That Hunter Pence Sure Is Dreamy. Too Bad the Game Was a Nightmare.

Well, what can I say, the Astros lose again, this time by a score of 8-4. The Astros actually led in all three games against the Angels, only to have the bullpen blow the lead in two of them.

The bottom of the seventh inning was a thing of beauty last night. Well, beauty for those who are into extreme ugliness. The Angels scored six runs in that inning. But did so while managing only one base hit -- a massive three-run Vladimir Guerrero home run off of reliever Dave Borkowski.

The first Angels runner reached on an error. There was then a comedy of pitching from Wandy Rodriguez and Borkowski that resulted in the Astros 4-2 lead becoming a 4-4 tie by way of walking the bases loaded, then walking into two runs.

But the fun really started in the sixth inning when Wandy Rodriguez lost his cool and started arguing with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez over the strike zone. Now, I know I was only watching this game on the television, and that Jesus Ortiz was actually in attendance, but I think his whole poor-innocent-Wandy-did-nothing-wrong take on the story is wrong. A player is not allowed to show up an umpire, and as Jim Deshaies made clear on the broadcast, Rodriguez was making his displeasure known to the entire ballpark. Should Hernandez have gone towards the mound, no. But Ortiz's story makes it appear that Wandy was just minding his own business, doing his thing, when out of the blue Hernandez went toward the mound and started shouting at Wandy. And this just isn't what happened.

(On a side note, I thought this is why the Astros kept Brad Ausmus around. That he's supposed to be so great with the pitchers. It should've been Ausmus bitching to the umpire, but more importantly, Ausmus should've been trying to get Rodriguez calmed down. Instead, Rodriguez and Phil Garner were nearly ejected.)

(Another side note: Phil, you've been around long enough to know that when you step out of the dugout and onto the field, then cross the foul line and head to the mound, that you're going to be charged a visit to the mound, whether you intend to talk to the pitcher or not. And, as Deshaies stated, you actually crossed the foul line twice, so you really should've been charged for two visits to the mound which would've resulted in Wandy being pulled from the game. Learn your rule book, Phil.)

Some good news, my man-crush Hunter Pence continues to demolish all opposition in his path. He was thee for five last night, including another opposite field home run, his second in two nights. And of the Astros four runs, Pence was responsible for three of them.

A few miscellaneous notes: Chad Qualls has been suspended three games by MLB for firing the baseball into the stands after being removed from Monday night's game. He's now appealing the suspension, and is thus still eligible to pitch. Further, Craig Biggio returned to his road warrior form and went O for five last night. With a day game coming up in Arlington, expect him to miss at least one game against the Rangers.

Further, because I like to taunt him, it should be noted that the Astros are 9-10 for the month of June, a month in which beat writer Jesus Ortiz predicted the Astros would go 18-9. The Astros are now 31-41 for the season, and have fallen ten games behind the Milwaukee Brewers who appear to have gotten over a bad month of May and resumed with the hitting and the pitching and the winning. Oh, and the Astros are now alone in fifth place in the NL Central.

The Astros are off tonight, then start a three-game series in Arlington against the Texas Rangers on Friday night. Now, the Rangers have the worst record in baseball, so the Astros should be able to win this series and clinch the rights to that all-important Silver Boot. But then again, this is the Astros that I'm talking about, so don't be surprised if the team gets swept by the Rangers. And following the Rangers, the Astros are off to Milwaukee for a three-game series before returning for a home stand against the Rockies, Phillies, and Mets. – John Royal

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