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AZ 5, Astros 8 - Chase Yield

Record: 5-7. Change on last season: -1

Just as in 2005, when we played five games better on the road than at Bank One Ballpark, it looks so far as if we're going to have more trouble at home than the average episode of Jerry Springer. We're 2-4 at Chase, now needing to sweep the Giants to reach my original prediction of 6-4 for the stand. Hell, even breaking even requires us to take three of the four remaining: how likely is that? Though at least we don't have to face Jason Schmidt.

That, however, is getting ahead of ourselves: much as we did this afternoon, taking a 2-1 lead into the sixth innings, before letting the Astros put up a seven-spot against Orlando Hernandez and Jason Grimsley. Much of the blame needs to be placed on the latter, actually: while the bases were loaded when he came in, there were two outs. But by the time the inning ended, all three inherited runners had scored, as well as a couple of his own, and this was, to all intents and purposes, over.

We did fight back a little from 8-2, getting the tying run to the on-deck circle with one out in the bottom of the ninth. But apart from presenting Brad Lidge with a save opportunity, it was largely a pointless exercise, as we lost our third series in a row, despite outhitting the Astros 11-10, and having the same number of extra-base hits. Perhaps the key difference is, their home run came with two men aboard, ours was a solo shot.

That belonged to Gonzalez, who knocked in the 319th of his career, but is still stuck fast on 499 doubles. Counsell, DaVanon, Estrada and Shawn Green all had two hits - much needed in the case of the last two, who boosted their season averages to .200 and .143 respectively. The bad news for Green is, he could repeat today's performance every day for the next week, and his average would still only be .271... We did steal our first bases of the year, in the shape of Counsell and Davanon.

Hernandez is now 0-for-3 in quality starts, but at least this time he came close - within one out, to be precise. He had the lead going into the sixth, but then got into trouble, putting men on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. He almost pulled it off, striking out Ausmus and Everett in six pitches, but fell behind Lamb 2-0, then intentionally walked him. Then it went a bit Pete Tong after that...a single to Taveras, then he hit Palmeiro with a pitch, and Grimsley (hereafter, we'll call him "Grisly" - childish, I know, but it helps ease the pain) took care of matters thereafter.

5.2 innings thrown, and 110 pitches for Hernandez. That's actually one of his more economical outings. So far this year, that's 15.1 innings, and 314 pitches - more than twenty per frame. How does this compare with the rest of the rotation? Funnily enough,

  1. Webb: 21 IP, 294 pitches: 14.0/inning, 2.14 ERA
  2. Batista: 12.2 IP, 200 pitches, 15.8, 2.84 ERA
  3. Ortiz: 10.1 IP, 167 pitches, 16.2, 6.10 ERa
  4. Vargas: 9.1 IP, 175 pitches: 18.8, 4.82 ERA
  5. Hernandez: 15.1 IP, 314 pitches: 20.5, 7.04 ERA

After Grisly, Cruz and Vizcaino were pretty damn good: three scoreless innings, 2 hits and two walks, with six strikeouts between them. Chuck in the eight for Hernandez, and there's no doubt we were missing a lot of bats. Unfortunately, there were also plenty of times when we didn't...

Heroes and Zeroes
Series 4, at home, vs. Houston

Webb: 8 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 1 ER
Easley: 3-for-7, OPS 1.375
Gonzalez: 1-for-10
Grisly: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER
Vargas: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 5 ER

Webb is the obvious choice for hero of this series, giving us our only win with another sterling pitching performance. I have a horrible feeling that this year could end up being like 2004, when we only felt comfortable with our starting pitching one day in five. Which says a lot about how far Webb has come: back then, he was one of the other four days. Easley, so far, has been a fine utility player, and if he keeps hitting, may find himself with more full-time work.

No shortage of zeroes. Among those who didn't quite make the cut: Tracy (2-for-12, 6 K's), Jackson (2-for-12, but a team-leading 3 RBI) and Hernandez. However, while Gonzalez did have a homer this afternoon, that was his only hit of the series, and his average is now down to the Mendoza line. Grisly managed not one, but two, poor relief performances, and Vargas was just dismal. Here's to better things in the Giants series.

Tomorrow - or, rather, later today, the report on week 2 of the AZ Snakepit Fantasy Baseball League, and a preview of the first game against the Giants...