W- Rodrigo Lopez
L- Wandy Rodriguez
ORIOLES MVP- Brian Roberts
ASTROS MVP- Jason Lane
ORIOLES LVP- Eli Marrero
ASTROS LVP- Lance Berkman
What Wen't RIGHT- Jason Lane hit a solo homerun, number 10 on the season. Orlando Palmeiro hit 2 doubles.
What Wen't WRONG- Wandy gave up 4 earned and allowed a ton of baserunners. The lineup got dominated by Rodrigo Lopez, excluding Orlando Palmeiro and Jason Lane.
Ah, 3 or 4 days ago Roy Oswalt was furiously putting the finishing touches on a sweep of the tired and beaten Toronto Blue Jays. That game marked the 5th straight victory for the Astros. Three days later, three games later, the Baltimore Orioles have cancelled out the sweep over Toronto.
I was quite pessimistic about this game because of the fact that it was Wandy Rodriguez pitching against a hot Baltimore offense that is already very strong to begin with. But Wandy wasn't the reason the Astros lost. Wandy pitched better than Backe and Pettitte, believe it or not. Sure, there was a ton of traffic. Just 4 earned runs compared to Backe's 8 and Pettitte's 6, although Wandy did pitch less innings than Pettitte and more than Backe. NO, the problem that has once again possessed the team is the lack of offense, especially on the road. Middle of the pack pitchers are shutting down the offense like hall of famers. Jason Lane is the only exception lately. Maybe soon a new player will be the exception, but the point is, one or two exceptions to a poor lineup is nothing special. Isolated production is never a good strategy, hence the frquency of solo homeruns, as opposed to homeruns with men on base. Imagine how much more competitive we would be if these homers were coming with 2 or 3 men on base. That doubles and triples the production of a solo homerun.
Chris Burke finally got benched in tonight's game, as Orlando Palmeiro started in left field. Burke simply hasn't hit at all in the majors, so Garner has every right to sit him down. The arguement is that the team in no longer a contender and that the young players should be the team's priority. I don't really agree with that. I think you can split the time up or at least platoon becasue Burke is doing very little that could be considered positive. He is hitting .170 against righthanders and .170 against lefthanders, so the platoon option against either a lefty or a righty doesn't work because Burke offers no strength against them. You know things are going badly when a .161 career hitter goes into a slump. He is 3 for his last 31... Maybe Mike Lamb can come back and play left field a little. This whole situation reminds me a little bit of how Todd Self took away a slumping Jason Lane's starting job. Well Self started slumping and Lane filled in again and he started mashing the ball and playing great defense and now he is the hottest hitter on the club. Perhaps Mike Lamb can do something like that.
How about I take your mind off of this sweep and do a minor league update. I'll go over some names that might interest you and that you might see in the big leagues later this season.
Luke Scott- He is hitting just .229 with 8 homeruns. I hope Luke can get it together because he would be a perfect fit in left field, and in the 6 slot of the lineup.
Todd Self- He is hitting .376, that leads the club. You will probably see him again.
Carlos Rivera- You might remember him from spring training. The former Pirate is building on his solid spring... Here is a look at his line: (.316, .380, .476). First base is pretty stacked in the depth department, but we'll see what happens.
Royce Huffman- Speedy prospect is hitting just .192 at Round Rock. He is probably closer to a demotion than a promotion.
Mike Coolbaugh- Solid 3rd baseman already has roughly 2 years of major league experience. At the age of 33 he has no particular use to the team, who is going in the direction of playing younger players. His line isn't bad though: (.298, .373, .571). Mike is a classic AAAA player, too good for AAA, not good enough for the big leagues.
Brooks Conrad- Progressing well but is probably a year away.
And how about all the pitchers?
Jared Gothreaux- Leads the club by far in innings pitched, but that is about it. He is 3-7 with a 4.28 ERA. That ERA is good for sixth on the club.
Ezequiel Astacio- Believe it or not he has the best ERA on the club, at 3.35, despite his 1-3 record. He is finding his control and will probably be called up again.
Tom Martin- One of 2 lefthanders in the bullpen, he has a 4.09 ERA. He is the veteran candidate if John Franco is released.
Mike Gallo- The second lefthander out of the bullpen. You might remember Mike from last season, where he was the lefthanded specialist. He has alright numbers at Round Rock. Gallo has a slightly better ERA than Martin, at 3.98, to go along with a 4-1 record. Gallo has a WHIP around 1.25. In my opinion, if you release or demote Franco, Gallo is the man you call up. He has a much higher ceiling than Tom Mratin. Martin, at this point in his career, is similar to John Franco in that he is probably too old to improve or make much of an impact.
Taylor Buchholz- He came over in the Billy Wagner trade and has kind of slowed down since then. An injury ruined his 2004 campaign, but this season he is 5-0 and making progress again.
Travis Driskill- Former Oriole and Rockie is having a decent season. He has 42 strikeouts to go along with a 4.38 ERA and a 5-2 record. He seems to have good control as he has only walked 9 but he has a track record of failing at the major league level, so the club might be holding off on him.
Carlos Hernandez- He is struggling massively. It looks like this one got away... His 7.11 ERA might be a product of the speed of his pitches. He had surgery on his arm and now his fastball is around 85. That means he has to have good control and he doesn't, he has more walks than strikeouts. There are many candidates to be called up ahead of Carlos.
Jeremy Griffiths- He made a couple of starts in the majors last season. He is in the bullpen now with a 10.17 ERA. The explanation for Jeremy's struggles? Serious control issues... 24 walks to just 8 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched.
Brandon Duckworth- Please don't make me mention this name...
Brooks Kieschnick- This guy could be pretty valuable to a contender when he is playing at his best. He is one of very few players, and probably the only current player to have such an even split between pitching and hitting. He could honestly be used as either, at the major league level. The Milwaukee Brewers did that throughout 2003 and 2004 before eventually releasing him. The Astros originally optioned him to AA Corpus Christi but he played well enough to work his way up to Round Rock. This guy is the ultimate player for the bench.