Astros-Padres: It's Going to Be a Long Season

Wow. Can you believe it’s time for another baseball season? I’m pumped. I love baseball. Even bad baseball – which is a good thing because the Astros are going to suck this year.

I’m going to try something a little different for tonight’s game. You’re going to read my thoughts, as the game happens.

So, let’s get to it…

PREGAME: I turn the TV to ESPN 2 because Fox Sports Houston isn’t televising the game in Hi-Def. I didn’t spend all of that money to watch an event in low-def when I can see it in Hi-Def.

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Hey, isn’t that Adam Everett at bat for the Twins with the bases loaded? Damn, that was just inches from being a home run. Boy, doesn’t that just sum up Everett’s career? Just inches short. And Everett makes an out – now that’s the Adam Everett we all know and love.

HEY! What happened to ESPN 2? Why do I just have a black screen? They better not be blacking this thing out. I love you Brownie and Jim, but I want my Hi-Def. Okay, the cable guy tells me it’s blacked out on ESPN 2. So I’m forced to take the low-def route over at Fox Sports.

I know it’s been a couple of years now, but I still think Jim Deshaies looks funny with the bald head.

TOP FIRST: Michael Bourn leads off the game with a single. Hey, it’s Hunter Pence. Hunter, MY MAN! Watch out for that glass door. Oops, pop up to the second baseman. So Lance is up to bat. You know, someday, he’s going to show up in shape to start the season. But this isn’t that season.

Oh my, God. Bourn just stole a base. That’s something that’s been missing from the Astros lead-off man arsenal for a good while now. And Lance walks – two men on base. Isn’t this what they call a rally?

Carlos Lee swings at a pitch bouncing in the dirt and pops up to the shortstop. And now Mr. Steroids is at bat. Tejada gets a 3-0 count on Jake Peavy. This is promising. For the Padres…as Tejada pops up to the first baseman. Someone give Tejada a B-12 shot already.

BOTTOM FIRST: What’s Ausmus doing in the game? I thought this was supposed to be J.R. Towles’s job? Oh, well, one down as Ausmus catches the Brian Giles pop fly in foul territory.

Tad Iguchi doubles to the right-center field gap. Pence and Bourn are nowhere to be seen. And now Kevin Kouzmanoff singles off of Roy Oswalt’s right hip – OUCH. Men at first and third and one out. Hey, Roy, I know I predicted you would get hurt this year, but not in the first game.

Adrian Gonzalez, the Padres’ power bat is now up.

Oswalt’s throwing a lot of slow, breaking stuff – I wonder if his hip’s bothering him? You know, I wanted to watch the game in Hi-Def, but damn, Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies are already in fine mid-season form. These two are among the best in the business – they’re definitely better than anyone else in Houston (though Jason Shaver, the radio voice of the Aeros is good – yes, I’m kissing up. The Aeros are great people).

And Oswalt strikes out Gonzalez. Two down. Scott Hairston at bat. Who in the hell is Scott Hairston? Oswalt’s second strike out, that’s who. And the Astros escape. Zero to zero the score.

TOP SECOND: Oh, boy. It’s Ty Wigginton. The guys at the Chron keep telling me the Astros defense will be better this year than last. Have these guys ever watched Wigginton? He makes Mike Lamb look like a gold glover. And Wigginton strikes out.

Hey, did you know Mark Loretta had to evacuate his house during the fires in San Diego? And what do you know, mention a tragedy and the guy hits a solid single.

Bill Brown tells me Ausmus is starting so as to catch Roy Oswalt. What, does Oswalt think he’s Greg Maddux? Remember how Maddux had his own personal catcher for several years in Atlanta? I think the guy even took pisses for Maddux. And Ausmus pops up just past the pitcher’s mound. And Roy O. pops up to the first baseman. Still no score.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: The Ford Edge gets 24 mph. And they’re calling that fuel efficient. HAH. And what do you know, Jackie Chan’s got another bad movie coming out? At least Chris Tucker’s not in this one. Hey, it’s some Marine Corp propaganda. It’s funny how they never show the body bags. What, the Best Damn Sports Show is still on?

