added 6/25/2001 by Darrell Pittman
Today's 7-5 victory by the Houston Astros over the Cincinnati Reds provides a set-piece validation of a point that Holly Sommer has been making over and over recently, and quite correctly so: situational hitting combined with adequate starting pitching and a good bullpen wins ballgames.
Pitching keeps you close enough to strike. Clutch hitting allows you to win.
Tim Redding, newly called up from Class AAA New Orleans, made his 2001 debut with the Astros. While he did not have his best stuff, he pitched well enough to keep the Astros within striking distance. When he left the ballgame in the sixth, the score was tied 5-5. He had just allowed his second homer of the afternoon, this one to catcher Kelly Stinnett, that tied the score.
In fact, considering that Redding is a rookie, his outing was quite impressive. He didn't display the poise and command that fellow-rookie Roy Oswalt has, but I think this young man will go far, with further development.
Fortunately for the Astros, the bullpen had been well rested, thanks to Shane Reynolds' complete-game victory the previous night.
After pinch-hitter Craig Biggio grounded out to lead off the eighth (more about that later), Julio Lugo doubled, Jose Vizcaino singled, Lance Berkman was intentionally walked, and Moises Alou singled. The result was two runs produced by clutch, situational hitting.
Biggio ties club appearance record
Craig Biggio had been given the day off, but he came up to pinch-hit in the eighth. While he did ground out to third, the occasion was special because it was Biggio's 1,870th major league appearance, tying first base coach Jose Cruz' club record.
Today was photo day at Enron Field. Fans were allowed go down to the playing field (warning tracks only) while Astros players and coaches made their way around, making themselves available for photos and to chit-chat with the fans. The only restrictions were no autographs, and don't step on the grass :-)
All those in the Astros organization were very nice, and very patient, while I tried to learn how to work a brand-new digital camera (seriously, we got it yesterday). There were a couple of times when the flash didn't go off, or the camera turned itself off during the time between players, and I had to ask Susan to get it set up again, while one Astro or another waited politely for me to get my act together.
If you would like to see the pictures we took of the various players during Photo Day, click here.
Another New Friend
As is the case most of the time between baseball fans, we share a common bond, and more often than not we help each other out.
We met a gentleman today named Ken from Huntsville, who is a big-time Astro fan. He wound up coming alone to the game today because a friend had cancelled on him at the last minute. I noticed that he had no one to take pictures of him with the players on his camera, so I volunteered to do so for him.
Susan and I got to talking with him, and we wound up having lunch at Ruggle's Cafe in Union Station just before the game. After I ordered, it became apparent that I had lost my credit card for it wasn't in my wallet. I went back to the table to see if Susan had it, but in the meantime, Ken picks up the check before I could get back. Pretty embarrassing, but very appreciated.
Ken reminded us of a thin version of John Goodman. He's got a sharp wit, is very outgoing, and is fun to be around.
We decide to sit together for the game, and it turned out to be a pretty good ballgame to watch. I hope that we can get together again with Ken sometime, since he comes to a lot of games, but dinner will be on us next time :-)