A Great Night For Huston
Unfortunately, a great night for Huston Street (who earned his 3rd save of the season) came long after a terrible night for the Houston bullpen.
The Astros rolled into Our Nation’s Capital to face the Nationals, who are not very good at baseball. Brian Moehler looked pretty decent in his first start after rehabbing an injury, allowing two earned runs and striking out 5 over 5.0 innings. But those two runs had come in the fifth, and with Moehler’s pitch count at 93, Cecil Cooper predictably pulled Moehler in favor of our oft-used bullpen.
The result? The Nationals score five runs, two of them on bases-loaded walks, as they bat around in the bottom of the sixth.
There was some good news – Lance Berkman went 2-for-4 with an RBI double, and for three solid innings, his batting average was at the Mendoza line. Yes, friends, Lance Berkman was a .200 hitter for three glorious innings. Kazuo Matsui reached base three times – a bunt single, a two-run double, and a walk – and for his trouble, he was plunked on the neck during a CST3. That’s a Caught Stealing with a Throwing Error on the 1st baseman, which is a fun score, but not the best of the night. More on that later.
The Astros managed 10 hits and 4 runs, and in general looked like an actual baseball team. It’s hard to find a lot of fault with the offense, actually. But the bullpen gave it away.
To be fair, it wasn’t the bullpen the Astros had imagined having coming into the season. Jeff Fulchino and Felipe Paulino gave up the lion’s share of the runs. Wesley Wright earned the loss by giving up 3 earned.
But I don’t know if it’s entirely fair to blame the bullpen, either. First of all, they’re overworked and Paulino is dealing with a new role. By all rights, he earned a rotation spot and Moehler has not. Their roles should be reversed.
But more than that, this was the first bases-loaded walk. As you’re about to see, there were two strike threes that went uncalled, allowing the big inning to escalate.
Ryan Zimmerman was at the plate with one out, the bases loaded, and the Astros up 4-2. With a 2-2 count, Paulino launched a slider at the corner. Not even on the black – it actually caught more of the plate than you’d like… and got called a ball. So he reared back and threw another slider, a little down and covering a little more of the plate than his second pitch (a foul) had gotten… and that got called a ball.
Pitch F/X data is not yet available, but those there look like two pretty good tosses to me. Had either one been called properly, Zimmerman would not have walked in a run to make the game 4-3.
Now, that’s not an excuse for losing, as the three subsequent batters reached base before Paulino got another out. But it changes the entire dynamic of the inning. Now Paulino feels he has to throw over the heart of the plate because he’s not getting calls.
Adventures in Scoring
I keep a scorecard for every game I’ve ever been to. I have a binder that contains the thousands of scorecards from major league, minor league, independent, college, and high school games I’ve attended over the years. When I watch or listen to a game at home, I keep score using a program called BallScore. I’m pretty new to the program, so I score games at home until I’m facile enough to use it “live”.
There’s one score that I love more than any other, but it’s pretty rare. That score is SHT1, because when I was a kid, it looked like a curseword but wasn’t.
Tonight, in the San Diego-Colorado game, it happened. In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and second, Padres pitcher Kevin Correia laid down a sacrifice bunt. Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa fielded it cleanly, but had a throwing error that allowed Correia to reach base. A run scored and runners were put on the corners.
Now, what’s truly fantastic is that it was followed by a rundown, which is always fun when scoring games. David Eckstein grounded into a 5263FC (3B-C-SS-1B) that nailed Luis Rodriguez at home.
A SHT1 followed by a 5263FC. That official scorer had to be in Heaven.
My girlfriend is incredibly talented, and she was asked recently by artist Gary Baseman to create two pieces for his most-recent show, “La Noche de la Fusion,” which is at the Corey Helford Gallery at Washington & McManus in Culver City. If you happen to be in the Greater Los Angeles area, I highly recommend it.
On Friday evening, we went to the opening. Now, I like art, but I don’t know a whole lot about it. I go to museums and occasionally to galleries, but I’d never been to an opening like this before. Then again, I understand that there aren’t many openings quite like this one.
The parking lot had been cleared and turned into a full-blown Brazilian Carnaval, complete with games and free alcohol and models walking around in costumes inspired by Baseman’s creations. I spotted David Cross there, in an ugly pony tail, as well as Andre from Project Runway, who was (curiously) running one of the Carnaval games.
If you’re able to make it, look for the “altar” near the front, where dozens of handmade idols have been crafted in the image of Baseman’s god-creature, ChouChou. There is one made of wood and moss, and another covered in thousands of jewels. Those are the two that my girlfriend made.
What Happened Was…
Round Rock Express (AAA) – The Express put up two runs in the top of the ninth to take their game against the New Orleans Zephyrs (FLA) 5-3. Brian Bogusevic went 3-for-5 and Matt Kata went 3-for-4 to pace Round Rock. Yordany Ramirez was 2-for-5 with a home run, lifting his batting average to .338 on the season (26-for-77). One has to wonder who would get called up if there was an opening in the outfield – Bogusevic, Reggie Abercrombie, and Ramirez have all looked pretty good so far this season. Bud Norris allowed 2 earned runs and struck out 6 over 5.0 IP. So while it’s good news that the Express got the win in the series, here’s something to reflect on:
It’s May 4th, and this was Round Rock’s first series win of the year.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – Sergio Perez struck out 6 batters over 6 scoreless innings, “scattering” 8 hits to earn the win in the Hooks’ much-needed 10-0 laugher against the Frisco Roughriders (TEX). Justin Smoak, the man who should have been an Astro, went 1-for-4, his batting average “falling” to .353.&
nbsp; It was the Night Of Doubles for the Hooks – OF Collin DeLome, C Jonathan Fixler, and OF Josh Flores each had a double, and 2B Drew Meyer had two. Meyer paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with a walk and 3 RBI. OF Andrew Locke was 2-for-5 – he is now hitting .414/.438/.655 for the season.
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – If you like pitching duels, how about a 13-inning affair that ends on a walk-off home run? The Jethawks did just that, falling to the Visalia
Oaks Rawhide (ARI), 1-0, in a heartbreaker for Jeff Icenogle. Icenogle went 8.2 shutout innings, only striking out two, but walking just one and scattering four hits before Bryan Hallberg came on in relief, going 3.1 scoreless before giving up the aforementioned walk-off shot to earn the loss. With four hits over 13 innings, it’s hard to find an offensive player of the game, but 3B Marcos Flores hit a double, which was the Jethawks’ only XBH, so we’ll give it to him. Of course, he also had one of the team’s two errors, but I’m feeling generous.
Lexington Legends (A) – The Augusta Greenjackets (SFG) had four errors in this one, helping the Legends leg it out, 4-3. 3B Ebert Rosario was 3-for-4, raising his season numbers to .400/.425/.700 to come out of nowhere and establish himself as a legitimate infield prospect this season. Daniel Meszaros didn’t allow a single hit in 1.2 relief innings to earn his 9th save of the season.