August 16th, 2010
by lisagray

You know that Sundays are designated “kids days” at the Box, right? They have all this kid-friendly stuff in Union Station – face painting, fake wax hands, one of those enclosed inflated trampolines thingys, as well as some sort of free gift for kids, kids run the bases after the game, etc. It is smart marketing because bring kids cost you a zillion times more than going with adults – all the endless junk food and the souveniers, etcetcetc.

And the Astros ran this promotion this weekend of $9.00 field box tickets (along the first and 3rd base line, on the OF side of the bases – usually $39, but they took off $$$ based on how many runs the Astros scored on a game in the St. Louis series and they scored like a zillion – and the stros stopped at 9 bucks. Anyway, a certain person wanted me to take her kids to the game and gave me tickets for the 2 kids, husband and me and our kids. Worst part was that that person, in front my my kieds – gave me some money and said for me to buy the kids some food.

I swear I’m like Charlie Brown with Lucy and the football. I NEVER learn. I should decide to never ever ever ever ever take my kidz to a ballgame until they are at LEAST 10. Because the kids aren’t interested in the actual baseball game. Not sure how getting kids to want to go to the ballPARK has anything to do with them eventually becoming Astros FANS because they don’t pay the slightest attention to what is supposed to be the main event.

Ah well, free tickets are free tickets and sugared, wired, hyper kidz were the price.

So at least I had something to hold over them – they misbehave, no goodies after the 5th inning and they really misbehave, we leave and no junk food at ALL. Of course, this meant I got – is it the 5th inning YET??? about a zillion times…

And oh my GAWD did this ballgame DRAG because JA Happ is the Human Rain Delay on the mound. I haven’t seen any starter take so much time between every single pitch since Steve Trachsel. Thank GAWD Karstens worked fast and threw strikes. And the Astros swung early and swung often, too. Happ, as usual, gave up a LOT of walks – I was gonna write 6 or 7, but I looked it up first and turns out is was only 4. Happ faced a total of 24 batters and went to 3 ball counts on 10 of them. In fact he was so wild that the HP ump called 5 strikes as balls – and the original HP ump wouldn’t call any high inside pitches as strikes, even the ones in the zone, so after that Happ threw almost everything outside to almost every hitter – the strikes, I mean, as the balls went ANYwhere.

Karstens wasn’t unhittable, but somehow, he only gave up 4 singles and no really hard hit balls until the 6th, when Pence hit a hanging slider for a ground rule double just in front of the RF bullpen.

Happ, as usual, gave up more walks than hits, and all 3 were singles. I can never figure out how on earth guys like him succeed.

But it is now time to sing the praises of Hunter Pence, who did absolutely everything right today. He reached on error in the first – ran hard out of the box on a chopper hit to thied, which the 3B bobbled. In the 3rd, he singled, then stole second, then came around to score on a single up the middle by Clank. It wasn’t a hard hit single, but the middle IF and the CF haven’t really worked out who is gonna get what ball and no one went after that ball hard. Hunter took off at the crack of the bat and never stopped running and didn’t get a close throw.

He led off the 6th with a GR double to the RF bullpen, went to third when Clank flied out to right, then scored when Kepp hit a sac-fly to deep right. In the 7th, he hit an RBI double on what should have been a single up the middle to drive in Sanchez. And he made a GREAT running catch on a fly ball hit to the RF foul line and sinking fast.

If this is all due to Bagwell, all I can say is GO BAGGY!!!! And I wish he’d fix Michael Bourn, who wore the Sombrero with a flyout and a walk (late in the game).

CJ restarted a new hitting/on base streak with a single, an IF single and a solo homer into the Crawford Boxes (which, unfortunately, I missed, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

So the Astros took the lead 1-0 on an RBI single by Clank, but then Happ coughed it up in the top of the 4th when he gave up a single, then a walk, then an RBI single from Milledge and a saf-fly from Snyder. So with the way Happ was pitching, I felt sure that the Bucs were gonna tack on more runs, so I missed most of the 5th inning taking the kids for food and bathroom – and yes, I DID say ABSOLUTELY NO WAY to cotton candy, I’m not completely stupid.

