Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Roy O and the Astros beat Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins 1-0 on — get this — a wild pitch. That's it. No home runs, no RBI... a wild pitch. Interesting start to the season, but a win's a win, and we'll sure as heck take it.

I didn't get to watch the first 5 innings because I was working and my mlb.tv account had it blocked out. Apparently I missed a long celebration of the NL pennant, and a particularly sentimental cheering of the great Jeff Bagwell.

The game itself was great. I love watching pitchers' duels like this... every at-bat becomes so meaningful, so gut-wrenching. Roy and Dontrelle each brought their A-games. Like I said, I didn't catch the first half of the ballgame (I was following on ESPN's GameCast). But I did notice a few positive things from the offensive side in the later innings. First, both Everett and Taveras looked relaxed and patient at the plate. I hope Gary Gaetti worked with them a lot over the winter to improve their plate discpline. How many times did they swing at pitches in the dirt last year? Everett, I think, has worked on his stance. He seems to be keeping his weight back more, and his left leg is little straighter. His stance is wider and a little bit more open, too, which makes me think he's trying for more power... It appears as if he's trying to emulate Ensberg's stance, although not nearly to the degree Mo takes it.

I wouldn't worry about our one run tonight. WIllis was the Cy Young runner-up last year, and, despite his terrible team, he is a very good pitcher, especially in the first half. Berkman and Ensberg each took a pair of walks, so that's a plus. Biggio notched his 605th career double, a liner down the left-field line with two outs that eventually led to our only run of the ballgame. Wilson through Everett didn't do squat, going 0-for-14. Jack and I have deicded that Lane and Wilson are actualy identical twins that were separated at birth. They're so similar: high K's, low BB's, but can hit the ball to Beaumont. I just hope they decide to stagger their slumps. They both will get into funks at some point during the season, and if they do it at the same time, that's four bad hitters in a row.

Oh, and Lidge allowed a leadoff walk (he rubbed his right hand a couple times, as if he couldn't get a grip on the ball), but struck out Miggy Cabrera with a slider in the dirt and got Mike Jacobs to roll into the DP. Go Lidge.

Hate to say it, but this was pretty much an extension of spring training. This Marlins team couldn't win a minor league championship. (As a side note, how much FUN would it be to play for the Marlins right now? No expectations, no pressure. Of course, with Girardi around, there's no facial hair, but this pack of 20-year-olds is going to have a blast this year, 60 wins or not.) But seriously, we caught a break opening with the Marlins. Pettitte and Backe should take advantage. And the Nationals' lineup this weekend won't be a whole lot better.

Speaking of which, I hope the Astros can take advantage of their fairly weak schedule to start the year. After the Nats, we head out West to face the Giants and D-backs (we miss Brandon Webb), then we return home for the Brewers, Pirates and Dodgers. We finish April in Berkman's favorite ballpark, Cincinnati. The Giants, D-Backs and Brewers could all contend this year, but right now the Astros are better than all of them.

Let's go, Pettitte!

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