Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pensacola dreamin'

Heading off to Florida later this week to visit a Marine friend who is currently attending flight school at Pensacola. Should be fun.

I struggled this week to keep up with the Astros, due to my work schedule. However, they apparently were struggling a bit as well. Ensberg is hitting a dismal .194 in his last ten games, Andy Pettitte's ERA swelled back up to 5.25 after dropping briefly to 4.35 (I sure didn't see his early woes coming--what a surprise), and even Roy Wonder couldn't keep his streak going against the Reds, allowing 8 hits, 3 runs, and 3 BB in the 5-4 loss.

There were a few things I did notice this week--saw Ausmus get ejected in the bottom of the ninth against the Dodgers. I had just finally found a few moments to watch some of the game, so coming in cold, his ejection shocked the hell out of me. But the author of Astroday, having watched the entire game, had this perspective:

"Matters became worse for the Astros' cause in the bottom of the ninth when, batting against RP Takashi Saito, Brad Lidge was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for arguing balls and strikes. Whatever Ausmus said, he said it to the ground, as a good veteran will do, but Marquez heard whatever it was, as he was intended to, and tossed Houston's best catcher. It's unlikely Ausmus was fussing about pitches from Saito; they were ok. It's more likely Ausmus was quarreling about calls that Lidge did not get in the top of the inning; and it is possible that, even in the heat of the moment, Ausmus was trying to lay the groundwork for better calls by Marquez for Houston's pitchers in the tenth and beyond."

If that's even remotely true, Ausmus has my respect and admiration (well, actually, he has that already, plus like most of the female baseball-watching public, I think he's really hot. But that's another subject).

That very game marked the most visible evidence of the end of Preston Wilson's slump. I wasn't very excited when we first signed him, as I remembered his having struck out against our pitchers quite frequently while with the Nationals. But anybody who wants to play for the Astros as much as he apparently did gets a few points in my book. And he was valedictorian of his high school class, so he's no slouch in the brain department (notice the heading off of the "he must be dumb to want to play in Houston" comments). And he definitely endeared himself to me with four jacks in the first week. So, I was pulling for him to break out of the hitting doldrums. Apparently his teammates were as well, for when he hit a sac fly in the 14th for the winning RBI, they mobbed him at first base. (My thoughts were something only a sports fan could understand: "Awww, they're beating the shit out of him. Isn't that nice?") So after that response on Tuesday, I found it a little disconcerting that there was such an apparent lack of enthusiasm for Wilson's fifth home run of the year Friday night against the Reds. Granted, it wasn't a game winner, but nobody really met him at the dugout steps like they usually do, and while knuckle-touches and high-fives were bestowed, most of the players didn't even bother getting up off the bench. Then, while he spoke to Gary Gaetti afterwards, Gaetti didn't even make eye contact or smile during the conversation. Seemed very odd, although reports earlier in the week had indicated that Wilson had not really been keen on working with Gaetti during his slump. Hmm.

And how about that Taylor Buckholz? Got his second major league win today against the Reds, although he only went 6 1/3 innings (as opposed to 8 2/3 last time). I had text-messaged a friend: "Buckholz is pitching well but he looks tired in the face. Hope he can go awhile." My friend wrote me back: "But what is he, like 12? He probably just needs a nap."

But we love ya', Babyface!


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