Astros-Phillies: With Pitching Like This, It Might As Well Be Lima Time

While it was Miguel Tejada who

magically became 33 years old yesterday

, it was the Houston Astros who appeared to have aged suddenly, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies by a 10-2 score that was nowhere near as close as the final score indicated.

Brandon Backe got the start yesterday, and his performance was 180-degrees opposite of the one Roy Oswalt turned in Wednesday. Backe only made it through three-plus innings yesterday, but in those three-plus innings, he surrendered ten hits, six runs (five earned) and a two-run homer to Chase Utley.

But wait, I’m not done. It gets better. Oscar Villarreal pitched two innings in relief, and he held the Phillies to three hits. Of course, two of those hits were home runs – back-to-back homers in the sixth to Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. And our buddy Jose Valverde got to pitch, and in one inning, he gave up two hits – one of those hits being a two-run home run.

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The Astros runs came by way of the long ball, with the freshly-turned-33-year-old Tejada going deep in the fourth and Carlos Lee awaking from a slumber to go deep in the ninth.

This Astros team was built around the idea of the vaunted offense being able to overcome the deficiencies of the pitching staff. And, once again, it failed. Phillies ace Brett Myers, who hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire this season, tossed seven innings of five-hit ball, surrendering only the Tejada homer while striking out eight. I really doubt this is what Ed Wade had in mind when he assembled this team, but only Tejada seems to be performing as expected.

The 6-10, and last place, Astros return to Houston tonight where they will take on the Colorado Rockies in the first of a three-game weekend set. Chris Sampson, who was skipped in the rotation while in Philly, gets the start tonight. And may it be better than Backe’s start because the team sure can’t depend on the vaunted offense to get the job done.


Could someone please explain to me why the Astros decided to send Carlos Lee to home in the second inning on a single? He wasn’t on third base at the time. And the guy’s not a speedster on the base paths. So what were they thinking? Please. Someone, tell me.

******************** But for Eric Bruntlett, every Phillie in the starting lineup got a hit. The Phillies three-four-five hitters each had a home run. Utley, Howard and Burrell were 6 for 13 yesterday with six RBI.

******************** While the average person might think that lying to an employer is a bad thing, the Chron’s Jose de Jesus Ortiz seems to find Tejada’s lying about his age heroic. He should be admired for doing everything possible to get out of poverty-stricken conditions in which he and his family were living, and if lying about his age was the way to do it, so be it. And I’ve got no problem with him lying about his age as a way to get the Oakland A’s to sign him. But he’s been sitting on this lie for 14 years. And since he’s under investigation for perjury in the whole Rafael Palmeiro steroid situation, a history of lying isn’t exactly a plus.

But here’s something that bugs me. Apparently, all of his official papers have his correct age. Didn’t the Astros or Orioles or A’s ever think of asking to see his papers? We know the Astros didn’t do the proper vetting of Tejada in the first place or else they would have never traded for a guy about to get nailed by the Mitchell Report.

******************** Our quote of the day is courtesy of Astros broadcaster Brett Dolan after the Phillies took the lead: “Only time [the Astros] have trailed was the last inning Tuesday night.” In other words, the Astros led every inning Tuesday but for the one that mattered.

And the radio crew informed me that, as of the second inning yesterday, the Astros were hitting .226 with runners in scoring position.

******************** I might have the solution to the Astros pitching problem: Jose Lima was released by his Korean team the other day, so he’s available to return to Houston. And surely, a little Lima Time couldn’t be worse than what the Astros have been tossing out there so far this year.

******************** And in non-Astros baseball news, here are some interesting items:

Cal Ripken has denied the urban legend that Camden Yards suffered an emergency blackout, causing the cancellation of a game (and keeping the streak alive) because he had discovered that his wife was sleeping with Kevin Costner. This, in turn, reminds of the old tale that the Chicago Cubs traded Rafael Palmeiro because he was sleeping with the wife of Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg.

Ken Griffey, Jr., meanwhile, has moved another homer closer to the 600 mark, and he now has 596. I’m waiting for Jose Canseco’s next book because Canseco hasn’t destroyed Griffey’s reputation yet, and I’m sure Canseco doesn’t want to forget anybody.

Griffey’s Cincinnati Reds are going through some injury difficulties, and there are rumors that they are talking to catcher Mike Piazza about joining up to handle some catching duties. Which would show they’re really desperate because even when he was young and healthy Piazza was a lousy catcher.

And I just wanted to note that the Florida Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals are still surprising the country by sitting in first place of the NL East and NL Central. The Kansas City Royals are hanging tough in second place of the AL Central, and the Detroit Tigers have come to life and are trying to get back into the AL Central race. – John Royal

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