Bogar?!? Gagne With a Spoon...

added 6/3/2001 by Steve Cutchen

Yeah, I know... It's GoneYea, not GagKnee. But in the end, the only people saying Gone! Yea! were the Dodger fans at Enron Sunday.

The Pregame; Batting Practice and a Little League Parade

My son Ryan and I again got to the game early

This time we went down to the field level to take pictures of the Dodgers during batting practice

Marquis Grissom was tossing warmups right in front of where we were standing.

Pitchers heading out to shag flys.

This was also Youth Baseball and Softball Team appreciation day. These little guys seemed to snake around the field forever! They had the video up on the big screen. It was VERY cool. All the teams with their banners... Big grins when they saw themselves on the Diamond Vision.

 

Made me proud to be associated with Little League. I am a volunteer umpire with NASA Area Little League, Texas District 14.

We were way out in section 334 again, as you can see from the Little League shot above. Yet we still rated a visit from Junction Jack. There is actually a Junction Julie and a Junction Jessie now, too. And with rabbits of the opposite sex, can a warren of the fuzzy mascots be far behind?

This photo may be bribe fodder for my son Ryan, who is the guy in the Astros jersey in the foreground. Since I couldn't get him to go hug Jack for a photo, this may not be worth much, though...

The Game

I have to say that I was worried when I saw Bottenfield would be the starting pitcher for Ryan's and my visit to Enron today. But Eric Gagne had about identical stats, so there is always hope.

The first surprise was the Dodger's lineup. They had Paul LaDuca playing first. I can only guess that they needed to get Chad Kreuter some playing time, and with LaDuca hitting like he is, this was a way to keep him in the lineup.

No surprises in the Astros lineup, which was a pleasant surprise in itself... our last game here saw Ward, Vizcaino and Hayes playing for Bagwell, Biggio and Castilla.

First Inning - Bottenfield digs a hole

In the first inning, my hope was dashed early. The Dodgers lineup had only four proven hitters; LaDuca led off and Grudzielanek, Green and Grissom hit 3-4-5. Other than that, the Dodgers are a weak hitting club. Sheffield would be a big addition, but even Karros is hitting poorly. So I was really bummed to see Bottenfield start off with a walk to LaDuca. Great. Now Goodwin can bunt, and we'll get the Big Three Killer G's with two chances to drive him in.

Except Goodwin didn't show bunt... OK! This guy is in a major slump... On 1-1, he DOES show bunt, but then takes a strike. And, with Bottenfield ahead 1-2, Goodwin wiffs... I wish. The guy hits a double! He's batting .212. His OPS is 586! What's up?

Now, with runners on second and third, the meat of the order comes up... Grudzielanek doubles and plates those two... and now HE'S in scoring position. Green and Grissom hit loud outs, and Beltre strikes out. But just like that we're down 2-0.

We go 1-2-3, with Lugo and Bagwell striking out on 72 MPH curve balls.

Second Inning - CastillaTime! We're not dead yeat!

OK, a rough first inning, but now Kent has the bottom three in the order. Two outs on three pitches and up comes Gagne. First pitch... BAM! Gagne homers? Next you'll tell me Bogar will homer in this game! ARGH! LaDuca again works the count, but grounds out to Lugo on a great play. Could be a Web Gem; he stabs, spins, fires and gets LaDuca by a half-step.

Berkman leads off the bottom and he goes 2-2 before getting hit by a fastball on the lead arm. Two outs later, he's on second, advancing on a fielder's choice from Hidalgo. Gagne is getting his curve over, but he's missing with the fastball. He throws two sliders and a change to Castilla and is ahead 1-2 when he throws him a fastball. It's gone. We're back in it, 3-2.

Third Inning - Castilla for the Grand Salami! Whoa Momma!

Grissom's leading off the third. OK. Easy out. But he singles. Geez, are we Grissom's slumpbusters? The Killer G's go down 1-2-3, though for a good inning for Bottenfield. And he'll get the grunts of the order in the fourth, so things are looking up.

Our big inning is the third. After Bottenfield grounds out to second, we get a Biggio single. Will Lugo be bunting? No. But Lugo works the count full and Biggio's running. Lugo singles and we're in business with runners on the corners.

Lugo then tries a steal and is picked off. In the ensuing rundown Biggio scores, but still this seems like dumn baserunning. A bane of the Astros this year. And to compound the pain, Bagwell doubles on a 3-1 pitch... Lugo would have scored from first.

