Tough losses for two Houston teams last night, as the Astros wasted a great pitching performance by Wade Miller in losing to the Rockies 4-1, and the Rockets let a 4 point lead slip away in OT against the Lakers.
The Astros just couldn't get much going against Joe Kennedy, a control lefty who was less than impressive as the Devil Rays' #1 starter last year. So of course he comes to Colorado and starts...dominating?? I don't think so. We just didn't have it yesterday, and there was a HUGE strike zone in effect (for both pitchers, to be fair.) Morgan Ensberg hit the ball hard 3 times; he missed a HR to right field by about 10 feet, then lined out sharply to RF with 2 runners on, then lined out to LF. He's coming around. Miller looked pretty darn good, throwing an easy 93-94 on the corners with an occasional NASTY curveball that breaks really, really hard. The only runs he gave up came on some cheap end-of-the-bat singles by Castilla and Burnitz and a solo HR by Mark Sweeney. Then Brad Lidge came on, gave up 2 runs, but Brandon Backe pitched well to not allow any more, but our offense just couldn't do anything today.
Ken Rosenthal's latest article mentions the Astros in several places. First:
"Astros 1B Jeff Bagwell can barely throw because of the condition of his right shoulder, leaving him vulnerable to bunts and to baserunners who invite pickoff throws and then take off for second, forcing Bagwell to handle the ball. Astros 2B Jeff Kent, meanwhile, is "worse than I've ever seen him defensively, no question," according to one scout. "He's never been great, but his reactions, his range . . . he's very unsure of himself."
I'm going to have to agree with both of these points. Bagwell really can't throw at all, and it's eventually going to cost us runs. Kent has never been good defensively, but he has looked truly scared out there a few times this year, like he doesn't know what he's doing. He's gotta get going, both offensively and defensively.
"The Astros can't count on help from Class AAA LHP Carlos Hernandez, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. "He's a shell of what he once was, throwing 82-86 mph," a scout says. "He's not ready at all." The same scout raves about Class AAA Taylor Buchholz, whom the Astros acquired in the Billy Wagner trade. "He could definitely contribute this year if somebody went down," the scout says. "He's like a big-league guy in waiting."
From everything I've heard about Hernandez, this is true. His velocity IS way down. And I don't know exactly how you re-learn an extra 5-10 mph on your fastball. He may not ever be the same pitcher he was. I'm glad this guy likes Bucholz, but some other guys (Chad Qualls, DJ Houlton, Ezequiel Astacio) have put up even better numbers in the minors so far this year. On the flip side, we have very few good position prospects. Todd Self, a 1B at AA Round Rock, has been going crazy, hitting 381/512/571 with 18 walks and 8 extra base hits in 63 AB. John Buck, C, has been solid offensively (321/379/453 in a pitcher's park) but has made 6 errors in 16 games, and Chris Burke, 2B, is cut from the Adam Everett mold - good defense, no power whatsoever. I'm all for youth, but an offense of
is asking for trouble next year. I really think we've gotta go for it all this year.
Oh, and the Red Sox SWEPT the Yankees at home. I love it.