added 7/17/2001 by Darrell Pittman
I owe a big apology to all Houston fans… two actually. First, I picked Cleveland over Houston in the Astros Daily Winner's Circle for this game. Susan did too. Boy, were we both wrong, and so glad of it! Second, I posted a really bad article last night, allowing myself to get rushed rather than writing something worthy of your time. For both offenses, I offer my humble apologies, and promise to try to do better in the future. While this attempt at fixing it may still leave a lot to be desired, I think it is, at least somewhat better.
Great Scott! (not)
Scott Elarton struggled against the Cleveland Indians, and seemingly, himself. Trailing by as much as 6-1, the Astros did a gut-check in the eighth inning, batting around and scoring five runs to take the game 10-8.
I had thought that his last start in KC might have been his turnaround game, when he was ejected after just five pitches, then by extension, I thought this would be the turnaround game. Neither proved to be the case.
I hope Elarton likes Cajun food, for he almost gave up the game tonight, and will almost certainly be heading to New Orleans soon. I remember telling Susan in the fifth, if the 'Stros don't get at least two runs in the next inning, then they have no hope of winning the ballgame. They got those two, and then more later, but it was not because of Elarton.
Fortunately for Houston, the Indians trotted out John Rocker in the eighth.
I thought it especially appropriate that Rocker's outing would be a double to Lance Berkman, an intentional walk to Moises Alou, a single to Richard Hidalgo, a double to Vinny Castilla, and singles to Mendy Lopez and Craig Biggio. One wonders if Rocker would mind riding on the same bus with these guys.
Ever the class act, Rocker even flipped off a lady that was sitting behind the Indians' dugout as he stomped off the field. (Funny, I didn't know he was a bird lover!)
It was so choice seeing Rocker being lit up like a pinball machine.
Wrangler mangles call
I have to admit, I just about came unglued in the fifth when Dierker allowed Dave Mlicki to hit, or rather I should say, allowed him to come to the plate. I still don't understand that one. Perhaps he wanted to rest the bullpen as much as he could.
Perhaps because of the recent string of controversies involving umpiring, ejections, etc., and curiously following the attendance of Bob Watson at the game just the night before, the umpiring crew was changed in the middle of a series, something I had not seen before.
The Randazzo/Schreiber/Montague/Guccione crew were replaced by Young/Fletcher/Culbreth/Barnes.
It was so nice seeing the same strike zone being called for both clubs. Sunday night, Randazzo's strike zone was much larger for the Astros than it was for the Indians.
At least we didn't have to contend with Rippley's "Believe It or Not" strike zone.
Jimmy Wynn, the "Toy Cannon", was on hand for tonight's game.
Dusty Hill (of Z.Z. Topp fame) threw out the first pitch. (Hint: he's the one with the beard.) I guess Farrah Fawcett wasn't in town.
In the eighth inning, as we rose to cheer Vinny Castilla's double off John Rocker, I knocked over my beer. The guy sitting behind me told me that I should score it as a "sac beer." I guess you could say that I "took one for the team."
Hazel, the usher-cum-cheerleader, whom I mentioned a few "At the Game" articles back, was honored before the game as an Employee-of-the-Month for June. Way to go Hazel! You rock!
Suffice to say, the 'Stros look well-poised for the second-half pennant run at the Cubs, against whom we play a weekend series here in Houston. I say, bring 'em on!
Most interesting in that series will be the Monday match-up... Kerry Woods against Roy Oswalt. That will be a beauty of a game.