Sunday, May 09, 2004

That was a strange game between the Astros and Braves last night.

Craig Biggio had hit 2 HRs, it was 3-1 Houston in the 8th, with Roy Oswalt pitching lights-out. The Astros coaches had started to get a little testy on a call earlier in the game when Jeff Bagwell hit a ball in the infield that Horacio Ramirez almost picked up (and would have likely been an infield single) before the ball made an incredible detour foul--3rd Base coach Gene Lamont and manager Jimy Williams began a string of disagreements there, and everything started to come to a head in the 8th. When Jesse Garcia claimed a pitch hit his helmet and umpire Gary Darling didn't make the call right away, they appealed to a 2nd base umpire to make the call, who ruled in favor of Garcia--the entire infield was livid that the call went against them and that the appeal went to the 2nd base umpire. Williams was ejected, he looked like he wanted a piece of that 2nd base umpire. That gave Atlanta 1st and 2nd, nobody out. Suddenly, after a Furcal "sacrifice" (they really should start calling those infield grounders that advance runners a sacrifice), Oswalt could NOT find the strike zone, and he started getting unreasonably frustrated at Darling for not calling strikes--but he wasn't throwing any! He walks Wilson Betemit (yet another young Brave filling in) and Adam LeRoche singles a run home and the bases stay loaded, and it's 3-2. Chipper Jones up, Oswalt throws a pitch about eight inches outside (noticeably outside, and the count goes to 3-1), and he loses it! Darling nearly throws him out right there. He walks Chipper to force the tie, 3-3. No more runs score after two pitching changes (one visit to the mound raises Darling's ire AGAIN with the Houston coaches), but Oswalt gets tossed after going a little Bobby Knight in the dugout and throwing stuff on the field.

So, Houston then gets the lead back in the 9th off Smoltz, who throws almost batting practice fastballs to the first three hitters, Morgan Ensberg hits a triple off the glove of Andruw, who nearly makes one of the best catches I would have ever seen, running back all the way to the track and diving, the ball lands in his glove but departs on the ground's impact. Houston quickly gets a single from Jose Vizcaino to make it 4-3. After another single by Lance Berkman and a 1st and 3rd, nobody out situation. Smoltz strikes out the red-hot Biggio and then Adam Everett, and Jeff Bagwell grounds out.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Astros use Brad Lidge instead of closer Octavio Dotel, who has thrown three nights in a row. Lidge gives up a pinch hit single to one of my up-and-coming favorite players, Johnny Estrada. Jesse Garcia comes up again, hits a ball on the right-field chalk, gets some bounces and a game-tying triple, 4-4.

After Antonio Alfonseca gets the Astros in the top of the 10th, the Astros send Ricky Stone to pitch to Chipper, Drew, and Andruw. He gets the just-back Chipper, who ends the night 0-4. He strikes out Drew. Andruw hits a pitch in a way that makes it look like it's going to be an easy right-field catch but it somehow drifts into the seats like one of those Coors or Enron homers that are ridiculous--but knowing the nature of Turner Field, we just realize that Andruw got it all for the game-winning HR. A great game.


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