Astros-Rockies: Say Hello to Eny Cabreja

The Astros won a game this weekend. One game. But that one was a welcome sight, especially when the Rockies were poised for a sweep.

Colorado arrived at Hobby Airport at about 8:30 a.m. on Friday after having played 22 innings the night before in San Diego. They then battled the Gulf Freeway rush hour to get out to their Galleria-area hotel. So it would be understandable to think the Rockies would be a bit out it of come Friday night’s game at MMP.

But it was the Astros who appeared jet-lagged and exhausted, losing 11-5.

Friday’s starting pitcher, Chris Sampson, lasted two-thirds of an inning, surrendering six runs (all earned) on six hits, two walks and one strike out. None of the six Rockie hits were home runs, but two of them were doubles. The vaunted Astros offense awoke for a moment in their half of the first, scoring four runs on four hits (two of which were doubles). But while the Rockies would score three runs in the fourth off of Brian Moehler, and two more runs in the eighth off of Wesley Wright, the Astros went back to bed, eeking out a final run in the eighth inning.

The Rockies accomplished all of this without three of the key members of their offense as Rockies manager Clint Hurdle elected to sit left fielder Matt Holliday, first baseman Todd Helton and right fielder Brad Hawpe. Not that the Colorado offense suffered. Astros manager Cecil Cooper didn’t rest his stars, but Carlos Lee, Miguel Tejada, Kaz Matsui and Michael Bourn all went hitless.

The offense failed to show on Saturday night, as well, with the Astros losing 3-2. At one point, the Rockies retired 11 straight Astro batters, and they did retire 16 of the final 17, as the Astros were able to put only one base runner in scoring position after the third inning. Of the Astros five hits, three were weak infield singles, and the vaunted power trio of Tejada, Lee and Berkman were a combined 1 for 12. This made for the seventh time this season that the Astros were held to two runs or less – not a good showing for this so-called high-powered offensive machine.

The Astros won the game 6-4 on Sunday afternoon by scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth off of the Rockies bullpen. But the crowd could not breathe easy as this meant that Jose Valverde got to pitch the ninth inning. And while he surrendered no runs, he did let two men get on base, and he engaged in a mighty battle with Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins that resulted in numerous pitches being fouled off before Atkins finally popped out to Bourn. The battle with Atkins, while won, was worrisome because Atkins had launched a monster home run to left in the third inning for his second homer of the series.

The Astros record for the season is a wholly-unremarkable 7-12. There’s only one team in the National League with a worse record than the Astros, and that would be the awful Washington Nationals. The Padres are in town for two games starting Monday night, and Roy Oswalt gets the start – let’s hope he repeats his performance from Wednesday night.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS ASTRO NOTES:

Kaz Matsui made his first appearance of the season for the Astros on Friday night, and he started all three games this weekend – which means he’s due for another injury. Ty Wigginton, who was supposed to be returning from the DL Monday, will not. And Saturday night’s starter, Wandy Rodriguez, was placed on the DL with a strained groin. Pitcher Tom Brydak will join the team tomorrow, but there will be another roster move at some point this week as the Astros have announced that Round Rock’s Jack Cassel will be starting for the Astros in Cincinnati on Thursday.

This leads to our Astros trivia question of the week (and one which I’m ashamed to admit that I just found out about this weekend): Who is Eny Cabreja, and what does he have to do with the Astros?

******************** I’ve got two quotes for the quote of the weekend. The first is courtesy of Astros TV analyst Jim Deshaies, in response to the Afflac trivia question asking who the other manager, besides Clint Hurdle, was to manage the Rockies for six years.

Mr. Deshaies quickly answered that “Mick was Rocky’s manger for six years.” Which lead Bill Brown to clarify that the question meant the Colorado Rockies, not Rocky Balboa.

I seldom agree with Richard Justice anymore, on anything, but he seems to be the only other person who’s as pissed off about the whole Carlos Lee weight-thing as I am. After posting that Lee’s no-trade clause is waved after the 2010 season, Justice also notes that Lee is “also supposed to have a weight clause. It must be real generous.”

******************** Jim Deshaies is, in my opinion, one of the finest analysts working in baseball. This was evident on Saturday night after Rockies centerfielder Ryan Spilborghs dove to apparently rob Geoff Blum of an extra base hit. As he hit the turf, his back was twisted so that he was facing away from the infield and when he rolled over, he held aloft the ball in his non-glove hand. The umpire called Blum out, which prompted the Astros bullpen, which a great view of the play, to go ballistic, as did Blum and manager Cecil Cooper. What the replays showed was the ball coming dislodged from Spilborghs glove.

But instead of going ballistic, or going into total homer mode, Deshaies calmly and definitively explained why the umpire made the call he did, saying he has to call what he sees, and if he sees the ball in the glove, then it’s an out. He reminded everyone that umpires weren’t allowed to use replay, and he explained that while the umps huddled after the call, it would not be reversed because the only umpire in the right position to make the call was the one who made the call.

Yes, it was a bad call. But Deshaies explained why it was, basically, the only call. And for that, I say bravo.

******************** More news on the Miguel Tejada age saga will come out on Tuesday as ESPN airs its story on the topic. Hopefully someone will tell me what the interviewer meant when he asked if the Feds knew his real name. But the speculation out there is growing that the Oakland A’s, Tejada’s original team, did, indeed, know Tejada’s proper age, and that this is why they chose not to offer him a contract when he became a free agent.

And this, folks, leads us to the answer to today’s trivia quiz….

Eny Cabreja was a pitcher in the Astros minor league system who was from the Dominican Republic. When the Astros called him in 2003 to invite him to spring training, they discovered that Eny Cabreja didn’t exist. Now, Cabreja did make it to camp, only he came as Wandy Rodriguez, who confessed to using the fake name for reasons which have, as far as I know, never become public. – John Royal

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