View Full Version : Strategies to neuter the Astros' bats

Frater Perdurabo
10-25-2005, 09:34 AM
Like any other strong pitcher, Oswalt concerns me. However, I know Podsednik, Iguchi, Dye and Konerko are smart enough to avoid swinging at garbage, drive up his pitch count, move runners over, scratch out a few runs, and try to feast on the Astros' bullpen.

I'm more concerned about the Astros' bats in their home park. I'm confident Garland will be his usual excellent self, relying on his sinker to get groundball outs. However, what should Garland do with Lance Berkman? He's been a beast with 5 RBI so far in two games. Even worse, he has a 1.002 OPS against groundball pitchers since 2002 (.995 in 2005).

Although Garland won 18 games this year, and pitched well enough to win 20, occasionally some guys eat him alive. I'm not saying Berkman will do so, but he's the strongest candidate to do so. He's also getting lots of at bats with the dangerous Willie Taveras (.400 AVG, .432 OBP in the postseason) hitting in front of him. Taveras has a .324 AVG and a .351 OBP against groundball pitchers. Thankfully, the Sox have shut down Craig Biggio so far, and he's isn't that great against groundball pitchers (.248 AVG, .349 OBP).

What to do?

1. Keep Biggio and Taveras off the basepaths. Berkman will get his hits. But if Garland can induce Biggio and Taveras to ground out, he can afford to throw garbage to Berkman (and Ensberg).

2. Late in the game, send in Cotts (and even Marte, if Cotts already has been used) to face Berkman. Make him bat right-handed. He's much better batting left-handed in 2005 (.967 LH OPS vs. .845 RH OPS).

10-25-2005, 09:36 AM
If Garland is pounding them inside and has either the change-up or sinker working, I like our chances.

10-25-2005, 09:49 AM
Don't forget that we have a power right-handed lineup who could very well use the left field porch to their advantage. It's much easier to hit one out there than at Fenway.

Ol' No. 2
10-25-2005, 09:52 AM
You hit the nail on the head. Keep the bases empty when he comes to bat. He's not going to beat you hitting solo HR any more than David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez could.

10-25-2005, 10:20 AM
The key is Tavarez. I've been very impressed with his hitting so far. He's a great outside pitch hitter and we need to start jamming him inside. The other key is to just pitch around Berkman and let Ensberg beat us. Ensberg has one hit in the World Series and it was a solo home run. He's done absolutely nothing else. If Berkman is up and runners are on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs, pitch around him.

10-25-2005, 10:24 AM
I think Konerko's going to hit a couple more bombs in the next 3 (or 2) games. He's a dead pull hitter when it comes to power. I like our chances in Houston. Not to mention the Sox were the best road team in baseball.

The original poster pretty much hit the nail on the head. If you can't stop Berkman, just keep guys off the bases in front of him. I'd rather see a solo home run than a 3 run homer or 2 run double, etc.

Man...it's game 3 and I still find myself saying "the Sox are in the World Series..."

10-25-2005, 10:27 AM
No walks. I know that's simplifying things, but that's my key. Let them hit the ball, they're not exactly an offensive machine. People talk about the Sox getting breaks, Houston has scored a few iffy runs themselves so far.

10-25-2005, 10:36 AM
The key to our pitching thus far as avoiding walks. I wholeheartedly agree that keeping the bases empty for Berkman and Ensburg is crucial. Tavares will get his hits, too, but again, keep the bases empty. No free passes.

Also, we need to get a memo to AJ and Carl. There's no rule that says you have to swing at the first pitch. Pettite could have "bowled" the ball on the first pitch and these guys would have swung. Way too many swing and misses on unquestionable "ball 1" pitches.