added 4/9/2004 by Jared Klewein
I don’t know how it sits with other fans, but for me, an Astro-loss hurts a heck of a lot more when it takes place in front of the national media. Such was the case the previous two nights. I knew those two losses were just that…two losses, no more…no less. Definitely not the end of the world when looking at the big picture (as mentioned in my last post on April 6th) but still, the way we lost those games (with the Bonds homer off Oswalt and Pettitte getting shelled in his debut) left me with a feeling of embarrassment. All season we we’re finally being picked by the media to succeed and, “Bam”, right out the gate…we blow it.
Well, what a difference a day makes, huh? Man-Oh-Man do I feel better! Nothing like watching a future Hall of Famer take the mound for your favorite team, and in his debut… throw 7 scoreless innings of 1-hit ball to get the win in front of yet again, another national television audience. Throw in a 0 for 2 by big, bad Barry Bonds (both of which where K’s, looking) and you’ve got instant gratification.
I was extremely impressed with Clemens’ performance. He had everything working last night, including location. It’s interesting to compare the control of say an Oswalt (youngster) vs. Clemens (veteran). After watching both of their first starts it would appear that Oswalt has a little better control, but if you really dig in a little further, you find one more chip that slides the scale over Clemens way. The other night Oswalt had a couple hitters down in the count at 0-2 and then missed with pitches out over the plate, both resulting in hits. Watching Clemens last night…he may have missed his spots at times…but he always seemed to miss off the plate, which is exactly where you want to be if such a thing is going to happen. You’ve got to figure that with Clemens’ experience…missing off the plate was no accident. I hope Oswalt is taking notes. After reviewing Clemens’ entire start yesterday, it was velocity that was the most telling characteristic for me. Here’s the high he registered on the gun throughout the game: 1st – 5th (95mph); 6th-7th (94mph). What that means is that Clemens can still bring it with the best of them, and easily do so over a 100-pitch duration. I was a little worried about his short retirement (no exercise) and additional year of age showing their teath…but not anymore.
Additional Game Notes:
Biggio had another great night at the plate. Joe Morgan seemed to echo my sentiments in regards to Biggio’s change in mechanics at the plate. He too feels this could help Biggio’s game, especially with the dreaded outside sliders, which have troubled Bidge the last few years. Biggio’s 1st inning double was in my opinion, a product of the change in mechanics, as he was able to keep his hands and weight back…driving what I believe was an outside slider to the rightfield corner with authority. Knock on wood. I hope I’m right about his success continuing all season long.
I thought a key play in last night’s game was Everett’s stolen base in the 3rd inning. I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that that stolen base ruffled Williams feathers a bit, and in doing so, threw off his concentration enough to serve up that homer to Bagwell. Those two runs had to make Clemens feel good. Again, I’ve got a really good feeling about Everett in the #2-hole. He put down a beautiful sacrifice in the 5th (his 2nd of the season), which lead to a run and although I’m sure he won’t keep up his Astronomical, early season success, an increase over his 2003 numbers is definitely in order. You can just tell that he’s more comfortable at the plate.
Hat’s off to Mr. Berkman. The guy maybe hitless in the early going, but that sure has heck has nothing to due with lack of hustling. He ran out a dribbler to the pitcher and two more ground outs to Ray Durham at second with 110% effort. In fact…I think he surprised Durham on the first grounder…darn near beating out the throw. So again, keep it up Lance,…you’re my kind of player. The hits will eventually come.
The only negative I saw last night was one that John Lauck had previously alluded to around the last week or so in Spring Training. Brad Ausmus may indeed be starting to regress defensively. Ausmus’ attempted caught stealing in the 3rd against Ray Durham was simply stated – WEAK. There just wasn’t any zip whatsoever on the throw. Guess only time will tell if it’s injury or age. Let’s hope for the former, and in doing so, also hope for a speedy recovery.
In other League News: Mike Piazza went 5-5 against Atlanta last night. Two of those hits were homers, bringing him within one homer of Carlton Fisk for the all-time record for homeruns by a catcher. Quite impressive.
Last Note: I’m obviously not a top rate journalist, so I’ll apologize now for any grammatical errors I’ve made. I just like to throw my thoughts out there. Hopefully you’ll agree that something is better than nothing, especially on an Astro off day.
Until next time,
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