8:05 PM, FSNP, WPGB
Tom Gorzelanny vs. Woody Williams.
Williams makes his return to the N.L. Central and his Astros debut tonight. Most of us probably remember him best from his days with the Cardinals, which were the greatest of his career even though he was already in his mid-30s by the time he got to St. Louis. Since leaving the Cards in 2004, he's been hanging out in San Diego, where PETCO Park and the Padres' good defense have masked his steady decline. Now he's just a mediocre flyball pitcher with a terrible outfield defense behind him, and he's playing in a park that doesn't exactly supress homers. Expect him to have all kinds of problems, perhaps starting tonight. Given that we don't really know what's going on with Gorzelanny right now either, this one could be a shootout.
Here's a brand-new Pirates-related blog to check out while you wait for the game to start: Thoughts of RS
Here's the boxscore. There are no changes to the Bucs' lineup. For the Astros, Jason Lane bats sixth and plays right field, and Humberto Quintero "hits" eighth plays the role of no-stick, good-glove, right-handed catcher. Brad Ausmus has the night off. Question: if you're going to have a backup catcher as bad as Quintero, why not just go out and get a guy who doesn't duplicate the skills of your starter? (Probably because you overvalue the skills of your starter, who's one of the worst position players in baseball, but I digress.) Eric Munson probably isn't ever going to cut it as a major leaguer, but he's the right idea - he's left-handed and can hit a homer every once in a while. And what was wrong with J.R. House? That might've worked if they'd given it a chance. House is right-handed, but you get the idea - he's a different sort of player. Unless your bench players are legitimately good, it limits your tactical options a lot if they essentially duplicate other players on your roster. The Astros might have benefited last night from the presence of an extra left-handed bat in the lineup against Ian Snell, who struggles against lefties. Instead, their entire lineup was right-handed, except for pitcher Jason Jennings and switch-hitter Lance Berkman.
10:13 Ok, I'm watching. What is B.P. doing in the game? We need a better bullpen.
10:17 Chris Sampson enters the game for the Astros. He's the Astros equivalent of Chacon - not in terms of style, and he's not in that he's abjectly terrible like Chacon is, but in that he's the mediocre swingman type who never strikes anyone out but can work multiple-inning stretches.
10:21 Jose Bautista rips a bouncer that Morgan Ensberg can't handle. Maybe the Bucs can get something going here.
10:23 Oh, wow, they're letting Chacon hit? We really need a better bullpen. Or starters working deeper into games.
10:32 Chacon actually gets six straight outs. That's quite a stroke of luck.
10:34 Jack Wilson hits a single to center - he's starting the year hot.
10:39 Adam LaRoche has two strikeouts again tonight, giving him seven in three games.
10:41 Matt Capps for the third straight game. I know he didn't pitch much the first game, but he's the last guy I'd want to run ragged.
10:45 Whatever my complaints about the 'pen, they are getting it done tonight, as Capps gets through the eighth with no problems.
10:51 Nothing doing in the top of the ninth. We'll get to see Salomon Torres try to make his third save in three days.
10:54 Mark Loretta will pinch hit for Quintero, then Mike Lamb will pinch hit for Sampson. As little as I like Quintero, the Astros' bench really is pretty good after him.
10:55 Torres gets Loretta on a sinker in the zone. One down.
10:56 Lamb pops up the first pitch; Craig Biggio could be it for the 'Stros.
10:57 Biggio hits it out. I'm glad I don't have to listen to Astros announcers all year - not every hit he gets is a milestone, guys.
10:58 Torres strikes out Chris Burke to end the game. That sinker was working for him today. I didn't actually get to see a whole lot of this game, but I see that Jose Bautista did well, that rumors of Tom Gorzelanny's demise were probably exaggerated, and that the bullpen stayed glued together. I'm concerned about Jim Tracy's willingness to use B.P. (and Don Kelly, and John Wasdin) in situations that matter. It hasn't hurt the Bucs so far, but it probably will eventually. In any case, I'll take the win - the Bucs sweep the Astros and are now 3-0. That means they can't be under .500 until at least, what, the end of the week? I'm kind of being sarcastic, but only kind of.