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Astros-Dodgers: Extra Innings Not Enough

Joe Torre did something in the seventh inning last night that I’ve been wondering why more teams haven’t been doing for a very long time: He intentionally walked Lance Berkman to face Carlos Lee. I’ve never seen the need to pitch to Berkman when Lee’s essentially worthless. And yeah, Lee got the double to tie the game, although the Dodger left fielder should have been able to hold on to that ball for the inning’s final out, so I wouldn’t be so happy if I were Lee.

After all, if Lee hadn’t turned what should have been a Russ Martin single into a double in the third inning, then maybe the Dodgers wouldn’t have scored a run that inning. Then again, if Wandy Rodriguez doesn’t stink up the joint, Lee’s continued inability to play defense wouldn’t have mattered in the first place.

And can we please stop with the talk that Wandy Rodriguez is ready to step up to the next level? He’s shown absolutely no sign that he is capable of being a number one or a number two or a number three rotation pitcher. He’s a mediocre major league pitcher who’s been mediocre for going on for four years now, and unless he learns how to throw the spitter, he’s always going to be mediocre.

That said, even thought Hernandez put the Astros into a 5-1 hole, the ‘Stros still made it 6-6 in the seventh inning. And you couldn’t help but think the Astros were going to win the thing in the ninth inning when Lance Berkman came up to bat against Chan Ho(me Run) Park with Hunter Pence on first. Alas, the game was destined for extra innings.

Destined to go 11 innings actually, and it was there that former Astro Jeff Kent took a 3-2 Wesley Wright fastball and deposited it deep into the Crawford Boxes, The Astros went three up and three down in the bottom of the 11th, and the Dodgers had the 7-6 win to make the ‘Stros 0-1 in July and 40-44 for the season.

Shawn Chacon Runelvys Hernandez (0-1, 5.40) gets the start tonight against Hiroki Kuroda (3-6, 4.04).

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES:

Roy Oswalt suffered a hip abductor strain on Monday night, but was feeling better yesterday afternoon. While he’s not on the disabled list, he does expect his next start to be pushed back a day or two. Humberto Quintero, who was in hit in the head by a bat last night, suffered a mild concussion, though a later CT scan was negative. He will be going on the disabled list, and J.R. Towles will be coming up from Round Rock. And Mark Loretta appeared to be okay after his collision with Hunter Pence (I’m putting that on Loretta. He didn’t do a good job of waiving anybody off, and the replays showed Pence with his eyes focused on the ball and shouting that he had it.)

****************** The Obscure Reference of the Season Award definitely goes to my man Jimmy Deshaies. Wandy Rodriguez was getting beat up on pretty good, and Bill Brown suggested it was time for Uncle Charlie (the curveball) to make an appearance. Deshaies’s response was that Uncle Charley was out in the backyard with Chip and Ernie. That’s the first time I can ever recall J.D. going back to 1960s sitcoms for a reference.

Then there’s my J.D. Quote of the Night: “You can’t pitch to [Russell] Martin on Canada Day.” Not with the Quebec native going three-for-five with a 2-run homer, a double, a single, a walk, and three RBI.

And that’s why I like J.D. He keeps you on your toes.

********************* Lance Berkman is essentially calling out Alex Rodriguez for not participating in the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby. Berkman, who has accepted the invite, says he understands A-Rod’s reasons for not participating, but wants him to do it anyway. A-Rod has declined the invitation because he says that it messes up his swing. And I’m sure his teammate Bobby Abreu is all the evidence he needs of that. Besides, A-Rod figures that the Yankees season is more important than the Derby: “My responsibility is to the New York Yankees. I need my swing to be at its best.”

I know there are lots of people out there who don’t like Rodriguez, and I’ve never figured out why. He’s perhaps baseball’s greatest ever shortstop who willingly switched to third base upon going to the Yankees so that the highly overrated Derek Jeter could stay at that position. And I think Rodriguez is correct. It’s more important to help your team win than it is to win the Home Run Derby.

Of course, since the Astros are in no danger of coming to close to making the playoffs, Puma can go out and screw up his swing all he wants.

******************** And I’m getting off of the Astros so that I can present you with a case of delayed karma.

Some of you might remember that back during spring training, Phillies pitcher Brett Myers played a trick on his fellow starter, Kyle Kendrick. With cameras rolling, and the assist of his manager, the assistant general manager, his teammates, and the press, Myers convinced Kendrick that he had been traded to a Japanese baseball team for Kobayashi, the hot dog guy.

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Now here’s where the karma comes in. Myers, who has been stinking up the majors this season, was sent to the minor leagues yesterday. So who’s been punked now? Of course, I’d hate to be Myers’s wife right now.

And while the karma’s not quite instant, I’m using this as an excuse to play my favorite John Lennon solo song. May we all shine on.

-- John Royal

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