BOTTOM SECOND: Khalil Greene up at bat. I had this guy on my fantasy team for awhile last year. Hey, Khalil, YOU SUCK! And Oswalt just struck him out with a fastball up at eye level. Josh Bard batting now – hey, I wonder if this guy knows any Shakespeare jokes? (Is that a dagger I see before me. Come, let me touch thee…) There’s a shot down the left field line. Somebody get the sun dial so we can time Carlos Lee…

Nope, Lee’s not there yet.

Still not there.

And still not there.

I think they’re having an earthquake in San Diego.

Good thing Bard’s a catcher or that could’ve been an inside-the-park homer.

Left fielder Paul McAnulty pops the ball between short and left. HEY, MIGUEL, WATCH OUT FOR CARLOS! And a bloop base hit. Men at first and second. But at least Jake Peavy the pitcher is at bat. And it’s a shot, back, back, back, back, and Lee gets to it at the warning track for the out. Bard trots into score. Padres up 1-0.

Brian Giles flies out to Pence to end the inning.

TOP THIRD: Bourn pops to third. HUNTER! HUNTER! HUNTER! And he flies out deep down the right field line. And Berkman strikes out looking. Berkman looks to be in midseason form.

COMMERCIAL BREAK: Hey, Fox Sports Houston, no matter what you try, you’re not going to convince me this is a good team. But I’m glad Bob Ford is still your voice. He’s very, very good. And is it wrong that I actually like the Jack-In-The-Box commercials?

BOTTOM THIRD: Jim Deshaies is talking about Trevor Hoffman having a hang-over effect from his blowing two games for the Padres at the end of last season and costing the Padres a shot at the playoffs. Maybe Brad Lidge can give him some lessons for dealing with the trauma. And Iguchi flies out to short center.

Oh good, Brown and Deshaies have moved on to Brad Lidge and the start of last season. Now Brown says there are people who think Oswalt should win 25 games this year because of the Astros offense. Deshaies sets him straight. And Oswalt strikes out Kouzmanoff. That’s what I like about Deshaies. If this was the radio broadcast and Milo brought up Oswalt winning 25, the color analyst is going to be going, “Whatever you say Milo. Whatever you say.”

Adrian Gonzalez has a two out line drive single to center. Hairston back up to bat. I still don’t know this guy. Wasn’t Jim Edmonds supposed to be in center field for the Padres this season? What’s that you say, He’s injured? Well, seeing as it’s Edmonds, that kind of makes sense. And he strikes out – that’s five Ks for Oswalt so far.

TOP FOURTH: Lee grounds out to third. Run, Carlos, run. And he’s out by a good 30 feet. Here comes Tejada – did anyone inject him with some B-12? Tejada doubles down the right field line. Maybe he did get that shot. And that’s his first official hit as a Houston Astro. Wigginton pops up to short left. Deshaies is talking about Mark Loretta being money with runners in scoring position – that sounds like the kiss of death. And it is. Loretta strikes out swinging at a high fastball.

BOTTOM FOURTH: Hey, Wigginton makes a play. Wigginton makes a play. Wigginton makes a play. Sorry, it’s just hard to believe Wigginton didn’t make an error on a play at third. One out.

Kerry Wood blew the save for the Cubs today. How much longer till he ends up on the DL? And Eric Gagne blew the save for the Brewers (in the same game). Maybe he just needed a B-12 shot.

Josh Bard lines another shot down the third base line for his second hit of the game – you guys do know he’s the Padres answer to Brad Ausmus, don’t you? McAnulty singles to right. That’s his second hit of the game. This is the bottom of the order, people. Peavy singles to the gap in left field. Bard scores from second. Good thing Bourn was in center because I think Carlos Lee would still be running for the ball. 2-0 Padres. With eight hits. And still only one out. I hope Oswalt wasn’t taking advice from Woody Williams. Brian Giles grounds into a 1-4-6-3 double play.

Inning over. Good thing the Padres have Jake Peavy. Not only is he shutting down the so-called high-power Astros offense, but he’s knocked in both runs.

