Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Huston, We Have a Problem....

What a way to start the season! With the sounds of Western Kentucky buzzer beaters and the sights of Stephan Curry dominance, you were probably way too distracted to realize that Major League baseball got under way this morning. The defending champion Boston Red Sox and the up and coming Oakland A’s got up a wee bit early to commence America’s favorite pastime on international soil.

One person who could care less about his bracket pool performance now is Oakland closer and University of Texas Alum Huston Street. The former college All-American and American League Rookie of the Year got a wake up call this morning in the form of a Brandon Moss 9th-inning, game-tying alarm clock bomb (although it may not be as bad as the wake-up call that fans had to endure with the game starting at 6:10 am eastern time). Moss, a rookie outfielder playing in the stead of a sore J.D. Drew, landed a shot over the right field wall on a 2-2 count to tie the game at 6 and send the game into extra innings where Street would further self-destruct.

In the 10th, manager Bob Geren stuck with Street and chose to intentionally walk “Big Papi” David Ortiz to get to the equally intimidating but cold Manny Ramirez. Boy did that backfire! With two runners on, Ramirez lifted a shot clear into centerfield that was so strong that Ramirez became statuesque at the plate believing he hit the 3-run shot. The ball was a few feet short and caromed off the centerfield wall, but it served the purpose as two runs came in to score and give the Sox a two run lead. Street was immediately pulled and although the Athletics gave the rowdy stadium one last hoorah in the bottom, the two run shot stood strong and gave the defending champs the 6-5 win.

Not quite the start that Oakland wanted out of their closer. Street will return to the states not only with his first blown save, but also his first full-out loss of the season. He finished with an abysmal 16.20 ERA on 3 hits, 3 earned runs, and 1 walk in only 1.2 innings pitched. Not quite the numbers you expect from a former rookie of the year. Not quite the numbers you expect from a guy who suffered only 5 blown saves all of last year, who was dealt only two losses, and who kept a respectable 2.28 ERA.

Don’t get me wrong, going against the Boston Red Sox (who looked like they win it all again) in the Tokyo Dome on March 25th to open the season is no easy task and I have no doubt that Huston Street will brush himself off and have another terrific season, but my high school coach used to tell me, “We want to start the race how we intend to finish it.”

Well here’s to hoping UT legend Huston Street will finish a lot better than he started….

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