Moehler Flirts with Complete Game, Wins At Least One Heart in the Process

You know, last season I wasn’t Brian Moehler’s biggest fan. And I wasn’t exactly happy about him being on this year’s roster, either. To me, he just pointed out how bad the Astros pitching staff was. But damn, was I wrong.

Thrown into the starting rotation back in May after Chris Sampson failed to handle his spot in the rotation, Moehler has surprised everyone and has become one of the Astros' more solid starting pitchers. The guy’s no longer an ace – I don’t think he was ever considered to be an ace – but he’s turned into a solid number three/four starter. So while it was no surprise that Moehler pitched the Astros to the 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds last night, it was still surprising that Moehler was nearly the first Astro pitcher to throw a complete game in over a year before being pulled after 8.2 innings with two Reds on base. Wesley Wright came on to get the final out and preserve the victory.

So I want to apologize to Moehler for all of the crap that I’ve given him in the past. Last night was really impressive, and with the win – his longest outing since June 17, 2005 – Moehler’s record moved to 6-4 with a 4.23 ERA.

And with the win over the Reds, the Astros improved their record to 50-56 to find themselves in fourth place, a game over the Reds and a half game up on the Pittsburgh Pirates. The series with the Reds ends tonight with Wandy Rodriguez (5-4, 4.45) going up against Reds All-Star Edinson Volquez (12-4, 2.77)

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

I should have known to never to believe anything Jose de Jesus Ortiz writes, especially when it comes to Miguel Tejada. Not only has it come out that the Boston Red Sox are in town looking at Doug Brocail, not Miguel Tejada, general manager Ed Wade went public yesterday and stated that the team is definitely not trading Tejada.

Damn. It looks like we’re stuck with the rapidly-aging Tejada for another season. Then again, since it’s known that Ed Wade lied about the Shawn Chacon incident, it’s possible that he’s lying here, as well. But I doubt it. For some reason, Astros management seems to think that a team with Tejada on it can win. In fact, it’s being reported that Wade still believes the Astros are in contention and he is desperately seeking another reliever.

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Was I the only other person in the city amazed by Carlos Lee actually scoring from first on Hunter Pence’s second-inning double? Yeah, I know the ball went to deep center. And I know it died once it hit the fence, but damn, Carlos Lee actually lumbered all of the way from first base to home plate on a double – without collapsing from exhaustion midway between third and home. Then again, Lee did let Bronson Arroyo’s double down the left field bounce around at the fence for an awful long time, putting things back at normal.

But speaking of the universe being out of whack…just how out of whack must the cosmos be for Miguel Tejada to have more home runs in July than Lance Berkman? And Tejada’s homer last night was his first since June 19 against the Orioles. With Tejada outhitting Berkman, then I think all talk of Berkman being the league MVP must be ended.

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The last complete game to be pitched by an Astros was by Wandy Rodriguez on July 6, 2007 against the New York Mets. Moehler has thrown ten complete games for his career, with his last coming during the 2000 season when he was a member of the Detroit Tigers. And Moehler’s catcher for that 2000 was in attendance for last night’s game, though this time Brad Ausmus was sitting on the bench instead of catching the pitches.

And speaking of pitching, this weekend’s series with the Mets should be somewhat interesting as I heard Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies mention that the Astros would be facing Johan Santana and Pedro Martinez. -- John Royal


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