TOP FIFTH: Brad Ausmus grounds out to second. Different season. Same result. Oswalt grounds out to second. Sixty-nine pitches for Peavy so far. Forty-seven of them strikes. That’s a pitcher who’s dialed in. Bourn walks. HUNTER! HUNTER! HUNTER! HUNTER! My man Hunter Pence at the bat.

Oh my God, Bourn stole another base. This kind of game is foreign to me.

Pence strikes out. YOU SUCK, HUNTER!

Okay, where’s this high-powered offense that I’ve heard so much about? Huh?

BOTTOM FIFTH: Iguchi doubles down the left field line. That’s his second double of the game. At least Wigginton dove for that one. Oswalt just seems a little off to me tonight. I’m really wondering if his hip’s still bugging him from that shot in the bottom of the first.

Oh good, Deshaies is bored already. The games get really good when he’s bored because you never what kind of tangent he’s going to go off on. Somehow he’s found a way to move the topic to Wade Miller. Whatever happened to Wade Miller? Really, I’m serious, what happened to Wade? If anybody knows, drop me a line in the comment box.

Kouzmanoff grounds out to second, but Iguchi advances to third. One out. Gonzalez with a solid single up the middle to score Iguchi. 3-0 Padres. Deshaies is wondering why there’s nobody up in the bullpen. I know the answer to that one: because Roy Oswalt’s the best pitcher you got. If he’s getting beat up, there’s no way the gas cans in the bullpen can put out the fire. Hey, Tejada makes a play. Force out at second. Two out.

Seriously, about that bullpen: Dave Borkowski and Brian Moehler are back. This is a bullpen you only want to use if you’re desperate. I suggest letting Pence or Berkman pitch before going to this bullpen. Or bring up Lance Niekro from the minors because he’s supposedly learning how to thrown the knuckler like his dad Joe and his uncle Phil.

Greene pops up just over Wigginton’s head. That’s 11 hits for the Padres. Hey, guess what, Bard’s back up to bat. Oh God, Borkowski’s up in the pen. And I think Berkman just saw Borkowski get up because he makes a decent play at first to end the inning.

COMMERICAL BREAK: Hey, it’s Chuck Norris. Is this a Mike Huckabee commercial? Because I thought Huckabee dropped out of the race a couple of months ago.

TOP SIXTH: While I’ve got a moment, I want to thank the Chron for sending Jose de Jesus Ortiz out on special assignment. Brian McTaggart and Joseph Duarte are far superior to Ortiz on the baseball beat. They actually provide legitimate info in their work.

Berkman flies to left. The Astros have only three hits – which gets Bill Brown talking about how the Astros have revitalized their offense this year. Wow. Great play by Kouzmanoff at third to rob Carlos Lee. And Tejada flies out deep to center.

Still 3-0 Padres.

BOTTOM SIXTH: Roy Oswalt still on the mound. Borkowski still up in the pen, but strangely, there’s no one up in the Padres bullpen. And Oswalt strikes out McAnulty – that’s strikeout number six for Roy. Finally, Jake Peavy up to bat with the bases empty. You’ve got to be frakking kidding me. Oswalt just walked the pitcher. Sure, it’s Peavy. But damn, he just walked the pitcher.

And Oswalt’s out of the game. He went 5.1 innings, giving up three runs, on 11 hits, with a walk, and six strikeouts. His ERA is a Woody Williams-like 5.06.

Our staff ace looked like crap tonight. This is not promising. Not promising indeed.

Somebody please, why is Borkowski still on this team? We found a way to get rid of Lidge, and Trever Miller, but we couldn’t find a way to dump Borkowski? Borkowski walks Giles. Padres on first and second with one out. Iguchi bloops a single to shallow center to load the bases with one out – Iguchi has three hit in four at bats. Ausmus holds a conference on the mound. Trust me, Brad. It’s Borkowski, a conference ain’t going to help. Cecil Cooper’s got that Phil Garner look going on: you know, the what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this-pitching-staff look? Oh that’s comforting, Bill Brown just said that Brian Moehler’s up in the bullpen.

