Tonight’s Astros game against the Pirates provides one of the most interesting pitching match-ups in recent memory. Wandy Rodriguez will take the mound at Minute Maid Park but this time he won’t be wearing an Astros uniform. Wandy will be making his Pirates debut in a familiar setting against the men he called teammates only a few short days ago.
Rodriguez will be opposed by Armando Galarraga, who will be making his Astros debut. Galarraga will be called up from AAA Oklahoma City to fill the rotation spot that was previously occupied by Wandy. You may remember Galarraga as the pitcher who authored the imperfect game a couple of years ago. While pitching for the Detroit Tigers in 2010, Galarraga successfully retired all 27 Cleveland Indians batters he faced. But a bad call by first base umpire Jim Joyce on the 27th batter robbed Galarraga of perfection and a place in history.
Galarraga took it all in stride, grinning in disbelief at the blown call and retiring the next batter to complete the shutout. Joyce was more than apologetic after seeing video of the play. The two would eventually co-author a book titled Nobody’s Perfect.
Since that fateful June day in Detroit Galarraga has been unable to recapture the magic. The big right-hander would win on two of ten decisions to finish out the 2010 season. The Tigers would then trade him to Arizona in the off-season. Galarraga would go 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA for the Diamondbacks in 2011 before being designated for assignment.
The Baltimore Orioles signed Galarraga to a minor league deal during the winter but he was released at the end of Spring Training. The Astros then took a flier on the 30 year-old by signing him to a minor league deal in May. Galarraga has started nine games for the AAA RedHawks, going 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
Houston fans are hoping Galarraga can rediscover the form that he used to post a 13-7 record and a 1.192 WHIP as a rookie with the Tigers in 2008. The Astros would love nothing more than hanging a loss on their former teammate Rodriguez to end an eleven game losing streak. To add insult to injury the struggling Astros have blown a ninth inning lead in three of the last four games.
Someone will have to be removed from the active roster to make room for Galarraga. Yesterday I forecast a possible D.L. stint for one of the bullpen pitchers to make room for reliever Chuckie Fick. As it turns out, Enerio Del Rosario was sent to the minors. It was also announced that Francisco Cordero is nursing a toe injury. Sure Coco, whatever you say. Cordero has been personally responsible for two of the three blown leads this week and is definitely a candidate for a vacation.