I missed Keppinger’s incredibly diving stop and throw of a sure base hit for Garrett Jones to end the 5th, but I didn’t miss Bourn’s awesome running grab of Tabata’s flyout to right center. But then Happ walked Alvarez on 5 straight pitches (he fouled off the first ball) and then Walker on 4 straight pitches and Arnesberg came running out to the mound, as guys were just getting up to stretch in the bullpen. Peachy, I thought, but Milledge took a ball, then fouled off a borderline pitch, then got over a hanging slider, which he rolled straight to Kepp for a perfect 4-6-3, only Angel Sanchez made a very wide throw to Wallace and Milledge was safe. Only Alvarez started running for home just a leeeeetle too late and Wallace threw home and Castro tagged him. So Happ escaped by the skin of his teeth and mamaged to eke out 6 innings.

Karstens, who had thrown 70 pitches by the end of the 5th and was goin strong, came back out for the 6th and made his first bad pitch -  a hanging slider to Hotter Pence, who would have had a stand up triple if the ball hadn’t skipped over the fence. Then Clank came up, took a ball, fouled one off, then swung through one and the ump went down like he’d been shot – wasn’t sure what happened, whether he was hit by the backswing or by a foul tip, but the trainer immediately came running out, then the other trainer came running out and there was like a 15 min delay as the ump finally got up and left the field under his own power with what looked like a towel held to the side of his head or neck. Of course, another ump had to replace him at home plate, which meant a different strike zone.

Aaaaaaaaaaand, it had been quite a delay, and Karstens had tossed a few to Snyder, but when the game restarted, It was apparent that Karstens had lost his, uh, grip. He threw a cookie to Clank who was a split second late and he flied out to deep right.  Then he started Kepp with 3 balls, and he’d only had 1 3 ball count in the entire GAME, he threw a fat slider for a strike, which Kepp took, then got a called strike from the new ump on a pitch that had been a ball all night, then Kepp hit a FB up in the zone to deep right for a sac-fly.

I knew that the Pirates manager is oblivious to a rapidly tiring pitcher, or a pitcher who has lost his stuff, and sure enough, Karstens threw a ball to Wallace, then hit him with a curve, a pitch he’d thrown for strikes all night. NOW the manager starts to get someone up.  CJ hits an IF single to short, then Jason Castro hit his second single of the night (getting his BA to the Mendoza line!!!!!) to drive in Wallace.

So Russell pulls Karstens and sends in righty Sean Gallagher to face pinch hitter Pedro Feliz. I groaned. No, not true, I screamed out NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. So my Husband, who was getting, more than tired with 6 kids continuuously buggin for more junk food, said – make you a little bet – if Feliz reaches base – hit, walk or error, you agree we leave.

Hey, dead easy Win, right? Heck no, he hits a 2 RBI double to center and Husband smirks. Don’t look like that, he sez, Pirates ain’t coming back.

So I missed the debut of Mark Melancon, who threw strikes and got 2 staring Ks – one on 3 pitches, the other on 4, and a groundout. He threw to one batter in the 8th, hit him, then Byrdak came on and got a GIDP and a flyout.

Byrdak was left in to hit for himself – why not – and then he started the 9th with a single to left and a walk. Fulchino came in and got 3 straight outs – no grand slam.

So tonight, we face the Mets, who just lost 2 of 3 to the Phils. It’s Wandy vs Jonathan Niese, LHP (so I guess Wallace will get benched again in favor of Pedro Feliz or Clank) who faced the Astros once last year and threw 7 innings of 4 hit 1 run ball. This year, he has a 3.50 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He’s a pretty good pitcher, hasn’t had much run support and has only 7 wins. Let’s hope they are all tired out from last night’s game and the long plane ride.

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One Response to “Hunter Pence Hits, Runs, Fields Like An All-Star And Astros Sweep Pirates”

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