Wednesday, June 18, 2008

O's-Astros, Now With Minimal Gloating

I didn't watch the game, though I followed the updates online. While it was going on, I was talking (via the intertubes) to a friend of mine who has relatives in Houston, and a cousin who's an Astros fan, who was apparently talking to him also. This naturally led to a little bit of extra commentary on my part.

Garrett Olson started for the O's and had an excellent stretch, retiring 12 straight 'Stros from the first to the fifth innings. Unfortunately, it book-ended two not-so-good parts of the game. In the first, a lead-off single, two wild pitches, and an RBI groundout gave Houston an early lead. With two outs in the fifth (after the O's had gone ahead 3-1 on a two-run homer by Aubrey Huff (who is hitting a solid 266 / 332 / 466 on the year so far - the average is down, but the walks and homers are up just like a certain blogger predicted they would be) and an RBI single by Freddie Bynum to plate Ramon Hernandez, who looked bad behind the plate (again - from what I've heard) but did reach base three times) Olson lost it. Single-single-single-passed ball (thanks, Razor)-double-walk and the Astros are ahead 4-3 and Olson is out of the game. I'm disappointed by how it ended, but I think he actually pitched pretty well. Sometimes those kinds of innings happen.

At this point, my friend was saying that the Orioles were going to lose ("hey, they're a come-back team... it's not over yet"). Former 'Stro Matt Albers came into finish the inning. After the O's went down in order, Carlos Lee started the sixth with a solo home run to make it 5-3. "They're's over... have they lost yet?" - "This team won't give up... they've been come-back kids all year". It looked like it started to happen in the bottom of the frame, when Ramon walked and Adam Jones doubled with one out. Bynum struck out meekly though, and former Orioles Tim Byrdak got Brian Roberts to end the threat. Albers pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and ended up having a pretty good night.

"KAKES"-"KAKES?!" was the reaction to start the bottom of the seventh. Nick's opposite field home run (his 12th) cut the lead to 5-4. Markakis, by the way, is up to 287 / 384 / 483. I can't wait till he really starts heating up in July and August. A Huff double and an intentional walk to Luke Scott had the O's in position to jump back ahead, but Ramon struck out (check) swinging to end the inning. Jim Johnson took over in the eighth (Trembley is kinda using his pen as if he were ahead 5-4 instead of behind) and gave up a single and a walk, but K'ed two and kept Houston off the board. Running out of time, guys - time to score some runs.

Adam Jones led off with a single to left, and then was sacrificed to second by Bynum. (Trembley praised the bunt after the game - it wasn't a horrible move with his poor hitting and the top of the order coming up, but it would be nice to have a guy on the bench who can pinch-hit in that situation.) Roberts walked, and everything was set up for Nick to be the hero tonight (with all of the comebacks the team has had, they're best player doesn't seem to be the hero very often - maybe he needs to do some clutchness drills). Too bad the Astros know Markakis has some trouble with the high heat as they brought in closer Jose Valverde, who blew Nick away on four pitches. Melvin Mora likewise found himself down in the count, but he battled back and eventually hit one into deep left-center field. Jones scores... and here comes Roberts! ("I told you they would come back.") Another big hit for Mora puts the O's ahead 6-5. That's all they would get, and it was George "Tired Arm Just Two Days Ago" Sherrill in for the save. No problems today, as he set the Astros down 1-2-3. I "knew" the whole time that the Orioles would win this game. It's the same feeling I've had time and again this season, and it's much nicer than the "how did they lose this time?" from past years.

The O's win gets them back above .500 to 35-34. Houston falls to 33-38 (haha). Miguel Tejada went 0-3 with a walk and a K in his return to Baltimore. Luke Scott went 1-3 with a walk, and Albers did a fine job as the long-man in the game. Apparently, the Astros don't want to rebuild. All they need to do is look across the field to the other dugout (or to Oakland) to see that rebuilding != losing.

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