Saying that he had an excuse to go 0 for 4, Lance Berkman started last night’s game for the Astros even though he only had partial movement of his neck. Luckily, he didn’t need to use that excuse because he did have one hit last night, a home run in the seventh inning to put the Astros up 1-0. And Carlos Lee followed Berkman by depositing a home run to deep left field to put the Astros up 2-0.
The pitching of Wandy Rodriguez was actually good enough that it looked like those two runs would be enough, and when J.R. Towles homered to the Crawford Boxes in the eighth, it definitely looked like the Astros had sealed the victory (and J.R., thanks for that homer, it really helped out my fantasy team).
But then Jose Valverde, the Astros new closer, came trotting in to start the ninth inning. Well, I think it was Valverde, because after getting the first two batters out – including a fly out by Albert Pujols that landed in Carlos Lee’s glove at the wall – the Cardinals found a way to tie the game, bringing to mind the outstanding performances of one Brad Lidge when facing the same team.
Luckily for all involved, however, Carlos Lee found a way to get on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Miguel Tejada, fresh off a B-12 injection, homered to win the game 5-3.
And it’s a good thing the Astros won the game because, according to my buddy Jose de Jesus Ortiz, the Astros threw a real classy Opening Day celebration – which was a contrast to all of the other 29 teams who stage cheap, tacky, and tawdry Opening Day celebrations.
Now I hate to play the Grinch here, but though the Astros won the game, I have to point out that the vaunted Astros offense was, for the most part, once again shut down, this time by a patched together pitching staff consisting of discarded rejects from other teams. Which means it was a good thing Wandy Rodriguez was pitching this game at MMP, because he’s very good at MMP, and he’s very bad everywhere else.
There are two games remaining in this series with the Cardinals, which give Albert Pujols several more chances to go deep. Shawn Chacon gets the start tonight, and Chris Sampson goes on Wednesday. Let’s hope the vaunted offensive machine decides to wake up and play a complete game sometime soon.
SOME MISCELLANEOUS BASEBALL NOTES:
Jose de Jesus Ortiz told us in his internet chat yesterday that Miguel Tejada plays baseball the way it’s meant to be played. I didn’t know playing baseball the way it’s meant to be played meant pouting, showing up late and not giving a full effort. I also want to know where “B-12” shots fit into playing the game the right way.
And tell me Jesus, does playing the game the right way mean calling out your manager for stupid managing? It’s not that I disagree with what Tejada said about continuously pitching to Derrek Lee over the weekend when he was killing the ‘Stros, but shouldn’t this be addressed privately first?
******************** Speaking of Brad Lidge, he came into close Monday’s game for the Phillies with the Phils up 5-2 on the Cincinnati Reds. Lidge easily got the first two outs, then he walked Paul Bako, gave up a bloop to Corey Patterson which was turned into a two base error. Lidge then intentionally walked Ken Griffey, Jr. to load the bases – still with two outs. Then Lidge uncorked a wild pitch to score Bako to make the score 5-3. Patterson and Griffey moved each moved up a base. Then Lidge uncorked another wild pitch, but the runners didn’t advance. Lidge was then able to get a 3-2 count on pinch hitter Javier Valentin before Valentin got caught looking for strike three.
Yep, looks like Brad’s in mid-season form – missing only the monster home run to lose the game. Though, unlike Astros closer Jose Valverde, Lidge did manage to preserve the lead.
******************** Our quote of the day is courtesy of Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen (also a former Astros relief pitcher): “That ball hit a foot from his foot.” He was talking about a Ryan Howard foul tip.
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******************** The stupid injuries of the day – non-Houston edition – comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Giants. Relief pitcher Keiichi Yobu is suffering from blurred vision and corneal abrasions after hitting himself in the face with a rubber tube hanging in his locker, and which he was using for arm exercises. And not to be outdone, Giants outfield Randy Winn bruised his ankle when he his foot with his bat on his backswing.
******************** I think I’ve discovered the reason why the Astros hitters looked so bad against the Padres’ Jake Peavy last week. He was cheating. Of course, that doesn’t explain why the Astros looked like crap against the other six pitchers they faced last week.
******************** Milwaukee Brewers ace Ben Sheets has started two games, including a complete game on Sunday. He’s yet to give up a run in 15.2 innings pitched while giving up only seven hits and two walks. And Sunday’s complete game shut out was Sheet’s first shut out since the 2001 season.
******************** The a-hole of the day is Drayton McLane and that guy he was with who stood up from their seats in the bottom of the first inning and prevented the fans sitting in the rows behind them from seeing a first-inning Michael Bourn base hit. Watching the replay, you could see a couple of guys straining to see around them. Only major a-holes stand in their seats during a game and don’t make an effort to get out of the way. – John Royal