HOUSTON - JUNE 25: Chris Denorfia #13 of the San Diego Padres makes an attempt to catch a ball off the bat of Brian Bixler #12 of the Houston Astros that went for a home run at Minute Maid Park on June 25, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
How was your Monday today? Fine? Good, because that was a rhetorical question. I always think it's nice to divert your attention away from an Astros loss by talking about my personal life and the struggles that make my life difficult. Now as for me, it was one hot day as the temperature in my backyard reached 104 degrees, and I had to mow the grass. It was pure torture. But enough of that. Time to recap Game 1 of the Astros-Padres series at the fantabulous Minute Maid Park.
Boiler explodes? What is Busta smoking you're asking. Now now, children, I am perfectly fine and sober. You guys are just overreacting. I think it's a very creative title because it describes exactly what happened. Or at least, close to it. The regulators as you know, have not been very good at regulating lately. So in a 1-run game when we're leading in the top of the 8th inning, Brad Mills decides to keep Fernando Rodriguez in the game to pitch. What puzzled me is why F-Rod was pitching in a 1-run game and Brandon Lyon wasn't. Lyon has been arguably the better pitcher. F-Rod was entering the game with a 5.93 ERA and 7 losses on the season. 7 losses! In a 1-run game! In the 8th Inning! Why? Well, the boiler exploded as the regulators couldn't keep the boiler pressure from reaching dangerously high levels. (Ah, it makes sense now). The result was 2-run go-ahead homer for the Padres that put F-Rod on line for his 8th loss of the season. When was the last time a relief pitcher was responsible for 8 losses?
Of course, Jason Castro hit a game-tying homerun in the bottom of the 8th to effectively eliminate the possibility F-Rod gets his 8th loss of the season. But really, Brad Mills needs to stop putting F-Rod into close games. He is just terrible.
On the pitching side of the game, Wandy Rodriguez pitched 6.2 innings, giving up 4 runs in the 2nd inning and 1 in the 3rd inning. Those runs came partly on some lucky hitting by the Padres with 2 infield singles in the 2nd backed up by some solid line drives to the outfield. He came out of the game in the 7th inning, perhaps feeling a bit fatigued. F-Rod came in and of course we know what happened there. So with the score tied in the 9th, Brett Myers pitched a shutout 9th inning. He was replaced by PH Justin Maxwell who struck out. Brandon Lyon finally was brought into the game, in the 10th inning. He did give up 1 run and did not look his best. Nonetheless, I still felt he should have pitched the 8th over F-Rod. If he was unavailable for the game, I would have understood the decision to use F-Rod, but with Lyon pitching a full inning anyway, he was clearly ready to be used. So why not in the 8th inning?
On the offense, Bixler has made a solid case in his limited opportunities to stay on the roster a bit longer. He hit a lead-off HR to RF to start the game and hit a double later on in the game, eventually going 2-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. With his flexibility and performance, I can see Matt Downs getting optioned when Marwin Gonzalez comes back from the DL, rather than Bixler.
Also, how about that Jason Castro? With a homer and a double today, he has raised his batting average to .255 and continues to show improvement at the plate. It will be nice to see what he can do later on in the season. He might make the perfect 2-hole hitter in the future with enough improvement with the bat.
Other offensive notables, Carlos Lee hit his 5th homer of the year and J.D Martinez and Chris Johnson both had two hits apiece. Jed Lowrie hit a hard double to RF on a line, which was nice to see. But in the end the Astros lost 8-7. The Astros will continue the series tomorrow with Jordan Lyles facing Kip Wells, who has not pitched in the majors in nearly over 3 years.