ASTROS WIN, 10-1!! The first win of the year is always exciting, and we earned this one, with power hitting and awesome starting pitching.
Roger Clemens dominated. 7 IP, 1 H (a single by Ray Durham), 3 BB (1 intentional to Bonds), and 9 (!!)K's in an efficient 95 pitch performance. And he looked great, too, throwing an easy 94/95, with a nasty slider, and an absolute fearlessness to pitch inside. He's the greatest pitcher in the post-WWII era, and he showed why tonight.
Our Top 4 in the batting order (Biggio, Everett, Bagwell, Kent) went a combined 8-for-13 with 2 HR, 3 doubles, 3 walks , 8 RBI, and 7 runs scored. I like Biggio's new stance - without the high leg kick, it's a quieter stance, there's less going on, and allows him to make adjustments slightly easier. I think he should have a pretty solid year - maybe .270 / .375 / .425, for a solid 800 OPS.
Ricky Stone looked great, easily getting 3 straight batters in the 9th. A front 4 of Dotel / Lidge / Miceli / Stone is pretty darn effective, ESPECIALLY against righties.
Jason Lane got his first AB and flew out to the LF warning track. He didn't even hit it that well and almost took it out. He showed good patience, too, not chasing a few close pitches. He's ready.
Orlando Palmeiro had a great swing on a PH double. He's like Jose Vizcaino but a whole lot better, and his defense and throwing arm (Andy will remember seeing him make an INCREDIBLE catch in the ivy at Wrigley Field last year) are excellent. I think he's a pretty good addition, as long as Lane is the 1st PH option.
Brad Ausmus looked lost. He swung as hard as he could at a fastball down the middle...and hit a weak grounder to 3rd. He also routinely whiffs on fastballs right down the middle of the plate, really cannot pull the ball, and doesn't run well. There's a reason he put up a 594 OPS in 450 ABs last year - he's not any good.
Lance Berkman is struggling. His timing is definitely off, although he still has a great eye. He's 0-for-9 on the year with 3 walks, and I still don't think I've seen him get a ball out of the infield. Pick it up, Lance.
Eric Bruntlett got a PH AB with the bases loaded and 2 outs and managed a first-pitch weak pop to 2B. And it looked as bad as it sounds.
We go to Milwaukee on Friday, where the matchups are:
Wade Miller (who is unstoppable at Miller Park) vs. Wes Obermueller
Tim Redding vs. Ben Sheets
Roy Oswalt vs. Doug Davis.
Let's get those first place Brewers.