Berkman gets hit again, this time in the hat! The crowd erupts, and plate umpire Nelson warns both benches. Alou singles on the first pitch he sees, and Bagwell scores from second! Berkman takes third on the throw home. We're up one!

Now Hidalgo is hit! Why is Gagne still in the game? Didn't Nelson warn both benches? Well, here we are. Bases loaded and two outs. It is up to Vinny Castilla to make Gagne pay.

And he DOES! He takes a 2-1 pitch over the wall next to the Astros bullpen for a Grand Salami! We're up 8-3! Bottenfield has been given a gift, and now all we need to do is hold on to it.

Fourth Inning - An opportunity wasted

Bottenfield does indeed pitch well to the bottom of the Dodger order, setting them down in order with two strikeouts. Leadoff trouble to start the game and a stoopid pitch to Gagne... but otherwise, Bottenfield is doing OK!

In the bottom of the fourth, Bottenfield again leads off with a grounder to second. Biggio comes up and crushes a liner that gets by the diving Green, and he stretches it into a triple! At least that's what you'll read in the official scorebook. Actually, he hit a double and was dead meat at third, but Beltre couldn't stay with the tag. I would have scored it a double and an error on Beltre.

But we're in business again! A runner on third and only one out!

But Lugo and Bagwell go on 4 pitches. A big opportunity wasted. One of many that will come to haunt.

Fifth Inning - Goodwin! You're a .212 hitter! Act like it!

Bottenfield comes out for the fifth and gives up another hit to a pitcher. Carrera gets a bunt single to lead off. LaDuca goes down again, but Goodwin... Goodwin. DAMN that Goodwin. He singles to get the lineup turned over to the Big Bats, and Grudzielanek and Green come through with singles. Carrera and Goodwin are plated, and it is 8-5.

In the bottom of the fifth, it is time for OUR power guys. Will Berkman get hit again? Well... no. Berkman, Alou and Hidalgo go 1-2-3. Alou shows almost Crawford Box power with a fly ball scraped off the wall by Grissom. But this lack of production in the meat of our order is getting to be a pain in the butt.

Sixth Inning - Cruz control

In the sixth Nelson Cruz comes in for Bottenfield. to face the bottom of the order. Kreuter singles, but again LaDuca ends the inning as the Dodgers go quietly.

Unfortunately, so do we. With the exception of Nelson Cruz's second at-bat of the year, in which he singles, nothing notable happened. Cruz is now hitting .500.

Seventh Inning - Cruz out of control... And more lost opportunities

Cruz opened the seventh inning for the Good Guys, pitching to Goodwin. And he singled again. An infield bunt single. He was now 4 for 4. A .212 hitter.

Cruz was getting behind everyone. He was 2-0 to Goodwin. He was 3-1 on Grudzielanek before he coaxed an out to Alou. And he got down 2-1 to Green when BAM, he hit a home run to bring the Dodgers to within one at 8-7. What had looked like a comfortable 8-3 lead had become a one run game in the seventh.

Dierker went to his bullpen and brought in Jay Powell. After Grissom flied out, Powell walked Beltre on four pitches. But pinch hitter Bocachica struck out to end the inning, the first out from the Dodger's nine hole all day.

Lugo led off the bottom of the seventh with a double, and with the heart of the Astro order coming up, we had to figure on at least one insurance run. But it was not to be. Even with two walks mixed in, the quintet of Bagwell, Berkman, Alou, Hidalgo and Castilla could not get Lugo in from second. Five batters, and he advances one base. We leave the bases loaded and no score.

This was a key point in the game. Like with the Biggio triple in the fourth, the inability to get a runner in from scoring position, this time with no outs, proved to be deadly.

Say what you want about our pitching, but the lack of key hits is killing us just as badly.

Eighth Inning - Jackson Frowne and Offensive deja vu

Jackson came in to pitch for the Astros in the eighth. I understand the concept. One run lead. Go to the Stock Scenario of Jackson in the eighth and Wagner in the ninth. But I think I would have stayed with Powell. He's been pitching well of late, he is the only guy that has pitched scoreless ball all day... why not just stay on the horse that's running fast? Oh well...

In the eighth, it was the Dodger's turn to mess up on the bases. Kreuter leads off against Jackson and singles. Hansen, the only pinch hitter for the Dodgers with decent stats, then doubles, putting runners at second and third with no outs... and a one run lead. And LaDuca is up.

