Posted by Steve
There are a few reasons why I hate Enron–er, Minute Maid Park:
1. The Crawford Boxes in left field, a whopping 315 feet from the plate. Nothing like Jason Lane crushing your team’s soul with 324-foot three-run homers.
2. The train above the stands. I don’t get it… Why not a rocket ship or something for the Astros? A train?
3. The stupid hill in center field. Sure it’s a deep center field, but what is the point? Can any good ever come out of putting a 30-degree incline on a baseball field? And then there’s the flagpole, on the field. It’s actually in play. I still remember Richie Sexson blasting one off the stupid flagpole for one of the longest triples of the last 30 years. Of course the Brewers stranded him and later lost the game.
4. That Killer B’s theme they kept going for about three years too long. It started with Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Derek Bell and Sean Berry. Then it was Bagwell, Biggio, Berkman, Bruntlett and Beltran. Now they include players who aren’t even good like Brandon Backe and Chris Burke, or change the rules for Brad Lidge and Brad Ausmus. They should have stopped once Biggio and Bagwell fell below league-average as players. The nickname and the buzzing sound is stupid and annoying.
5. The Brewers have never won a series in this gimmicky park.
Anyway, here are the pitching match-ups for the series:
Friday: Chris Capuano (3-0, 3.68 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.34 ERA)
Saturday: Dave Bush (2-1, 5.04 ERA) vs. Chris Sampson (2-1, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday: Claudio Vargas (1-0, 4.76 ERA) vs. Woody Williams (0-3, 5.90 ERA)
Each game looks pretty close strictly on paper. Houston’s bullpen is cashed after being swept by the Pirates. They have lost six games in a row after reaching first place for one day. This might make things seem good for the Brewers, but I’m not so sure.
Oswalt really scares me tonight. He wasn’t at his best in his last start, and the Brewers were able to get to him. But he knows his team is struggling and that his bullpen needs a break. He’s the ace of their staff, and he’s paid to perform in situations like this one. I’d be thrilled if the Crew can steal the first game, but I don’t anticipate it.
Dave Bush was great in his last start, but that was Miller Park Dave Bush. Road Dave Bush has been much friendlier to opposing teams. For whatever reason, though, Bush has owned Houston–I’m not really sure where that leaves us. Vargas wasn’t sharp in his last start either. Lucky for the Brewers, they’ll be facing Chris Sampson and Woody Williams in those games.
Houston isn’t playing well, but over the last few games, the Brewers haven’t played particularly well either. They won the Cubs series but they aren’t totally clicking yet. Considering their track record in Houston, I’ll be happy if the Brewers aren’t swept. I’ll say loss Friday, loss Saturday, win Sunday.