What do you do with LaHawk. I was all ready to slam his performance in the 9th inning and make a case for Sampson to take over closer duties on a probational basis, and then I saw this - In the 9th inning, batters facing LaHawk are:
3x28, .107/.194/.143, 9K:3BB, 1XBH. Last night was just one of those things, but we probably should give credit to the Astros for coming back from a 5-0 deficit and tying it up.
Let's just do the thing:
Paulino: 5.1IP, 7H/4ER, 3K:2BB
Wright: .2IP, 2H/1ER
Ortiz: 1IP, 1H, 1K:1BB
Sampson: 2IP, 2K
LaHawk: 1IP, 2H/1ER, 2K:1BB
We did mention Paulino pitching for his job with Backe's impending return from a season's worth of rehab starts. Did he do it last night? Taken into consideration should be his starting/relieving/waiting around role. If a starting pitcher needs a routine to feel comfortable, then Paulino must be the most uncomfortable pitcher in the world. That said, you have to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. We'll see what happens...
Paulino threw an awful lot of pitches - 102 in 5.1IP. The Rangers had 11 plate appearances in which they saw 5+ pitches from Paulino (how's that for alliteration?). That said, Paulino did get 30 non-contact strikes. But there were also six at-bats in which he got to some variation of a 3-ball count. He just wasn't sharp.
At least for nothing else, we'll remember the first quarter of 2009 as the time in which Michael Bourn broke out - he's just raking, 3x5 last night in the most productive game for him in the leadoff spot. Against left-handed pitching, Bourn is 10x30. He's more patient, working the count to three balls 38 times this season already. Last season, Bourn had 22 hits off lefties...all year.
But it was Berkman's three-run jack in the sixth that scored Bourn and Matsui. Just as I was saying "Come on, Lance, hit a homer" in my best Bull Durham impression - he did exactly that, and the Astros went on to tie the game. However, the last good chance for the Astros came in the 8th inning, after tying the game at 5-5, Berkman began the inning striking out on three straight pitches, Lee and Pence singled. Tejada then on the second pitch promptly GIDPed to end the inning. Lance got on in the 10th, but Michaels struck out looking on a borderline pitch. Still, on a 2-2 count, you've got to battle the borderline pitches. Which is easy for me, as I have exactly the same amount of hits in 2009 as Jason Smith - ha!
And speaking of Jason Smith, Edwin Maysonet traded spots with him, getting an eight-pitch pinch-hit fly out to center in his first AB with the Big Club this season.
Man of the Match:
Lance Berkman. Changed the complexion of the game with a 3-run homer, and put himself on base in the 10th. He's still hitting just .239 on the season, but since coming back from those three days off with the sore wrist, he's 12x29 (.414/.528/.655) with 2HR, 8RBI, 3K:7BB
Goat of the Game:
Wesley Wright. First-pitch homer to Saltalamaschsoifhasrio means that his ERA is 7.82.