|Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
9 most recent entries
Astros manager Cecil Cooper and first baseman Lance Berkman were in agreement on Roy Oswalt, calling his performance Sunday afternoon his best in at least a couple of years.
The Arizona Diamondbacks certainly wouldn’t argue.
Oswalt held the Diamondbacks to one hit and struck out 10 batters in eight scoreless innings to lead the Astros to a 3-0 victory at Minute Maid Park that snapped a two-game losing streak.
“What a performance by Roy,” Berkman said. “This is probably the best game I’ve seen him throw in two or three years.”
Oswalt (11-8) won his fifth consecutive decision in dominating fashion, retiring the final 15 batters he faced after giving up a two-out single to Stephen Drew in the third inning.
“He had everything working,” Arizona catcher Chris Snyder said. “He was tough. He was spotting his fastball and doing pretty much anything he wanted to do. He had very good stuff.
“It was just one of those days.”
Jose Valverde, traded to the Astros by the Diamondbacks last winter, finished off the shutout by allowing one hit in the ninth for his 31st save of the season and second against his former team.
It was the Astros’ first two-hitter since Taylor Buchholz and Brad Lidge combined to throw one April 22, 2006.
“Roy was outstanding, just phenomenal,” Cooper said. “I thought it was without question his best outing this year and the second-best outing I’ve ever seen him throw.
“The other was in ’05 (Game 6 of the NLCS). I think we saw two of the best ever throw (Sunday). The other guy was pretty good but made one mistake and it cost him.”
.510 clip during streak
The only mistake Arizona starter Randy Johnson made came on a 1-0 pitch in the first inning to red-hot Ty Wigginton, who slugged a three-run homer to left to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. He went 3-for-4 and is hitting .510 since Aug. 3.
“I was looking for a pitch middle-in from Randy, and I think he probably made a mistake and I was able to get it,” Wigginton said.
Johnson (10-9), who 10 years ago was helping the Astros reach the playoffs, was 6-1 with a 1.77 ERA in his previous seven starts.
“I didn’t make the pitch I needed to and Roy pitched outstanding,” Johnson said. “You kind of knew after the first two games (12-2 and 11-5 Arizona wins), to see that kind of a performance three times would’ve been a lot to ask for.
“He pitched outstanding and I made one mistake, which I guess is what it comes down to. I started making the pitches after the fact, and that’s pretty much the whole ballgame, really.”
Oswalt walked the leadoff batter in the first inning, but he got Chad Tracy to line into an inning-ending double play. He walked the leadoff batter again in the third, but right fielder Hunter Pence threw out Snyder at the plate on Drew’s single to end the inning.
“I don’t like the walks too much, but I was able to recover on the one guy and Pence threw the other guy out,” Oswalt said. “Big throw from the field and we got it going after the third inning.”
Cooper didn’t hesitate in bringing in Valverde for the ninth inning, even though Oswalt had thrown only 105 pitches.
Oswalt OK with decision
“We always kind of check with (Oswalt) a little bit,” Cooper said. “He’s our stud, so we check with him after an inning to see how he is and he was running on some fumes at the end. I let the big boy finish.”
Oswalt had no problem with the decision, saying complete games aren’t important to him. The Astros haven’t had a complete game this season.
“I started getting a little bit tired in the eighth, laboring a little bit,” Oswalt said. “I felt myself coming off the ball some and the ball was tailing back over the plate, but I had enough to get through the eighth and Valverde came in and closed it out.”
HOUSTON -- Craig Biggio grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and while he wasn't a die-hard fan of either the Mets or Yankees, he, like every typical New Yorker, knew what number Mickey Mantle wore.
Never could Biggio have imagined that decades later and thousands of miles away from his original hometown, that he would look up to the rafters and watch a bit of history unfold as his No. 7 was officially retired, never to be worn by another Houston player.
"I know the significance of it," Biggio said. "This is a huge thing. That's why I was kind of nervous."
Dozens of numbers have been retired over the years by dozens of teams, but the number seven has been retired only twice. Mantle's was retired by the Yankees in 1969. On Sunday, the honor belonged to Biggio, who witnessed the unveiling of his lucky number before a packed house at Minute Maid Park that included longtime friends, colleagues, teammates and family members, all of whom gathered on the field to honor a true Astros original.
The event included speeches by teammates and coaches closest to Biggio, including longtime Astros coach Matt Galante, who worked tirelessly with Biggio during his conversion from a catcher to a second baseman.
