My childhood friend John Reed and I spent three hours at Globe Life Field in Arlington on Monday night watching the team we grew up in Houston cheering for at the Astrodome. The Astros were in town playing the Rangers, and by the time we were leaving just after 10 p.m., the loooong, slow game was almost three hours old, just going into the bottom of the sixth inning and our team had mashed its way to a 13-1 lead.
As I told John, I can’t recall ever leaving a game that early, but I also can’t remember one dragging … along … so … slowly. He wakes up at 6 every morning for his tech job with the American Airlines credit union and I needed to drive him home to east Fort Worth, so we decided to call it a night three and a half innings early. The guy is amazing — he also rides his bike up to 25 miles at lunchtime every day!
The Astros scored nine runs in the first three innings, which took a couple of hours. By the time it finally ended after I’d dropped John off, the game had lasted 3 hours and 53 minutes, with the Astros adding two more runs on solo bombs to win 15-1. It was a total turnaround from the Astros-Rangers game Kay, my friend Roger, his son and I went to last month, where it was the Rangers who rolled 13-2. The Houston bunch leads the season series 12-4, with three games to go.
Aside from all the runs they scored and the five home runs they hit, the Astros made major-league history — or, rookie Jose Siri, who made his first ML start, subbing for injured Michael Brantley in left field, did. The 26-year-old, called up Sept. 2 from the Triple-A Sugar Land Skeeters, is the first player since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 to have at least five ribbies and two homers in his first start — and the first with four-plus hits and five RBIs in his debut.
Siri went 4-for-5, with a single in the second, a two-run homer off the facing of the second deck in left in the third, a two-run single in the sixth to make it 13-1, and a solo homer in the eighth after John and I had left for the Astros’ final run.
The Astros signed Siri, who’d spent eight seasons in the minors, to a minor-league deal as a free agent last spring. He played in 94 games for the Skeeters, hitting .318 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs to earn his September call-up. He got his first major-league hit Saturday after replacing Brantley against the Angels when the veteran left with knee soreness.
I hadn’t noticed this from where we were sitting just to the left of home plate in the second deck, but I read that when he gets on base, Siri celebrates by pantomiming an archer shooting an arrow — a flourish he’s used since he was a kid in the Dominican Republic.
It was a sparsely attended game — with all the empty seats, I’m shocked at the announced official attendance of 18,903. There were the customary boos whenever the Astros’ Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa or Alex Bregman came to the plate, and I heard one lady behind us yell “cheater” when Bregman was announced. But as always when Houston’s in town, there were plenty of Astros fans in attendance, with spots of orange around the ballpark and cheers when they were pouring on the offense.
With the regular season heading down the stretch, the Astros are 84-59, closing in on their fourth AL West title in the past five seasons, holding a 6.5-game lead over Seattle and 7 over Oakland with 19 left. I’m truly not sure what’s ahead for the Astros in the postseason, because of their inconsistency and the fact they’ll likely face a formidable first-round opponent in the White Sox. Anything can happen. But if all their previously injured players stay healthy and the pieces are in place, there’s no reason to think they can’t go to the ALCS for a fifth straight year and compete for a World Series title for the third time in those five.
I wanted to close with some backstory about John and me. I wrote about John a couple of years ago, when I found him after not having seen him since we were friends at St. Matthew Lutheran School in Houston in the late 1960s/early ’70s. We met in 1966, when I was bumped up to first grade at age 5 after the first boring weeks of kindergarten, and we became close friends and fellow Astros fans, along with Paul Sweitzer.
In December 1971, halfway through sixth grade, my family moved to Conroe, and although I reconnected with Paul about 10 years ago, neither of us knew where John was. I finally decided I was going to try to find him and, through some internet searches, I found what I thought was him, and he happened to be living in Fort Worth.
Kay and I drove one day to the address I’d found and it was a gated community, where the guard called the number. It turned out to be John, and he and his wife Lisa were on their way out of town. The guard told him this guy Frank Christlieb, who said he was a childhood friend, had come by to see him. Even after 48 years, John remembered me, and the four of us soon ended up getting together for dinner — and by crazy coincidence, John and Lisa are TCU Horned Frogs like Kay.
That summer John, Kay and I drove to Houston to meet up with several other St. Matthew Lutheran classmates to attend an Astros game. He’s an awesome fellow and I’m so glad we’ve been able to resume our friendship after so long.
Oh, I almost forgot: GO ASTROS!!