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Friday, June 09, 2006

Fat Elvis Continues Astros Renaissance

Buried in third place in the All-Star first baseman voting, the ordinarily placid Lance ("Fat Elvis") Berkman opted to vent his wrath on poor John Thomson and the mediocre Atlanta Braves. (I'd say that the Braves--whose 4.64 team ERA is no better than 11th in the NL and whose 1.44 WHIP is 14th--are missing stud pitching coach Leo Mazzone, but it's not like Baltimore's faring any better.) In any event, this is again one of those occasions where we do not need the expert services of Nostradamus to predict that Atlanta's division-win streak is over this season.

Besides, Nostradamus is a bit of a pretentious a-hole, always strutting around the place, pissing us off, making odd predictions:
  • "I predict that you're going to leave that bagel in the toaster too long and end up having to throw it out."

  • "That chili-and-cheese hot dog you bought at the Astros game today will be effecting great violence upon your digestive tract tonight and all day tomorrow."

  • "Even the $5 French prostitutes will reject your advances this evening."
So if we can avoid having to call him in for a day, all the better. Anyway, even though John Thomson (now 2-7) pretty much sucks, we've sort of had this penchant for making crappy pitchers look like Cy Young contenders. Besides, notwithstanding the past two years' worth of playoff shellackings of the Bravos, we haven't exactly enjoyed incredible success against them over the past ten years or so.

Not only did John Thomson cough up two dingers to Fat Elvis--the former of which travelled an estimated 425 feet--but Berkman thwarted his bid for an RBI in the sixth inning by throwing out Jeff Francoeur, who had been attempting to score on Thomson's flyout into right field. Not to diminish FE's accomplishments last night, but the true offensive story of the night was that Special K drew a walk last night, bringing his season total to eleven. He also didn't strike out! Accordingly, he brought his strikeout-to-walk ratio under 6:1. Kudos, Kaptain K!

Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel managed to pitch effectively, if not efficiently. Although he gave up only two runs, he still threw 109 pitches and walked three batters in only six innings of work. His ERA dipped below 6.00 for the first time in awhile, although his WHIP actually went up and his BAA remained at an unhealthy .322. In fact, I compared Cletus's opponents' statistics to actual players, and discovered the following:

Cletus: .322 BAA .406 OBP .588 SLG .990 OPS
Brad Hawpe: .323 BAA .399 OBP .581 SLG .980 OPS

Essentially, then, everybody who bats against Cletus hits as well as the eighth best hitter in the National League. That would make sense given that--for at least the third game in a row--Cletus coughed up a hit to the opposing pitcher.

The Mole pitched a perfect ninth, bringing his ERA under 5.00. It's probably too early to say that he's back to form, though, anymore than we should be assuming that Cletus isn't going to turn around and suck in his next outing. (Remember that, in his last start, Cletus gave up seven runs in six innings. At best, one could describe Cletus's performance this year as "inconsistent.")

All in all, though, I just can't complain about our third win in a row. The Astros Renaissance continues.


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