Kouzmanoff grounds the ball to Wigginton – that should be a double play and inning over. But did I mention that it was hit to Wigginton? After a few bobbles, Wigginton at least decides to throw home to get Peavy trying to score.

OH YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!! Michael Bourn with the grab near the wall in deepest centerfield to rob Adrian Gonzalez – that would have scored three runs if Bourn didn’t get that. Bourn had to run a long way, and he had to make an over-the-shoulder catch at that.

Inning over.

TOP SEVENTH: Wigginton flies out to deep center. Loretta walks – the third of the game for Peavy. Darin Erstad hitting for Brad Ausmus. Wow, he’s so scary the Padres have suddenly got men working in the bullpen. Erstad grounds out 4-3 as Loretta advances to second. Geoff Blum is now pinch-hitting. Hey, at least it’s not Orlando Palmeiro. But Blum does his best Palmeiro impersonation and flies out to center.

It’s still 3-0 as we head for the bottom of the seventh.

BOTTOM SEVENTH: Brian Moehler’s pitching now. Is this Cooper’s way of conceding the game? But at least the Padres are pulling Jake Peavy. And hey, J.R. Towles is now catching – I guess Moehler doesn’t warrant the personal catcher. Yes, I know, Ausmus was pulled for the pinch hitter, but I had to make the personal catcher remark. And that leads me to a managing question: Towles is supposed to be a really good hitter, so why in the hell do you waste Erstad in that slot? Why not just go ahead and bat Towles and save Erstad’s bat for later?

Wigginton nearly screws up another play at third. At least Berkman was able to dig out the throw for the first out. Green singles to left. Lee looked really lost trying to get to that ball. Bard bounces out to Berkman. (To be, or not to be, that is the question? Sorry, couldn’t resist quoting the Bard.) And after about twenty minutes, Moehler walks McAnulty. And now Cooper is having a conference with Moehler. Pinch-hitter Tony Clark singles up the middle to score Green. Somehow I don’t suspect that Cooper told Moehler to serve Clark a fat pitch.

Wesley Wright coming in for the Astros. This is his first ever major league game.

It’s only 4-0. That’s hard to believe. The Padres are dominating this game, yet the Astros are still in this. How? And there’s the ground out to Tejada. Brian Giles, congratulations, you were the first out of Mr. Wright’s major league career.

TOP EIGHTH: Heath Bell now pitching for the Padres. Peavy must have been tired from running the bases. Bourn grounds out to second. HUNTER. HUNTER. HUNTER. Pence flies out to center. YOU SUCK, HUNTER! Berkman walks. And Carlos Lee flies out to shallow left field. Still 4-0 Padres. Time is running out.

BOTTOM EIGHTH: Geoff Geary comes into to pitch for the Astros. We got him in the Brad Lidge trade. Man, I still can’t believe the Phillies were desperate enough to trade for Lidge. And he strikes out Iguchi. Kouzmanoff grounds out to Tejada. And Hairston goes down swinging. Wow, three up and three down. What a concept.

The Astros have one last chance.

TOP NINTH: Cla Meredith now pitching for the Padres. It looks like we won’t have the chance to see if Trevor Hoffman is still suffering from blowing those two saves at the end of last season. Miguel Tejada singles to center, and…he’s channeling Craig Biggio because he’s nailed at second trying to stretch it into a double. And Wigginton grounds out to short. Bill Brown just reminds me that the Astros have yet to get a runner to third base tonight. Loretta grounds out to Kouzmanoff at third.

ASTROS LOSE! ASTROS LOSE! ASTROS LOSE!

The final score is 4-0 Padres. The Padres outhit the Astros 14-4.

But don’t worry, there’s always tomorrow, when Brandon Backe faces Chris Young. And Wednesday, when Wandy Rodriguez goes up against Greg Maddux.

Did I mention that this is going to be a long season?

But don’t worry. I’m here to watch the Astros so you don’t have to. Just don’t expect this kind of treatment every game. – John Royal

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