The Astros will be limping out of St. Louis after getting swept by the Cardinals in a three-game set to drop our overall record to 1-5, with the only win coming in extra innings against the Chicago Cubs.
The good news in this young season is that, despite their combined 0-3 record, Roy Oswalt and Wandy Rodriguez have pitched pretty well. They would have pitched better if Roy would ignore his innate need to challenge Albert Pujols.
Russ Ortiz also looked mostly good in his sole appearance, pitching in relief. We’ll see this week how he does as a starter.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Astros can be competitive without Rodriguez continuing to develop as a pitcher. He’s thirty years old now, and needs to be effective right now if the Astros have any chance at all this year.
Oddly, Geoff Blum (.353/.421/.412), Hunter Pence (.318/.348/.409), Jeff Keppinger (.571/.571/1.000), and Michael Bourn are currently pacing the hitters.
Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and Miguel Tejada have yet to heat up, but at least two of the three can be counted on, so I’m not overly worried.
Ivan Rodriguez looks completely lost at times. While he’s working deep into counts, he can’t finish the job. Like Tejada, he looks like he hasn’t quite come to terms with his loss of bat speed.
The best news of all is that we’re off to Pittsburgh to face the 3-3 Pirates. If we can’t get out of PNC Park with at least two of three games, we’re in serious trouble.
I was able to watch most of the Red Sox-Angels game on Channel 13 out here in Los Angeles, and I did see the bench-clearing brawl. A few things came immediately to mind. One: How in the world does Josh Beckett throw at a guy, then come that far off the mound towards the plate and not get ejected?
If Bobby Abreu had advanced even half that far towards the mound, he would have been sent to the showers. Beckett should have been tossed – no question about it.
Second, when was the last time Torii Hunter was ejected from the game? Seriously, this is a guy who commands the respect of teammates and opponents alike. From all indications, a true class act. I wonder if he’s ever been tossed before.
Third, during the altercation, I noticed a Red Sox jersey that said “BOGAR.” Naturally, I was curious, so I looked it up. Sure enough, it’s former Astros shortstop Tim Bogar. After a pretty good minor league managerial career – which saw him coach two MLB Futures games and get named the 2006 Best Manager Prospect in the Eastern League with the Akron Aeros (CLE), he’s now the Red Sox first base coach.
Astros fans will remember the Bogar/Ricky Gutierrez years at shortstop from 1997-2000 (come to think of it, Bobby Abreu was on that 1997 team, too), where it seemed neither could establish himself as Larry Dierker’s starter, so they continued to split time until the emergence of Julio Lugo as our everyday shortstop.
I’ve got one game left in me – Monday’s matchup with the Bucs – before my posting becomes sporadic. Tuesday, I’ll be in Lake Elsinore for the California League game between the Lake Elsinore Storm (SDP) and the High Desert Mavericks (SEA). The game is an All-You-Can-Eat affair, sponsored by Subtle Butt.
Subtle Butt is a charcoal liner with adhesive strips that you can affix to the inside of your underwear to negate the smell of “emissions” caused by things like All-You-Can-Eat days at a minor league baseball game.
I should have Internet access in my hotel, which will allow me to post an entry on the bizarre off-day between the first and second games of the Pirates series. Then, on Wednesday, I’ll be off to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday — and the Astros’ first series win of the season (fingers crossed). That begins a fifteen-game marathon without a day off, including ten straight at Minute Maid Park.
Finally, when the Round Rock Express pulled starter Jeff Fulchino from last night’s game against the Iowa Cubs after just two innings, it wasn’t due to a lack of effectiveness. Rather, it was because Fulchino is being called up to fill the roster spot vacated by Doug Brocail, who has been put on the DL with a right rotator cuff strain.
Brocail is the only Astros’ pitcher with a win, which he earned by throwing just two pitches against the Cubs. It’s been a long first week.