Sometimes it’s tough being an Astros fan in Arkansas. Even though our local team, the Arkansas Travelers, has been the AA affiliate of the Angels for 11 years now, the entire state is still deep Cardinals country. I’ve been in this state for 12 years now myself, and I’ve met exactly two other Astros fans here. I’ve learned to love the Travs in their own way, and Minor League Baseball in general, but my heart will always remain in Houston. The one perk I get here is that the Travs play in the Texas League alongside Houston’s AA affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. The Hooks typically come to town twice a year, so I always try to make it out for at least one of their games to see the Astros of the future.
We were out of town the first time that Corpus came here this year, so this past Friday was our chosen date. It turned out to be a lucky choice for me, as Thursday’s game was rained out, so our Friday night tickets became good for a Friday afternoon doubleheader. Our seats were in the front row right behind the Travs’ dugout, and I brought our camera along to document the action.
Unfortunately for the Hooks, they lost both games this night – Game 1 4-2 in a pre-determined seven innings, and Game 2 6-2 after a sudden thunderstorm ended the game at five. Growing up with the Astrodome, this was my first live experience with a rain delay or a rainout, but it was a fun day at the ballpark regardless. Dickey-Stephens Park (named in part for Hall of Fame catcher and Arkansas native Bill Dickey) sits on the north bank of the Arkansas River, and it’s a great place to see a ballgame.
Astros win again! And Pirates lost again, so Houston is now 1.5 games up from last place, and only half a game behind Milwaukee for 4th in the NL Central. Small steps. Crazy stats: previously punchless Houston is #2 in NL team batting average for the month of June. And the Astros are tied with the Dodgers as the hottest teams in baseball right now (both 9-3 over their last 12 games). This evening it’s Brett Myers against should-still-be-an-Astro Andy Pettitte; a win in any of these three games against the Yanks will put the 2010 Astros back on pace with the 2005 team. At this point five years ago, the World Series-bound Astros were busy getting swept by Baltimore. (Yeah… it was ugly.)