Let his talented legs and bat swoop upwards of a 40-gamer.
...and let the 2-3 hitters behind him give him a chance to steal, and do things to increase his chances of scoring a run. (Chris Burke, Luke Scott, Lance I Like)


Six games under .500 once again. Really, I can whole-heartedly accept a .500 season.
The sheer joy I've experienced (mixed with dread) the past 2 (18) years cannot be matched.
Tim Purpura and Drayton. Don't "shave the 'stache."
Keep him around. I suppose I'd like to see Adam Everett in 2007 as well.
And Brad Ausmus.

There seems to be 5 of 8 offensive spots ready to go next year.
Try out every option this year so there is absolutely no
"We don't really know what we have yet" scenario in 2007.

Lobby for Burke. Lobby for Bees. Lobby for wins.
Let's all go. Lobby.

BY the way, I miss this guy.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poor Poor Pitiful Pirates

Interesting lineup tonight.

Willy, CF
Burke, LF
Berkman, 1B
Morgan, 3B
Scott, RF
Biggio, 2B
House, C
Everett, SS
Wandy, P

Love to see Burke 2nd and Biggio 6th. Morgan batting cleanup though? I just don't understand. A bases loaded situation fell to Craig in the first. He grounded out to end the inning, but I'd rather see Craig up there in those situations instead of setting them up. 3 walks in the first inning to Willy T, Scott and Morgan.

Time for a Vietnamese Food break. I'll check back in probably around the 7th...

As I'm about to leave Willy T bunts his way on and Burke knocks a 2-run bomb. Astros lead 2-0. Burke definetly needs to be batting 2nd from now on. Ride the hotness, my friends...

Pirates Preview Post

According to the updated Wild Card standings, the Astros are still in the race. But being 6 games back with 7 teams still ahead of them, the Astros are like the limping, injured guy who's about to get lapped by the rest of the competition.

Here's a quote from RoyO I read on Yahoo Sports.

"We lost a lot of ground the last three or four days. We've got to go to Pittsburgh and pretty much sweep the Pirates."

YUP, that about sums it up. This is more or less their last ditch, desperate-as-hell, now-or-never series.

--matchups-- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
: Wandy (9-7, 5.37, 72, 56) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (2-3, 3.74, 35, 24)
Friday: Clemens (5-4, 2.58, 62, 15) vs. Paul Maholm (5-10, 4.86, 98, 66)
Saturday: Pettitte (11-13, 4.51, 153, 59) vs. Victor Santos (5-8, 5.65,
71, 38)
Sunday: Hirsh (1-2, 12.75, 11, 11) vs. Shawn Chacón (6-4, 6.99, 41, 49)

Anyone want a four-game sweep for desert? Sweet, delicious sweeps...

PS> I just couldn't help myself...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Time and Money (and a dub-ya)

Give up Now?
After spring training and
4 months of season?

We've already sunk 6 months into this.
That's more time than we've sunk anything before.

'W' today avoids the sweep.
Praps the pressure is lifted from the 2005 NL Champions now.
It is tough to fully recover from a World Series sweep, and a season of uncertainties.

The Astros could use Homer J's Wonderbat.

For a day they played like Monty Burns Team O' Ringers, scoring 6 times in one inning in a 7-3 win.
One good approach at the plate turns into good at-bats for everyone. This happens frequently infrequently for the Astros.
They win a lot of games when they have that 1 or 2 innings where everyone takes a thoroughly good approach.
Nobody pulling the ball, trying to hard.
The 'Stache pulls ROY O after 6 strong innings. In fact, Roy owned the Reds after the 1st inning today. AND he OWNS the Reds in his Career (16-1, now 17-1).
Just 6 IP when the bullpen is shaky?? Let him finish it, 'Stache. What's to lose?

Las notas del juego del beisbol
N) THE LINEUP - Willy T leading off, with Chris Burke 2nd again. I like the look and speed. But why Ensberg 4th? Luke Scott gets the day off, but when he's back in there, how about hitting him 3rd with the same 1-2, and Lance 4th.
Willy T now has the Astros club record for hit streak at 26.

N) Lance for MVP fizzles because the Astros have popped. The urgency and pressure on Lance to go 3-for-4, 2B, HR, 6 RBI Every Game for the Astros to win has led to a lot of poor at-bats for Lance. We still love ya fats.

T1)Burke rips one to leftfield and hustles his ass right out of the box to get a double on his legs as Adam Dunn routinely plays the ball.
Love the agression and passion.

B1) THE REDS - Phillips the speedster leads off, with Scott Hatteburg hitting 2nd.
This works very well because Phillips has speed, and Hatteburg has a high OBP% and rarely strikes out.
Sound strategy. Griffey with a hit, 2-0 Reds.

