Astros-Orioles: Birds Win, Luke Scott Talks Smack

A loss is a loss is a loss is a loss. Except when the loss is a loss. Like with what happened last night when the Astros lost 6-5 to the Baltimore Orioles on the first game of a six-game road trip. The Astros led the game at several points, taking the 1-0 lead in the first inning, and sitting on a 5-4 lead going into the eighth inning.

But these are the Houston Astros remember. And the Houston Astros had lost five straight coming into last night’s game. They’d lost a 2-1 game to Yankees on Friday when Derek Jeter homered off of Doug Brocail on Friday night. These were the Astros who got off to a 3-0 lead over the Yankees on Saturday night, only to lose 8-4. And these were the same Astros who didn’t even bother to show up for Sunday’s 13-0 loss.

But the Astros were winning last night. And they were up 5-4 in the eighth inning with Doug Brocail on the mound. That’s when speedster Adam Jones led off the Baltimore half of the inning and was sacrificed to second. Then Brian Roberts was walked, putting men on first and second with one out. Cecil Cooper made the call to the bullpen and in trotted Jose Valverde to pick up a real save, one where he would actually have to work more than an inning. And after getting right fielder Nick Markakis to strike out, Valverde went to work on third baseman Melvin Mora. Mora worked the count to 3-2, then got a hold of a Valverde fastball, sending it to the wall in the right/centerfield gap for a two-run double, giving the Orioles the 6-5 lead.

Oriole closer George Sherrill then used 14 pitches to end the game, sealing the victory for the Orioles and giving the Astros their 11th loss in 14 June games, and their 16th loss in 20 games. The Astros are now 33-38 on the season and are battling with the Cincinnati Reds for last place.

Brian Moehler (3-3, 4.76) tries to break the losing streak tonight as he goes up against Jeremy Guthrie (3-7, 3.71).

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

I guess you can say that the battle between the ex-Oriole and the ex-Astros was won by the ex-Astros. Former Astros utility-guy (and strip club fan) Aubrey Huff had a double and a homer with two RBI. Luke Scott was one-for-three, and Matt Albers went 2.1 innings while giving up only a hit and a run (a home run). Miguel Tejada, on the other hand, was zero-for-three.

According to the Chron, Luke Scott is happy to be away from the Astros, telling Jose de Jesus Ortiz, “I don't think that they believed in me. That's what I got from it all. I don't hold any hard feelings. Anyone has a right to run their team the way they do. It's OK. Not everyone's going to believe in you. Not everyone's going to have the same beliefs that you do.”

And Miguel Tejada was his usual graceful self as he responded to criticism from Baltimore fans by saying that even though he was gone, they still weren’t in first place.

Well, Miguel, you’re right about that. Though, unlike the Astros, the Orioles actually have a winning record and are a lot closer to first place than Houston is.

****************** Yesterday, I noted some communication problems in the Astros clubhouse, and I wondered if maybe there was a bit of a player/management divide. Well, Ortiz spoke to Cooper and Lance Berkman yesterday in an attempt to get to the heart of the injury matter, and while Berkman admitted to being injured, he said he could have played if necessary, but that he was glad for the rest, seemingly putting the problem to rest – though Oswalt was not heard from.

But Richard Justice won’t let the issue go, and it appears that Ed Wade forgot to speak to Berkman because Wade told Astros.com yesterday that there was no way Berkman could have played on Sunday. Justice suggests that maybe Wade should talk to his players before talking to the press, and hints at ass-covering by Wade and Cooper in an attempt to deflect anger from Drayton McLane over the lineup that was fielded on Sunday. (It also appears from the Astros.com article that Wade was trying to put the blame solely on Cooper.)

And I think Justice is right about the ass-covering. But the statements from Berkman about the issue, along with Oswalt’s on Sunday, still indicate to me that there are problems in that clubhouse.

****************** You might remember that, a couple of weeks ago, MLB came down with a mandate to speed up the game. And this mandate is the reason that Cecil Cooper was fined by MLB yesterday. It seems that Sunday’s game was a bit longer than it should have been.

****************** If you remember, a big complaint of mine during spring training was the inability of Astros radio broadcasters Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan to grasp the basic geography of Florida, specifically, their inability to understand why the Tampa Bay Rays played in St. Petersburg if they were named Tampa Bay. Well, listening to the start of last night’s game, the two finally grasped that St. Petersburg actually was part of the Tampa Bay metro area, a metro area which also encompasses the city of Tampa, and that the city of Tampa is a different entity than Tampa Bay. Good going, guys.

And finally, if you remember my season picks, you’ll remember that I predicted that the first National League manager to be fired would be either Willie Randolph or Tony La Russa. Well, at least I was right about one of my predictions as Randolph was the first manager fired this season. – John Royal

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