What Happened Was…

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.



  1. juliasrants

    I can’t help you on where to stay in Houston but I say GO FOR IT!!! I tried to get tickets to the Red Sox-Yankees series for my birthday this year – they are in Boston – but had no such luck. (Wasn’t selected for the chance to buy tickets to those games.) I can not think of a better way to spend a birthday but to be in the ballpark cheering on your favorite team. Good luck!


  2. stonebutch99

    I have stayed at Magnolia several times, including last weekend, and I really like this hotel. It’s a short distance from MMP, but if you don’t want to walk, they have a free shuttle. They served milk and cookies from 8-10 (I’m not sure if this is a daily thing) and then they have an evening reception that offers free beer and wine. I normally miss this because we are on our way to the game before 5pm, but I really like the lounge area. The free breakfast buffet is o.k., but don’t expect much. The pool is on the roof, which obviously has a nice view of the city. The rate was a total of $150 (including taxes, etc.) for Saturday night.


  3. renaudtn

    Last time I was in Houston, I stayed at the Lancaster hotel. It’s a charming little place in downtown, about 10 minutes walking from MMP. I believe the rates were around $130/night + tax. I’m sure you could find some kind of package (flight + hotel) for a better deal. I can’t tell you what are the ‘can’t miss’ activities there; I flew down for the games only.

  4. Cockroach

    That would probably be the only better birthday than Disneyland, so go for it!! Even if they’re not in town that weekend, I’d celebrate a week earlier or later if they were there then instead. I can’t help you with hotels because I’ve stayed with family whenever I went down to visit, but the Johnson Space Center should be an obvious “can’t miss,” if you have any interest in NASA at all. The Galleria is a huge mall, and Houston has a nice zoo, if either of those are your thing. Landry’s in Galveston has outstanding seafood, or Pappadeaux if you don’t want to go as far, and I’m not even a big seafood fan. I’ve always wanted to try Drexler’s BBQ (operated by Clyde Drexler’s mom), but I’ve never made it there, so I can’t personally vouch for it. I CAN vouch for Pappas BBQ, and it’s fantastic. And Whataburger!! Texans love Whataburger the way Californians love In & Out, or at least so I understand. 😉 Good luck!

  5. roundrock15

    Julia — Yeah, we don’t have the problems with buying tickets that Fenway and Wrigley have. Hell, I could probably march up to the MMP ticket windows twenty seconds before the first pitch and have no trouble. That’s actually something I’d like to see MLB take huge steps to crack down on, is the scalping. Wrigley and Fenway are ridiculous when it comes to trying to get tickets. I guess there’s always StubHub?

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys, and please keep ’em coming. The Magnolia sounds better and better every time I hear about it! Checking out the Lancaster right now, and so far I can say it’s beautiful.

    And yeah, I figure I can always do it a week early or late. MLB schedules aren’t announced until… erm… January, I think? But one thing’s for sure – I’m going to a game at the Juice Box in 2010. Whataburger, eh? Well, I love me some In-N-Out, so I’ll have to give it a shot.


  6. renaudtn

    True…in Houston you can walk to MMP and get you a ticket, no problem; unless they’re playing the Yankees or the Red Sox. We don’t have as big a fan base as the Cubs/Yankees/Red Sox. Last time I was down there for Biggio celebration, my wife and I just walked to the field and bought our tickets for $50 a piece (supposedly there were the only seats they had left). Well, let’s just say there were a lot of empty seats…guess I got ripped off.
    Hope you get to go RR15, it’s really a lot of fun, albeit expensive.

  7. roundrock15

    I’ve seen games in 24 major league parks, and with the exceptions of Wrigley and Fenway, I was able to find really good deals at all of them. I’m very optimistic. Maybe I can be there for a Tim Bogar-managed Astros win. 😉


  8. stonebutch99

    I get my tickets on stubhub. Sometimes Ebay but they can be ridiculous. I’m heading to Houston again in the morning. My wife has a conference to attend, and I’ll be visiting with some family and heading to the ballpark again on Friday night to see the game against the Brew Crew. This time we will be in section 122. No FiveSeven Grille this time. 😉


  9. stonebutch99

    I think it’s row 33, so it’s not close to the field, but I really dig the dugout boxes. FYI, I saw some tickets for tomorrow’s game on stubhub in the Diamond Club section on row 3 for $375 each. That’s a couple of rows up from the Bush’s. There ya go! 😉 Here’s the breakdown:

    $53X2 = $106 tickets
    $ 10 service fee
    $ 5 edelivery fee
    $121 Total


  10. hooksfan

    Collin DeLome has been on a terror with hitting the home runs. It’s great to see that Mitch Einertson has had some success behind the plate. His batting average after the home stand was .125. In one of his last plate appearances against the Naturals here at home you could sense his frustration. He wanted to hit his bat against the ground but he was able to stop (I commend him for that). Mitch Einertson is our family’s favorite player. I took a picture last year with Mitch and our younger son (that picture is on the slide show of my profile). I have a hard time explaining those outbursts to our youngest son.

    In regards to your birthday treat. My preference for flying is Southwest Airlines. I have never stayed at a hotel in Houston. We usually stay in the Brenham and Waller areas. Brenham is good for a Blue Bell Creamery Tour. The Waller/Hockley area is good for the Showboat Drive-In. If you would like to catch a game at Whataburger Field and see the Corpus Christi Hooks in action. Drop me an email. If the Astros will not be in town for your birthday try and catch one of their minor league affiliates.


  11. roundrock15

    I have considered staying long enough to do a game at MMP and then catching a game each at Corpus and Round Rock. I have a very good friend who’s a lawyer in Corpus Christi, so it’d give me a chance to see him, too. We usually only get to see one another on the rare occasion when he’s on the west coast for a conference.

    DeLome is one of my favorite prospects. I know sometimes it seems like I say that about everyone, but really… Saccomanno (if you can still call him a prospect), Towles, Johnson, Clemens, DeLome, Trinidad, Cespedes, Iorg, Bogusevic, Seaton, and Lyles are probably my favorites. Einertson is one of those guys that did great at Greeneville, but hasn’t done a whole lot since. It’s nice to see him swinging the bat now.


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