When Brad Ausmus was announced as the starting catcher yesterday in Dodger Stadium, about fifteen people applauded, and they were all wearing Astros colors. He responded by stabbing us in the back.
2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. He hit the ball great; but still, it wouldn’t have been enough had it not been for two things: Alberto Arias‘s pair of embarrassing errors, and Hunter Pence failing to step up.
Arias mishandled a toss from first baseman Chris “I Don’t Belong Here” Coste, and later allowed the same runner to score when he couldn’t make up his mind where to throw the ball, and ended up deciding to just drop it on the ground.
But Hunter. Oh Hunter, my Hunter… when Guillermo Mota found himself facing Geoff Blum with Carlos Lee at second base after a steal, he responded with an intentional walk. Granted, Blum had hit a home run earlier, but they were determined to keep the force play, even if it meant dealing with first-time All-Star Pence.
And Pence responded, with a runner in scoring position, by flying out to right field. I don’t really believe in clutch, but that most certainly wasn’t.
(This caused great hilarity for the Astros fans in attendance when the audience later booed the Astros for intentionally walking Manny Ramirez to load the bases. We were all glancing around, and you could see the bemused thought in our eyes, “You walked Geoff Blum and that’s good baseball. We’re walking Manny Ramirez and it’s boo-worthy?”
Still, coming into Los Angeles and splitting the series is a big moral victory for the Astros, despite coming up empty on a game we had in hand, wasting a rare good start from Russ Ortiz. With Lance Berkman, Doug Brocail, and Chris Sampson due to rejoin the team soon, almost anything can happen this season.
What Happened Was…
(This section takes a lot longer to write now with Short Season and Rookie ball going on. Yeesh!)
Round Rock Express (AAA) – There’s something wrong with Bud Norris. I’m convinced of it. He took the win yesterday against the Oklahoma City Redhawks (TEX), 7-4, despite striking out just one hitter in 8.0 IP, walking one, allowing 10 hits, and 4 earned runs. He improved to 4-8 on the season with a 2.61 ERA. He got quite a bit of help from his friends, notably SS Tommy Manzella and DH/OF John Gall. Each was 4-for-5 with a stolen base, and each had a double. Manzella also had a home run, 2 RBI, and 3 Runs Scored.
Corpus Christi Hooks (AA) – The Hooks couldn’t overcome a 4-run second inning by the Frisco Roughriders (TEX), and fell 9-6. Starter Sergio Perez earned the loss, getting chased from the game after recording just three outs. Erick Abreu came on in relief and shut the door for 5.0 innings, giving the Hooks a chance to get back into the game, but they couldn’t overcome the early deficit. OF Andrew Locke was a rare highlight at 1-for-3 with a 2-run home run, also drawing a walk .
Lancaster Jethawks (A+) – Three huge innings of three or more runs are usually enough to bury you, and yesterday was no exception as the Jethawks fell to the Stockton Ports (OAK) 11-8. Stockton scored all of their runs in bunches with a 4-run 4th, a 3-run 6th, and a 4-run 7th. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, as DH/C Koby Clemens was 3-for-5 at the plate with a double and 3 RBI, and OF Jonathan Gaston belted yet another home run – his 23rd of the season. If not for his eighth error of the season, there’s little doubt he’d be making a push for Corpus Christi right now.
Lexington Legends (A) – Jordan Lyles ran out of gas; it’s really that easy. He pitched well through four innings, but got into trouble in the fifth, eventually allowing four runs that would prove insurmountable; the Legends lost to the Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI) 6-5. Offensively, Lexington was led by OF Eric Suttle – 2-for-4 – and OF Steve Brown – 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI.
Tri-City Valleycats (A-) – Dallas Keuchel has now pitched 12.0 innings this year, including the five he threw yesterday, and has yet to allow a single run. Mike Modica, who pitched three innings in relief, has only allowed one earned run in 12.2 innings this season. Yesterday, he allowed another one – this one unearned – on the strength of a throwing error by 3B Jhonny Medrano. It was the only run the Batavia Muckdogs (STL) would get, but it was enough, as the Tri-City offense sputtered. You can’t blame the pitchers, who combined to strike out 7 in 8 innings. OF Jacob Goebbert led the offense, if you can call it that, going 1-for-3 with a double.
Greeneville Astros (R) – The Astros had four errors, gave up 14 hits, walked 4 batters, and hit another one. So it’s hardly a surprise that they lost to the Kingsport Mets (NYM) 13-4 in a total team effort of mediocrity. There were two offensive highlights – 2B Jose Altuve was 2-for-5 with two doubles and already his 13th stolen base of the season; and OF Grant Hogue went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI.
So there you have it. Seven games in the Houston Astros system yesterday, and not a single win. That’s right, gang, a complete sweep. 0-7 as an organization. Yeesh.
Some of you have written to ask about my job search. About a month ago, I accepted a position as a junior agent at a talent agency. It doesn’t pay well, and it’s a little different from what I was doing before (though I’ve worked at an agency before, and do have some idea what I’m doing), but things are going pretty well. I enjoy the work, and the work enjoys me. So things are starting to turn around, which is nice.
For those of you who are unsure what a talent agent does, exactly, we basically spend all day looking at very beautiful people and helping to decide which of them is going to get paid for it, and how much.