"He would tell me, 'Don't tell me what I'm doing well,'" Galante recalled. "'I know that. Tell me what I need to do to become a good player.' He said, 'If we do this switch, I don't want to be just good at it, I want to be really good at it.'
"I said, 'Craig, if you want to do that, then you have to think about Gold Gloves.' And he won four of them."
Jeff Bagwell, who played 15 years with Biggio and whose No. 5 was retired last year, credited Biggio with redefining the mold of the prototypical second baseman.
"It's not just defense," Bagwell said. "It's offense, baserunning -- everything you see now from second basemen, it started with Craig. He was truly one of the greatest players who ever played this game.
"I can't tell you how privileged I am to have had the chance to play with him for the last 15 years. You're an amazing player, an amazing father, an amazing husband. Anyone with a child sitting next to them -- you want your child to grow up and be Craig Biggio."
A special highlight for the honoree arrived when 15-year-old Conor Biggio, the eldest of the three children, gave a speech that was both touching and funny, especially when he poked fun at his dad for some of his well-known strategies at the plate.
"He would do anything to help his team," Conor said. "Even if it was by accident -- like when he 'accidentally' moved his arm out, and 'accidentally' got hit by the pitch.'"
Conor said his dad was resourceful, using only two helmets at Minute Maid Park, both of which were, according to the eldest Biggio son, "just nasty."
"He would chew a piece of gum, and when it was time for him to bat, he would stick the piece of gum in his helmet and save it for later."
As the crowd laughed, Conor added, "That nasty helmet you saw on the outside had gum stains all on the inside."
Biggio's kids presented him with a collage of photos of their childhoods, ranging from their earlier years to modern times.
The Astros also presented Biggio with gifts -- three jerseys, each from a different era of his 20-year career, and a John Deere infield groomer for the baseball team at St. Thomas High School, where Biggio serves as the head coach.
"[Bagwell] volunteered to come over and drive it and help get the diamond in good shape," club owner Drayton McLane joked.
The ceremony continued with a video presentation highlighting the best of Biggio's 20-year career. It began with old footage of an interview with Biggio's college coach from Seton Hall talking about "this kid, Biggio, who could really be something special."
The list of on-field guests included Biggio's immediate family, his mother, Johnna, and his brother, Terry, who is home from a year-long tour in Iraq, where he voluntarily helped to rebuild the air traffic control system.
The late Ken Caminiti's family, long considered family to the Biggios, also attended -- Caminiti's wife, Nancy, and their three daughters, Kendall, Lindsey and Nicole.
Biggio also thanked former Houston second baseman and fan favorite Bill Doran, who more than a decade and a half ago flew to Houston to help Biggio properly make the conversion from catcher to second base.
Most of the living retired numbers were there, too -- Bagwell, Jose Cruz, Mike Scott, Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn, as were three behind-the-scenes contributors who played huge roles in Biggio's success. He described traveling secretary Barry Waters and clubhouse manager Dennis Liborio as the "backbone of the franchise," while thanking his agent Barry Axelrod for his role in making sure he finished his career in a Houston uniform.
The event ended with Biggio throwing the first pitch to his good friend Brad Ausmus, who jokingly crouched five feet in front of home plate before moving back to the normal position.
Biggio gave that ball to his brother, Terry, whose time in Iraq last year forced him to miss Biggio's 3,000th hit, his retirement announcement and his final game.
"My kids have plenty," he said. "[Terry] deserves it. He's been a great brother to me, he works hard, he's a good man."
To the fans, Biggio's message was simple but poignant.
"Thank you for sticking with me through the years," he said. "Thank you for being Astros fans. Thank you for being fans of the game. I think the coolest thing about Astros fans is they love the logo, but they truly love the person that wears it more."
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
I had completely forgotten about this interview and award (since I didn't accept it...bad timing, not enough money, bad political climate, etc.), but here it is, for memory's sake. Too bad they didn't post the picture...it was actually a very nice picture...ah, the days when I was thin...
2 comments | post a comment
2 comments | post a comment
Sweet, sweet sleep!
1. My journal is called _____ because _____.
lucas: HAPPY ENGAGEMENT, FUCKERS!!!! I'm drinking tequila in your honor!!! Call me!!post a comment
This entry will be comments for everyone on my mutual friends list. If you don't know if you're on it, check my under mutual friends.
as she said...feel free guessing..not sure how many will reply to this since no one has been replying lately, but eh. whatever...
7 comments | post a comment