Astros-Nationals: One Game Over Five Hundred

Yeah, yeah, the Astros won 6-5 last night, but damn, did any of you actually watch that game? It was awful. Home plate umpire Brian Runge called one of the worst games that I’ve seen in years. He was bad for both teams, though that balk on the Nationals in the seventh inning was a rather unbelievably bad call in my opinion. The Nats outfielders made Carlos Lee look competent in the field, and when Lee looks competent, you know the outfielders are bad.

Do I have any other thoughts? Yeah, Shawn Chacon sucks, and the fact that the team is still depending on him to be a solid pitcher does not bode well for the rest of the season. But I am very much liking that Fat Elvis is becoming the Big Puma – last night was the first five-hit night of Lance Berkman’s career. I’m thankful every night for Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence in the outfield, especially, once again, after watching the Nats trying to play out there.

But despite the Astros coming from behind, again, to win this game, I am still in agreement with the Chron’s Brian McTaggart when it comes to this team. They’re not that good. When the offense is clicking, like it has been the past week, it can beat just about anybody – except for good pitching; I firmly believe good pitching will always defeat good hitting. But when the team slumps, there is just not enough good pitching on the roster to pick up the team.

But enjoy the victory for now, especially because, with the victory, the Astros record moves to 17-16. That’s right. The Astros record is over the five hundred mark for the first time in nearly a year.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

Roy Oswalt (3-3, 5.57 ERA) gets the start today, and he goes against Odalis Perez (0-3, 3.18 ERA).

***************** For the four games of this home stand, Berkman is 12 for 18 with two homers, four doubles, eight runs and seven RBI. On fire.

***************** Ten years ago yesterday, Chicago Cubs rookie Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros batters. I still remember listening to that game on the radio. Wood was phenomenal. And he was phenomenal for that rookie season. It’s really a shame his career was wrecked by injury, because he could have been up there with the greatest pitchers ever. But now he’s merely one of those what-if stories.

But damn, that one game was just special. I’ve seen no-hitters where the pitcher wasn’t as dominating as Kerry Wood was that game. And to think, if Wood and Mark Prior could have stayed healthy, the Cubs might have been the National League team of the decade.

***************** I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m agreeing once again with a Chron writer, Jerome Solomon, in that it is way too early to be giving up on Michael Bourn. Bourn is phenomenal in the field – and with the range that he and Pence have, the inability of Carlos Lee to field a position is almost negligible. When he gets on base, he has shown great instincts for stealing bases, or for advancing on hits. Finally, the Astros aren’t going to compete this year. Let the kid play, and let him get comfortable. I would probably move him down in the order, for now, so that he can get a bit more comfortable at the plate. But don’t give up on Bourn. Let him gain an identity. (Pun intended).

Also, there is nothing wrong with Hunter Pence. He started off slow, but his average and on-base percentage continue to rise. Pence and Bourn could be a great outfield combo for a long, long time to come.

***************** The funny moment of the night is courtesy of Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies. At one point, Deshaies got to talking about Vin Scully, and the two got to talking about the great baseball voices they listened to as they grew up. As they spoke, Fox Sports cut to a shot of Milo Hamilton, and both men agreed they had never heard of Milo when they were growing up.

***************** Finally, I want to address a pet peeve. When a bad guy homers into the stands, stop with the throwing back of the ball. Just because Cubs fans do it doesn’t mean you have to do it. And one of the reasons this bugs me so much is that I’ve been out in the outfield seats in the past, and I’ve been in sections where an opponent hit a homer, and I’ve seen a young kid get the ball, then I’ve watched you morons pile on the kid and boo and shout and essentially force him to throw the ball back. No kid should ever have to throw back a baseball because a bunch of morons want to copy a tradition started by drunken Cubs fans. – John Royal


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