This will easily the first time that I won't mind having had to stay alert until 12:20 AM CDT to write a game recap. The Astros started off the second half of the season in encouraging fashion with Wandy Rodriguez battling through what HLP and I remarked, via phone, to be one widely inconsistent, but wide, strike zone to shut out the Dodgers for six innings. After that, Tim Byrdak, Alberto Arias, LaTroy Hawkins, and Jose Valverde combined to honor Wandy's effort and slam the door on a shut out on the best team in baseball whose fabled slugger, Manny Ramirez, was back in LA for the first time since his attempt to restart his ovaries landed him a 50 game suspension.
The positives (there will be no corollary negatives):
- Wandy Rodriguez posted the following line: 6IP, 5H, 0R, 6K, 2BB, 7 GB outs, and 5 FB outs on 108 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. That's a 3 K:BB and a 5.56 K/100. Not the greatest outing ever, but against a team who is near the top in just about every offensive category of worth in the NL—pretty stellar. Thanks, Wandy.
- Humberto Quintero felt bad about stranding Kaz Matsui after Kaz just missed a HR in the 3rd, so he went ahead a crushed his first HR of the year to deep right center field.
- Cecil Cooper pulled the right lever by inserting Darin Erstad as Lance Berkman's defensive replacement and it paid off in spades with Erstad making two pretty dazzling plays to keep the Dodgers from truly threatening the Astros. The problem of watching the game on mute is that you don't find out Lance Berkman left the game with a calf strain until it pops up in your RSS feed after you hit publish...
- Alberto Arias continues to honor everyone here at TCB who pegged him to be a dark horse for the Astros in 2009 by working out of he and Byrdak's jam in the 7th by striking out Juan Piere and Raphel Furcal before getting a GB out on Andre Either.
- Carlos Lee didn't have an embarrassing moment in the game.