Minute Maid Park | 2:05 | Maholm vs. Brandon Backe | Box
Loss #83 came fast and furious. The Astros jumped all over Paul Maholm and then Juan Perez and then Tony Armas (who is mercifully out of the rotation). Maholm gave up 10 earnies and 11 hits while retiring 8 hitters. Not a great start by any definition. As Cory noted in the comments, his ERA jumped a ton. Houston was up 13-2 after four innings. Late in the game, Dave Davidson tossed an inning and gave up two runs and actually lowered his ERA from 27.00 to 22.50. He was hit for three earned runs in one inning of work in his ML debut back on 9/6. If you want a silver lining from the pitching side of things, Bryan Bullington tossed three innings of shut out ball. So, that’s good.
It’s hard to say much good about an offense that managed just four hits all game and just three off of Brandon Backe in six innings of work. But all four hits were for extra bases. They included Carlos Maldonado’s first career homer, Jason Bay’s first homer and first RBI of September and a homer and a double from Jack Wilson, who continues to be on fire and is now hitting .297. Wilson is hitting .532 in September with 16 RBI in 47 ABs. He only had 13 RBI in April and May combined. That was in 195 at bats.
From the Houston side of things, Josh Anderson collected five hits in just his 9th big league game. Believe it or not, that’s not the earliest ever (in the retrosheet.org era). Mike Lansing collected five knocks in his fifth game back on 4/11/93 (starting pitcher was Bill Henry. Pittsburgh’s own John Wehner also did it in his fifth game back on 7/23/91. Charlie Leibrandt started for the Braves when Wehner worked his magic.
To the best of my knowledge, the record for most hits in an ML debut is four held by several players, including Bill Bean, Kirby Puckett, Russ Van Atta, Art Shires, Spook Jacobs, Ray Jansen, Ted Cox, Casey Stengel, Ed Freed, Willie McCovey, Mack Jones, DeLino DeShields, and Derrick Gibson. Bill Bean is not Billy Beane, the A’s GM. That doesn’t include Fred Clarke’s debut in 1894 in which he collected five knocks.
AP recap at Yahoo! Sports
There are plenty of good signs from Paul Maholm as I compare 2006 with 2007. He’s just three innings shy of reaching his 2006 total. His ERA is about a half a run better. He has given up 19 fewer hits and 32 fewer walks, sufficiently dropping his WHIP. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last four starts and won three of them. His ERA over that stretch is 3.00. He is 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA after the All-Star break. He missed his last turn in the rotation with back trouble, but hopefully he’ll be in form this afternoon as the Bucs hope to avoid their 83 loss of the year and create some more distance between them and the cellar.
In 2007 he’s done very well against the Astros. He has won both of his starts against the Astros by allowing just two earnies in 15-2/3. That includes a complete game shutout on April 24, the first of his career. For his career against the Astros he is 3-2 with a 4.21 ERA. He’s been hit pretty hard in Minute Maid. In two career starts he is 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA.
Craig Biggio is 5-12 with two homers off of Maholm. Mike Lamb is 4-6. Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman are a combined 4-25 with no extra base hits.
Brandon Backe has recently returned from Tommy John surgery. He had been a mediocre relief pitcher in Tampa Bay and then for Houston. In 2005 the Astros moved him into the rotation and he was mediocre there as well. Now he is back. In his first two starts of 2007, he is 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA.
Backe has done well against the Pirates. In seven career appearances (four starts), Backe is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA. No Pirate has more than three hits off him. But, several do have homers including Adam LaRoche, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Josh Phelps.
Saturday Night Thoughts
Notre Dame just looked flat awful Saturday. Charlie Weis has never had a strong defense and that won’t cut it. He gambled last year on winning a National Championship and now the offense is in shambles due in large part to a lack of experience and lack of talent. More of the guys playing this year should’ve seen time in games last year. I knew this year would be a rebuilding year. However, I didn’t think ND would be a national laughingstock like the early 1980s with Gerry Faust. But, that’s where it’s at: everyone is making fun of my Irish. Deservedly so. They stink.