Thursday, August 18, 2005

Feast or famine (usually famine)

Our offense goes crazy in the first game of the series against the Cubs, scoring 12 runs, and then we score a combined 3 runs for Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt. Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano are good pitchers, but we must do better.

Richard Justice has simple advice for Phil Garner: Play Jason Lane every day. Rock on, brother.

Lance Berkman has some bewildering comments in the paper:

"I think it's pretty obvious we're going to go the way of our starting pitching...When you're facing a guy like Zambrano or Maddux, I mean our guy is going to have to throw either two runs or less...We really need our starting pitching to step up."

Um, Lance? SCREW YOU. The starting pitching has carried this team for months. Oswalt + Clemens + Pettitte have been dominant. You, on the other hand, blew out your knee, missed a month and a half, and haven't hit for much power this year: a career-low .478 SLG%, only 36 extra-base hits in 322 AB's, including a whopping .265 SLG% in August. How about you freakin' step up, Lance?

Phil Garner in today's paper:

"This is our calm before the storm. I see it now...We're building our steam. We're ready to boil."

I really wish Garner would occasionally speak literally instead of using metaphors. Who, exactly, is 'ready to boil'? Craig Biggio and Lance Berkman are slumping. Morgan Ensberg can't carry the offense by himself. Mike Lamb has been hitting like a backup catcher this year. Adam Everett is well below a .700 OPS. But wait...Garner can 'see it now'. Ooookay.

Roy Oswalt gives a sneak peek on how frustrating it can be to be an Astros starting pitcher this year:

"Right now if you give up two runs you feel like you're fighting uphill for the rest of the game. The rest of the game there's not a lot of margin for mistakes."

I was at the Pettitte-Maddux game two nights ago. It was a great atmosphere; almost a sellout, and fans for both teams were vocal. The most exciting moment of the game was Willy T's leadoff triple (man, he is FAST). Unfortunately that was it for the excitement. I still love going to the games, though. There's just something extra.

I watched "A Beautiful Mind" for the first time in 4 years last night. What a great movie. It boils down to the human mind's ability (its need, really) to find patterns in EVERYTHING, something I can identify with. We need to see trends, patterns, data, numbers. There's always a pattern, right? Well, sometimes there is, but often there isn't. But we certainly like there to be patterns. Recognizing chance or luck or randomness isn't nearly as satisfying. Sometimes, however, you have to force yourself to NOT look too closely at something. To accept the fact that there is no pattern. It's hard to do, believe me - I'm studying statistics! But I think most statisticians would agree that the human mind sees TOO MANY PATTERNS.

1 comment:

Andres said...

Jack, I thought we might tell more about the Pettitte-Maddux game Tuesday night.

Looking on the bright side here, I was impressed by two things: 1) Willy T's speed but more importantly, his desire to get on base any way he can, and 2) Morgan Ensberg's defense.

As Jack mentioned, Willy started off the bottom of the first inning with a triple into the right field corner. Triples really are one of the most exciting occurences in baseball. You see the hit, see the outfielder going for it, see the runner rouding first hard, see the outfielder fumbling for the ball, see the runner still running hard approaching second while looking back over his shoulder to see what he;s got, see the cut-off man going crazy, see the thir baseman getting set for the tag, and the final slide, SAFE! Okay. Anyway, Willy also laid down a perfect bunt in the third to get on base, and stole second easily.

But perhaps his most impressive at-bat was his third, in which he created an out: He took a few pitches (and maybe he should start taking a few more), and hit a dribbler down the firt base line toward Lee. Lee started charging, and Taveras took offf like a wild man. He was trying to outrun the ball. Lee fielded the ball quickly and lunged to his left with his glove outstretched. Taveras saw this coming and tried to dive headfirst around Lee. He reached the base on the slide, but was called out by the first base umpire. Taveras looked upset by the call, but he was probably tagged out. The point is, most guys would just consider their dribbler a failure and not even break stride toward first. Taveras sees a possibility in every ground ball he hits, and takes offf at breakneck speed every chance he gets. For me, despite what the numbers say, it's great to see such youthful enthusiasm at the top of our lineup. Willy T's gotta be the top candidate for ROTY.

Ensberg's defense also caught my eye. This is obvious when he nabbed the liner crushed by Neifi Perez in the top of the ninth. But he made another good play on Derrek Lee's sharp ground ball. He did, however, allow two singles on swinging bunts. The first, by Madddus, allowed a run to score. If he had positioned himself in a better spot, he would have made it easier for himself to make a play and saved his team a run in the ealry innings. I mean, when Maddux is at bat, why do you need to play deep in the hot corner? He's not gonna scorch one. Oh well.

Though Pettitte was not his best and never settled into his usual groove, he went seven against a very dangerous Cub lineup. And despite getting three hits against Maddux, we set ourselves up for some runs in the ninth. Same thing happened last night. Down 4-2, we got some runners on in the ninth inning, but couldn't score. Even if we're not scoring nearly enough runs, we're staying close. It's almost like what Jack says about playing poker: it's good to win a lot of small pots as long as you avoid losing big pots. So as long as we're staying close in as many games as possible, our team will win a good percentage of them. If we get blown out, which hasn't happened all that often lately, we'll be okay.

Brewers next. Three out of four.