T4) Ensberg appears to have Zero Pop right now. A fat pitch right down the middle, he sizes it up, studies it, considers swinging, and then swings weakly and flies out to left.
N) Healthy/Post-Brain Fart Ensberg would have socked that into the seats.
(And Healthy/Post-Brain Diarrhea Brad Lidge would stop talking, thinking, and just nail these games down) What happened to that Houston Clubhouse?

B4) ROY (Young, someday) starts shaky the first 3 batters.
Instantly his veins strengthened as his stare turned into a very ticked-off look of determination. Since the 3 hits, 2 runs 1st inning, Roy has allowed 2 singles and whiffed 6 of the past 9 hitters.

T5) Adam Everett made sweet eye-lovin to the seams of the baseball and walloped a legit homerun. 2-1 Reds.
Willy T extends the inning and his hit sreak (26 games, club record) with a bunt hit.
1st and 3rd, one out. Burke pops up. Overtrying a bit, but he and Willy T have energy together. This is good.
*N) Remember, this is Adam Everett's 2nd FULL season in the Majors. Really.

T7) Chris Burke, RBI single! He chops a bleeder (if that is possible) through the left side.
Doug Mansolino sends Brad Ausmus from 2nd, and Ausmus is rounding 3rd as Dunn picks up the ball in LF. Dunn overthrows it, Ausmus scores to tie it.
Bags full after the IBB to Lance.
Morgan (0-7, 2K with bags full '06) takes 2 pitches that look like strikes, and Wally Bell calls both of them balls. Todd Coffey disagrees with Mr. Bell, who in turn does not particularly enjoy Mr. Coffey's objections, and gives Coffey the Heave-Ho!
Showers Away!
N)Has Ensberg always given 10 little check swing warm-ups before the pitch?
Is he going a little schizo right now? Chill Morgan.
Of course Morgan walks. RBI walk nonetheless. Ensberg now has 86 Walks.
86 BB is staggering for a man hitting in the .230's. And he missed time this season.
He is 4th in the NL in BB! Shocking. If he gets that swing straightened out, oh boy!

Huff opposite field RBI! Lane up the middle RBI! Everett through the gap in RF!
6 runs. Looks like fun!
Like South Park, maybe if they don't try to win, they'll win.

1) Russ Springer. Gives up 2B, RBI 1B first 2 hitters. Recovers with two grounders and escapes the inning.

B8) Trever Miller.
2) Two quick outs. Hits Encarnacion on a 1-2 count. Weak grounder to the mound from Dunn, easy inning. Since Miller adapted a 3/4 drop-down arm angle, he has become a much better pitcher. Once a strict lefty-lefty guy who couldn't be counted on for a whole lot, Miller now gets lefties off-balance, and swoops in to righties.

T9) Huff pegged in the ribs. Delicious ribs. Jason Lane does not make the Reds pay and whiffs, looking. The Beast, Adam Everett, goes oppo for a single again.
Up the middle, opposite field, only leads to good things.

B9) Wheeler.
3) Wheels looks a little Lidgeish today. Double. BB. He calms down though and gets out of it, Astros win!
That's better than yesterday! Pirates Tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Astros Don't Play Tuesday

The Astros lost. Horribly. It seems a baseball game was scheduled for the day, but the Astros just didn't play.
The call for Hirsh has gone bad. TOD: 7:53 p.m. central.
I cannot be disapointed or heartbroken, the Houston Astros have given me more than I ever expected the past 2 years.
Without a chance at that FIRST World Series one more year, here goes something else.....

On July 12th, this happened:
Tampa Bay Devil Rays trade OF/3B Aubrey Huff to the
Houston Astros for AA SS Ben Zobrist.

As of Aug. 22, here are the 2 teams records:
Tampa Bay 51-75
Houston 59-67

Each team' record after trade:
Tampa Bay 12-25
Houston 16-20

Congrats to Willy T on his 25-game hit streak. Bunts count, dammit.
Maybe he can hit in every single game. He has that speed.
Someone send Willy T to train with Ricky Henderson this winter.
I want 100 steals!
aaaaand a World Series.

Monday, August 21, 2006

reds game 1


¡SEVEN! teams are still within 5 games of the Reds (Giants, Rockies, Astros and Brewers all tied at 5 games back). This chart was accurate before today's games.

I've got bad news, folks. Against the Reds this year, the Astros are 2-7. But we're all hoping that another new-blood transfusion, in the form of JR House, can keep the offense swinging. Yes, there's a new backup catcher in town, boys and girls. House got called up from Round Rock, and down goes Munson. This year House batted a combined .343, 13 HR, 95 RBI in 120 games at Corpus Christi and Round Rock. Ausmus is still starting tonight, but maybe we'll get to see him hit at least.

