April 1st, 2011
by lisagray

Opening Day at noon and it was just me and Jana Brattain Dog and Dog Pappas to watch. Seemed strange to be watching Opening Day like this, but the good news was that we got to watch it on FSN with Brownie and Deshaies instead of The Other network’s crappy announcers who don’t know any Astros and don’t want to (heck, they didn’t want to during the WS neither, but I digress…)

The Guys came out swinging. And missing. Halladay looked unhittable for 2.2 innings, until the pitcher smacked him around. Well, hit a single up the middle, that is.

Let me take a minute to say that pitchers hitting is TEH AWESOMENESS and that the NL simply ROOOOOOLZ and the DH is to real baseball as softball is to real baseball!!!!!

Let’s talk about Astros hitters going down the Opening Day lineup:

Michael Bourn: hit the ball HARD every single AB – flew out twice to deep center/RF, lined out hard to first, tripled into the RF gap, scoring 2 runs, then he scored himself when Sanchez hit a sac-fly to shallow center – and yes, Ben Francisco, the new Phillies RF DOES have a good arm. And he drew the Astros first intentional walk of the year in the top of the 9th so that the pitcher could face Angel Sanchez. That’s da POWAH!!!! I should also mention that he didn’t swing and miss at any balls out of the strike zone. No spectacular catches and yes the final fly ball did go over his head, but it didn’t matter because it would have been the game winning sac-fly, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

Angel Sanchez: the starting shortstop as Clint “Power-Aid” Barmes is on the DL with a broken hand. He is a slow runner and a mediocre fielder at short. Anyway, he struck out staring in the first, singled up the middle in the 4th but was out at second when Hunter Pence hit into what would have been a sure thing DP, only it was a hit-n-run, so Sanchez was able to break it up. He singled in the 6th (yeah, he sure owns Da Doc, don’t he?) but was not able to score on Pences deep double off the wall in deep right center as Manzella or Bourgeois or Bourn would have. And yeah he scored after Clank popped up and Bill Hall grounded out to second, but still, it might have made some difference in how both Clank or Bill Hall approached their ABs.

Well, OK, that’s fantasy – I mean the putting pressure on the pitcher/defense stuff when you have 2 lousy hitters coming up. Anyway, he fielded lousy – dropped a ball that Doc Halliday hit to him and barely got the ball to first base with a PITCHER running and the ump gave the call to the SS because the pitcher was running. Life ain’t fair – Doc was safe and it wasn’t THAT close. Bob Davidson has a nasty habit of blowing calls at 1B – this time, it went in the Astros favor. And it mattered because the guy on 3rd would have scored on Victorino’s fly ball.

Good was his sac-fly to score Michael Bourn and bad was his weak groundout to leave 2 on in the top of the 9th.

Hunter Pence: Struck out swinging first AB when Da Doc looked unhittable – no criticism here because that stuff was FILTHY; groundout FC woulda been easy GIDP ball; smashed a double off Da Doc in the 6th that SHOULD have given him his first RBI if the runner on 1B had had any sort of speed; popped up in the 7th; handled the 3 fly balls that came his way just fine.

Carlos Lee: El Perezoso (the sloth) got on his Caballo today – couldn’t get to a ball hit to left, but he ran as fast as he could and he threw to second as hard as he could. I know he wasn’r physically capable of either getting to the ball or throwing a bullet, but he gave it 100% and that was a pleasant surprise. He did zero with the bat and stranded Pence in the 4th and 6th, had a popup and a weak grounder. I hate it when teams insist on batting washed up hitters in the 3 or 4th hole because of the size of their contract instead of the size of their bat. I hope CJ and Wallace really REALLY heat it up to push Clank further down in the order. Because fat Old Guys don’t usually get better after they have started to stink and their bat speed declines…

Bill Hall: yes, he is in the 5 hole because of his Home Run Powah, not that we’ve seen it. Also, the contract. And he’s gonna stay there unless CJ/Wallace/Towles really heat up. Lessee – 2 weak grounders (one scored a man from 3rd), a swinging K and a fly ball to left. Handled grounders cleanly, had a NICE catch with a difficult, wind-blown popup in at the foul line in RF.

Chris Johnson: 3 swinging Ks (but at least they weren’t pitches out of the strike zone) and a fly ball to left. Did fine with the glove – caught a screaming liner and handled 2 tough grounders very well.

Brett Wallace: couldn’t hit Halliday, just grounded out weakly, but he did single off the lefty reliever. He has always hit leftys better than rightys, strangely enough. Anyway, he scored a run. He flew out in the 9th. Handled the glove just fine, caught everything thrown near him, caught a screaming liner and juuuuuust missed a wind-blown foup popup.

Quintero: struck out in the 3rd (Halliday was still DEALING), reached on a 2 base error when the RF let the fly ball clank off his glove. He couldn’t score from second when the pitcher singled – single too shallow, and Q not a fast runner and Michael Bourn’s long fly ball was caught at the wall. He singled in the 7th and scored on Bourn’s triple, but then he grounded out in the 9th. He threw out Victorino trying to steal second to end the 6th inning, which was a good thing because his pitcher had suddenly lost control of the strike zone and had thrown yet another ball. He had a passed ball clank off his glove with men on first and second in the 7th – which allowed them to go to second and third – and this mattered because although Polanco would have gone from second to third on Howard’s fly ball to center, Rollins would have stayed at first; Polanco would most likely have scored on Ibanez’ goundout, but not Rollins. And letting those 2 runs score turned out to be a bad thing because if we had been leading 4-0, it wouldn’t have been a closer’s job and

But I’m gettng ahead.

The guys knocked out Halliday after 6 innings/103 pitches, even though the only guys who had hit him were the pitcher and Sanchez, both with 2 singles. After they scored 3 runs off relievers Romero and Herndon, Jason Bourgeois came in to play LF, and beat out a single to short in the 9th, then promptly stole second. I like having 2 Michael Bourns on a team. But unfortunately, he and Bourn were stranded by Sanchez, which turned out to be a big deal…

Wilton Lopez is indeed the setup man, gave up a single and got 3 groundball outs.

The reason that it is really too bad that we weren’t leading by more than 3 runs is because then Brandon Lyon wouldn’t have come in. Let me tell you his ST stats: 8 IP over 8 games: 11 hits, no walks, 1 K, 6 R/5 ER. Now I know Brandon is not a strikeout pitcher, but I would expect him to have been able to strike out even a few of the minor leaguers he faved.

This afternoon, he didn’t have anything good and his pitches were up in the zone. Yes he DID have 3 broken bat singles, but NONE of them were exactly tough pitches to hit and the first single and last 2 hits were good, clean hits – in fact, the game-winning hit (with bases loaded, 1 out) was a drive to deep center. And yes, the Dogss DID go hide under the kitchen table when I started yelling Very Bad Words at the TV, how did you know? And no, the kidz were not home from skool neither, you guessed that too, hunh?

Before someone asks me – why didn’t Mills pull Lyon when it was obvious to anyone with eyeballs that Lyon had nothing? Answer – because it is not a Brad Lidge 06/07 thing where the manager has permission to pull the closer, who earns more money than someone who might actually, you know, be able to pitch. So no one warms up. Remember the problems with Valverde at the beginning of 08? So for a good while, we are just going to have to live with Lyon until Mills gets permission from Fast Eddie to put in Lopez or someone else who can get outs.

Tomorrow, it’s the Wand-Man vs Cliff Lee. And no, I’m not gonna jinx us by talkin bout Cliff Lee, just saying that I hope Wandy’s shoulder is feeling fine and the curveball is deadly.

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