Houston Astros (MLB) – Somehow, the Astros won one of their most poorly-played game of the year. Looking ahead, I actually think we can steal 2, if not all 3, from the Dodgers. Assuming we still have a closer, which I’m not so sure about. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be checking the injury wire. I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s something broken inside of Jose Valverde. If this happens, I urge Cecil Cooper to ignore the impulse to make LaTroy Hawkins the closer. He has always struggled in this role. The best short-term answer, in my opinion, would be to call up Bud Norris to close, and then begin the process of moving Brandon Backe into the role.
[UPDATE: Turns out Valverde suffered a bruised right ankle when he was nailed by Orlando Hudson’s line drive, then pulled his right calf muscle trying to make the play on Hudson at first base. He’ll be unofficially day-to-day.]
Round Rock Express (AAA) – The Astros’ old Triple-A farm team, the New Orleans Zephyrs (FLA) waltzed into town to beat the Astros’ new Triple-A farm team, the Round Rock Express, 3-1. Not terribly surprising, Alberto Arias earned the loss, giving up five hits and three walks in just three innings, and allowing 2 runs. It was good enough to lower his ERA to 10.13, however. Brian Bogusevic was manning centerfield tonight, and went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot. Tommy Manzella‘s triple and John Gall’s double were the only XBH for the good guys. Mark Saccomanno returned to form with an error at third base, and J.R. Towles left the game after a single plate appearance; a walk. I don’t have an injury report, but I’ll be watching. Speaking of injuries, the Chris Johnson watch continues. It has now been two and a half weeks since he last appeared in a game and was hit on the hand by a pitch.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – The Hooks mounted a four-run rally in the top of the ninth inning, but still dropped the 9-7 decision to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KCR). Polin Trinidad fell to 1-2 with four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. However, he struck out 6 and walked none. He also hit a batter and gave up a run-scoring balk. Which, really, is remarkable. Astros Rule 5 pick-and-returnee, Gilbert De La Vara, allowed four runs – none earned – in just a third of an inning for the Naturals. OF Collin DeLome was 2-for-5 with a home run, only to be bested by OF Mitch Einertson, who was 3-for-4 with a home run of his own. Show-off. 2B Drew Meyer was 0-for-2, but managed 3 bases on balls.
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – While the big leaguers were busy holding on for their dear lives to preserve a victory against the Dodgers, their California League affiliates were busy destroying ours. The Inland Empire 66ers (LAD) beat the Jethawks 11-4, handing Lancaster their sixth-straight loss. There was plenty of ineptitude to go around the Jethawks’ pitching staff, but the big winners were starter Jeff Icenogle‘s 5 ER in 3.1 IP and Sergio Severino‘s 4 ER in 0.0 IP. All four batters he faced got hits and came around to score. I suppose if you need a silver lining, Jason Dominguez pitched 1.1 shutout innings in relief to lower his season ERA to 15.88. So that was good. Three Jethawks – CF Jack Shuck, DH Marco Cabral, and RF Nicholas Moresi – went 2-for-4; Moresi had a double and Cabral a home run. Koby Clemens had the night off, and Jason Castro was 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Lexington Legends (A) – Oh boy, this one got ugly. The Hickory Crawdads (TEX) did not exactly lay the welcome mat out when the Legends came into town. They began this four-game set with a 12-0 victory in which the Legends had as many errors (2) as hits. LF Brandon Barnes had one of the two hits, and was promptly picked off. Then he had a throwing error, which let’s face it, is fairly hard for an outfielder to do. The only good news, offensively, was OF Jay Austin, the Astros’ #10 prospect, who is slowly turning his season around. He went 1-for-3 and drew a walk. #6 prospect Jordan Lyles actually pitched decently in his loss, striking out 6 in his 4.1 IP, but allowed 9 hits, a walk, and 4 earned runs. He was outclassed by the Crawdads’ Wilfredo Boscan, who threw 7.0 shutout innings, striking out 8 Astros Tradebaits in the process. In the Good News column, though, Jack Tilgman threw two shutout innings in relief to lower his season ERA to 0.96 with 9.1 IP.
And Now For The Miscellany
It’s a sort of an odd thing to want, but I’ve decided that for my next birthday, I’d like to finally attend my very first Astros home game. Now, obviously I don’t even know if they’ll be playing at home yet, but I think it’s time I finally saw the Juice Box up close and personal, don’t you?
My birthday will fall on a Thursday, so I’m thinking I’d fly in on the Wednesday, catch the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday games (assuming they exist), and fly out on Sunday morning. So, then, I turn to my wonderful reader(s) with all the pertinent questions.
Where is the best place to stay? I’m not rich, but I’d like a nice experience – preferably either close to the park or with good public transportation there and back. Something in the $75-$150/night range. I’ve already heard about the Inn at the Ballpark and the Magnolia Hotel. Does anyone have any experiences with those?
Bearing in mind that this is almost an entire year away, I know not everything can be planned for, but what sorts of things in Houston are both “can’t-miss” and relatively accessible? I haven’t been there since I was ten years old (at least not for longer than a layover)… all I remember is the Astrodome, the Sam Houston Memorial, my dad letting me eat a one-pound bag of Skittles and call it dinner, watching “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” in an empty theatre and laughing my freaking ten-year-old face off, and wearing a cowboy hat to the company that had hired my dad as a consultant.
What I’m saying, basically, is that anything goes.
Wolf in Wolf’s Clothing
I find it odd that moments after the conclusion of an exciting, hold-your-breath game like tonight’s, the lead story on dodgers.com should be something titled “Wolf doesn’t hold grudge against Astros.” Why would he? Because we shelved a 3-year, $28.5m offer to him as we saw the economy tumble?
It’s just sort of a weird lead after the game. Had it appeared this morning, I wouldn’t have thought much of it. I wonder if, had the Dodgers won, he would have held a grudge against the Astros? And honestly, grudge or not, tomorrow’s matchup between him and Roy Oswalt is going to be a Pridge Game for him.
That’s it for today, gang. I’m letting you all off easy.