Four errors helped the Astros waste a decent start by Wandy Rodriguez in their last season opener as a National League team Friday night, dropping a 5-3 decision to the visiting Colorado Rockies.
As the last link to the 2005 World Series team, and the “best” pitcher on the roster, Rodriguez drew the opening day assignment for the first time in his career by default. He managed the general fuckwititry surrounding him as well as he could, delivering six and a third innings, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs, none earned. So, quality start? Hooray? He also was credited with one of the errors, mainly because Jose Altuve had the Lollipop Guild song stuck in his head and forgot to cover first base on a bunt. Allegedly.
Several of Rodriguez’s teammates in the infield joined the error parade, including Chris Johnson, Altuve and Jason Castro. Carlos Lee refused to participate in the shenanigans by refusing to move for most of the game. If you live in Denver, Castro’s 8th inning gaff proved to be the game winner, and you’re likely very grateful, because who the hell wants to lose to this decades’ Pirates. Otherwise, watching Castro launch a ball behind a frozen runner into center field, resulting in a two base error, looked like a 2011 highlight.
One bright spot: Contractyear Lee began his year long audition for a job in the American League next year as soon as possible by picking up an RBI in the 1st inning and knocking the snot out of a 4th inning offering from Jeremy Guthrie over the eternally unnecessary train tracks in left field. Unfortunately, he didn’t hit the engineer, who apparently came straight to the game from an audition for a stage adaptation of 1993’s Super Mario Bros.
Overall, it appeared that despite wholesale changes in the front office and player ranks during the off-season, not much has changed from last season. There’s just not enough pitching or hitting to make up for a four error game. The opener was a game that a mediocre team would have won. The Astros will have to aspire to mediocrity for 2012.
Assuming the Mayans are wrong, next year, when they open with a loss to the Royals, maybe we’ll see some tangible progress. But for now, at least baseball, or whatever it is the Astros were doing Friday night, is back.