Astros-Dodgers: Carlos Lee Homers, Houston Loses 4-1

Do you ever find yourself watching an Astros game yet you just know, despite what the score says, that there’s absolutely no way the Astros are going to win the game? I was thinking this during the first inning last night. Even though the Dodgers were only up by 1-0, there was just something that told me that, no matter what happened, the Dodgers were going to win the game.

And I guess losing a game 4-1 is what happens when the Astros as a team have only two at-bats with runners-in-scoring position for the entire game. And of course Jeff Kent continued getting his revenge against his former team. So far in this series Kent is 6-for-11 with a game-winning home run, three doubles, and four RBI.

It would be easy to blame this game on Shawn Chacon Runelvys Hernandez. Sure, he was responsible for giving up four runs in five innings, but I can’t stress enough that the team just look defeated from the moment they took the field. This leads me to pointing out that Miguel Tejada had another oh-fer last night.

The Astros avoided their third shut-out of the season when Carlos Lee homered to the choo-choo train tracks with one out in the ninth inning.

The loss dropped the Astros to 0-2 for July and 40-45 for the season. And with the Pittsburgh Pirates win over the Cincinnati Reds, the Astros once again find themselves in fifth place in the NL Central.

The Astros will attempt to prevent the Dodgers from winning the series in a day game today. Brandon Backe (5-8, 5.12), who sucked big time in his last outing, will be facing Chad Billingsley (7-7, 3.38) of the Dodgers.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

The Astros made a big move yesterday. Oscar Villarreal was designated for assignment, and Dave Borkowski was recalled from Round Rock. Yep, that’s going to make all of the difference. Remember, Borkowski was sent to Round Rock because he was even more ineffective than Villarreal was earlier in the season. And it tells you how bad the game was that, after the game, the only positive thing Neil Hohlfeld and Greg Lucas could find was the performance of Dave Borkowski.

Villarreal, Richard Justice reminds us, is under contract to the Astros until next season at over a million dollars per year, and he is, as Justice also reminds us, another of Ed Wade’s great moves. It’s not up there with trading for Miguel Tejada on the eve of the Mitchell Report, but it’s still a pretty big screw up.

But this move kind of pisses me off. Villarreal was on the pace to set the record for most home runs surrendered in a season by a non-starting pitcher. I really wanted to see him get that record.

******************* Our quote of the night comes from the Chron’s Zachary Levine after mentioning the Astros had three hits in an inning but failed to score: “But hey, the proposee on the Kiss Cam said yes, so all things are good in Astroland.”

******************* I’m not usually much for in-game interviews with players in the dugout. I think that all involved are generally more focused on the game, as they should be, and as a result the interviews give off even less substance than a Lisa Guerrero sideline interview.

That said, I really enjoyed last night’s in-game interview with Brad Ausmus, primarily because the ones doing the interview from the TV booth were his daughters. I’ve always been an Ausmus fan, and I have always thought he’s one of the most intelligent guys in the game. Instead of joking around, he actually made a serious attempt to answer their questions. I think the best part, and the most touching part, was when one of the daughters asked if he preferred being the main catcher or the backup. Giving an answer I’m not sure most players would give on-camera during a live interview, he made it clear he liked being the starter, but that he realized time had passed him by.

I know a lot of people are unhappy with Ausmus, but I still think that guy is an asset to the team, and I hope he isn’t forced out but can instead leave on his own terms.

******************* And this is for you Sancho….

The Tampa Bay Rays swept the Boston Red Sox last night, coming from a 4-1 deficit to win 7-6, thanks to six runs in the seventh inning. The Rays have the best record in baseball, and they now have a 3.5 game lead in the AL East. And getting the save for the Rays last night was former Houston Astros reliever Dan Wheeler. Don’t you just know that Gerry Hunsicker is sitting in his office right now, just wondering who he can rip off from Drayton come the next trading deadline?

But I think my favorite part about the sweep was when the Rays played the BoSox theme song, “Sweet Caroline,” immediately after getting the last out.

Speaking of Neil Diamond, this version of “Sweet Caroline” is for my high school German teacher, Mrs. Rosita Boening, who has to be the biggest Neil Diamond fan in the world.

-- John Royal


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