Jackson coaxes a grounder to Bagwell, and he looks Kreuter back before tagging the base to get LaDuca. Then Kreuter takes off! Bagwell throws to Eusebio and Kreuter is out by a mile. Double play! Hansen ends up on third, but now there are two outs!

Yeah... Two outs and Goodwin is up. This guy was batting .212 and is 4 for 4, what are the chances? Damn good... he singles in Hansen for the tying run. At least he was kind enough to get caught stealing to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, we AGAIN waste a scoring opportunity. Olsen comes in to pitch to Eusebio, who has not scared anybody all day. A weak grounder to short and he's done. Dierker puts in Ward for Jackson, and the Dodgers counter with left-handed Jesse Orosco. The guy's been in only 2 games all year for L.A. one strikeout, one walk and two hits in one and a third innings... But he gets Ward to look silly, striking him out. Then the Dodgers counter with the right-handed Fetters to pitch to Biggio. By the stats, Fetters is hittable. And Biggio singles on the infield. We're still alive. I'm thinking pinch hit Merced for Lugo to get the lefty-righty thing. But no, Lugo bats. And he singles! Biggio goes to third and the go ahead run is 90 feet away! But Bagwell lines out hard to Green in right and we're done in the eighth

Ninth Inning - Wagner hurt

Wagner comes in in the ninth, even though the score is tied. He gets Grudzielanek on three pitches; Good Morning, Good Afternoon, GOOD NIGHT NOW!. But Green doubles. Then Wags takes himself out of the game. As I write this, I'm not sure what the problem is. But Dotel enters with Green on second. He makes quick work of the Dodgers, getting Grissom to ground out to him and getting Beltre on three pitches.

Bottom of the ninth and we're leading off with Berkman. Fetters has not fooled anyone. Biggio and Lugo had singled; Bagwell had hit a rocket to Green. And Berkman continues the theme, but Grudzielanek makes a diving stop on a hard hit ball and gets Berkman 4-3. After that, Alou and Hidalgo go quietly.

Tenth Inning - Dodgers! Stop picking Bogars!

We are into extra innings. Cora strikes out on 4 pitches. Kreuter hits the ball HARD, but Vinny makes a great play at third. Then, with two outs, the Dodgers pinch hit Tim Bogar.

Tim is listed as a first baseman for the Dodgers. He has seven at bats all year. No hits. One walk. Dotel starts him off with a strike, but then falls behind 2-1. Bogar turns around the next pitch and sends it over the Crawford Boxes for the go ahead home run. This is Bogar's first ever pinch hit home run. His first hit of any kind all year. LaDuca lines out to Alou, but the damage is done. The Dodgers take their first lead since the third inning, and they bring in their closer Shaw to pitch the bottom of the tenth.

Castilla leads off against Shaw by flying out to left on a 1-0 pitch. Now Dierker counters with his pinch hitters. Vizcaino comes up batting lefty for Eusebio and singles. Glen Barker goes in to run for him. And Barker gets the psyche on Shaw! A pick off move goes over LaDuca's head and Barker takes off! Maybe he can get to third? NO! A stoopid fan picks up the ball, and the umpires halt Barker at second. Would he have had third? I'm not sure. But he never got the chance.

Now it's Merced's turn. Merced gets behind 0-2, but hits a blooper up behind second base. Grudzielanek takes off for it and has it without too much trouble... AND FIRES TO CORA AT SECOND TO DOUBLE OFF BARKER!

What the Hell was Barker thinking? There was no force! He didn't have to go anywhere! If the ball is dropped, he's at second with Merced at first and Biggio up with 1 out! If it is NOT dropped, Biggio gets a shot to drive him in with two outs. Biggio is one of the only guys hitting well! He's 3-5 today!

But noooo... Barker dances off second on a pop fly behind the bag and gets doubled off.

Game over.

Final Thoughts

I'm getting really tired of writing At The Game pieces for games we lose.

What a great game this would have been to win. A five game winning streak. Vinny all over Baseball Tonight with his 6 RBI and Grand Slam. Sweep the Dodgers on the way out of town on a tough road trip. Win despite Bottenfield having a slow start and digging us into a hole...

But no.

Instead, the heart of our lineup fails in three different innings to plate runners from second or third.

It may look like this was a close game. But it was not. Vinny Castilla made it look that way because he single-handedly drove in six runs with two hits. But he got no help. Eight runs looks good, but the Kings have not Clothes.

This was a heartbreaker.

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