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Astros-Braves: No Wild Card, But at Least Brandon Backe Gets the Record

The Houston Astros season officially ended on Friday night at just about the time Darin Erstad was hitting the first pitch of the ninth inning to win the game on his first walk-off home run since 2000. And the season ended at about this time because it was then that the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs was coming to an end. A game which the Brewers won 5-1, meaning that there was no way the Astros would be able to catch up with the Brewers and get the wild card.

The Astros mailed it on Saturday, with Brandon Backe surrendering eight runs in 1.1 innings as the Astros lost to the Braves 11-5. The only thing notable about Sunday’s game, besides the Astros winning 3-1, was that it was Brad Ausmus’ final game as the Astros catcher and that he homered in the game.

So the season ends. Finally. Though if you ask me, this season actually ended way back at the end of May / first of June when the Astros decided to lose nine of twelve games while going 10-16 for June.


Let’s hear it for Miguel Tejada. He set a National League record over the weekend when he grounded into a double play on Friday night. That double play was his 31st for the season, breaking the record set by Brad Ausmus in 2002 – Tejada finished with 32 for the season. So congratulations to Mr. Tejada.

It continues to amaze me, as it has all year, the amount of support and love this guy gets. Adam Everett was booed out of town because of his bad bat and penchant for double plays. And Brad Ausmus, who is perhaps the best catcher in Houston Astros history, is despised by a lot of so-called baseball fans. Yet Tejada has less range than Everett, and except for the month of April, he did virtually nothing to help the team with his bat. Cooper has continuously juggled the lineup for the purpose of trying to rejuvenate Tejada’s stick. There’s only so much that can be done with the bat of an aging steroid-abuser. Yet he’s loved. I don’t get it. I was never an Adam Everett fan, but I just don’t see how Tejada was that big of an upgrade.

Well, he was an upgrade in that, unlike Everett, Tejada did set a record. So he’s got that going for him.

**************** And let’s hear it for Brandon Backe. In what could be his last ever season with the Astros, Backe went out on a high note, lasting just 1.1 innings in his last start of the season on Saturday night. In that time, he surrendered eight runs. This was his second straight start in which he couldn’t make it through the second inning of the game.

But Backe went out on a high note, giving up two home runs in that short time on the mound. And those two homers allowed Backe to win the major league title for most home runs surrendered this season, 36. And Backe’s only the second Astros pitcher to finish his season with an ERA over 6.00 while pitching a minimum of 162 innings. The other pitcher? Why, Jose Lima of course.

**************** And in a puzzling move, the Astros announced on Friday that they were retaining all of their coaches. This is puzzling since Roy Oswalt tuned out pitching coach Dewey Robinson and went for advice to Lance Berkman and Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey when struggling earlier in the season. Hitting coach Sean Berry didn’t seem to do that great of a job either, as Michael Bourn, J.R. Towles, Miguel Tejada and Hunter Pence struggled throughout the season. He also didn’t seem to do that much when Lance Berkman went into a two month slump to end the season. -- John Royal

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