In the first, Willy T bunted his way on to extend his streak another game, but he got thrown out at 2nd trying to steal. Good to see some agressiveness, but didn't work out this time. Berkman homers to left. TV said that he's hit more home runs at the Great American Ballpark than any other visiting player. GO LANCE. Arroyo follows by striking out Luke Scott and allowing another dinger, this time by Aubrey Huff.

Bottom of the 2nd, Pettitte loads the bases, but strikes out Bronson & Freel to get out unscathed. Still 2-0 Astros. Pettitte loads the bases again in the 3rd, and strikes his way out of it again. Boy, he's not making this easy for himself. 77 pitches already through 3 innings. Maybe Andy should read up on effectivness & efficiency. He finished with 118 pitches in 5.1 innings. A LOT better in his last few innings.

Aubrey hit another HR in the 7th. Three runs, three dingers.

One dinger by the Reds, and the game is tied at 3. Rich Aurilia hit triple-scoop dinger in the 8th off Qualls. Then Phillips scores on a ground ball off a diving Everett's glove. Reds lead 4-3. Ah, yes! It's about time a reliever other than Lidge let us down.

With Everyday Eddie on the DL, Scott
Schoeneweis came in as the closer du jour for the Reds. He gets through Lamb, Berkman and Scott. and the Astros fall to 6 games back of the Wild Card now. Not the way they need to be moving....


Sunday, August 20, 2006

I know it's OK, but is it really?

Just got back from the noon show of Snakes on a Fuckin' Plane at Alamo. It was pretty great. Exactly what you'd expect. Snakes killing people, people killing snakes, Samuel Jackson swearing, Keenan and more movie stereotypes than you can shake your tail at.

What's even better? I come home to an early Astros lead. And Clemens is pitching. 3-1 Astros. Corey Hart hit a HR off Clemens in the 3rd. The Astros runs came on a bases loaded walk to Jason Lane that scored Willy T, and a 2 RBI double from the offensive juggernaut known as Adam Everett. The Brews are wearing their
throwback uniforms with the classic 'mit' logo.

Biggio's got the day off while Burke starts at 2nd base, and 2nd in the lineup. Morgan started at 3rd and went 0 for 3 with 1 BB, 1 K. He didn't leave anyone on base this time though.

So, I missed the exciting parts of this game. Clemens allow
ed only the HR and struck out 7 in 7 innings. No runs for either team after the 3rd inning. Clemens doesn't qualify to be a leader in ERA yet (ERA Leaders: Minimum 123 innings pitched, he's got 73.1). But if he did, he would be leading all of baseball. His 2.58 mark beats NL leader Josh Johnson's 2.84 and Johan Santana's 3.10.

But I must mention the most interesting of times
ever in any Astros game this season. Bottom of the 9th when the Astros lead by a few runs. They showed a shot on TV before the 9th of Lidge seated while Borkowski and Wheeler were warming up directly behind him. It's got to be weird for Lidge to be used to a certain role and kicking ass at it, then to be removed from that role because of his recent shaky performance. I hope he gets things figured out and can return to that same kickass level sometime again with Houston or not. He's been one of the best closers in baseball the past couple of years and it would be sweet to see him doing that again. Wheeler got the call and gave up a leadoff double to Bill Hall, but ended the game and got the save.

Clemens moves to 5-4, and the Astros split the series with the Brews.
Astros are still tied with the Brews at 5 games back of the Wild Card. Neither team picked up any ground. And to let you know how the season is going, the Astros are only half a game ahead of the lowly Atlanta Braves.

Almost done, but I've also got some Jason Lane trivia for ya. His highest batting average of the season is .233, which he had back on April 26th. It has mostly fluctuated between the .220s and the .190s all season, mostly. But I'd still rather have Lane get the occasional start over Preston K Wilson. I'd rather have an excess of walks over strike outs every time. Lane's OBP is still about 20 points higher than Preston. But that average, Jason, is just so bad.

Did you forget that Willy Ts hitting streak is still going? It was extended to 23 games today with a single in the first inning. And one last thing I didn't see until I checked my fantasy league is Lance Berkman stole a base in the 1st inning. It's his 2nd of the season and 46th of his career. The Astros travel to the Wild Card leading Cincinnati Reds next.

--matchups-- (W-L, ERA, K, BB)
Pettitte (11-13, 4.65, 143, 55) vs. Bronson Arroyo (10-8, 3.45, 138, 41)
Tuesday: Hirsh (1-1, 6.75, 9, 6) vs. Kyle Loshe (2-5, 5.96, 68, 27)
Wednesday: Roy Oswalt (9-8, 3.24, 113, 29) vs. Chris Michalak (1-1, 5.91, 2,4)