Craig Biggio did a lot of things yesterday, but one thing he didn't do was get hit by a pitch for the 286th time in his career. He did, however, hit his 4th career grand slam - the 287th homer of his career in the 6th inning to break open a tie game and lead the Astros to a 7-4 victory.
Biggio's other big moment yesterday was an afternoon press conference to officially announce his retirement following this season. His own message along with responses of a couple of hundred fans is over here. Biggio's announcement doesn't really come as a surprise, but it does bring new urgency and intrigue to those couple of things he has left to do on the major league baseball field. The Astros have 62 games left on the schedule, and while in most seasons that would be plenty of time for Craig Biggio to find 3 pitches to get hit by, it now seems like a very small number of games. 62 games - but with Biggio stepping to the plate without an arm-guard, and the Astros promising to give the kids more playing time and Biggio more rest. The Astros youth movement has been hampered by injuries which my force that playing time back in Biggio's direction, but the fact remains that this plunk chase just got a dumptruck full of suspense dumped on top of it.
Just 3 to go - it would seem like so little to ask if we didn't know that there have been 350 players in Major League history who had over 500 plate appearances and never got hit by 3 pitches in their whole career. Can the man who has already given so much to the Houston Astros give up his body 3 more times, or will he spend his remain games waving to crowds, and adding to those 3,016 hits, 287 homers, 661 doubles, and most importantly to him, 1451 Astros wins in games Biggio has played in.
But this site will be looking for those 3. 3 shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be 3. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Okay, 4 or 5 would be great too, but 3 is the magic number.
Tonight, the Astros will be facing Dodgers pitcher Derek Lowe. Lowe spent the early part of his career hanging around a pitching staff featuring Pedro Martinez and Tim Wakefield, who have hit a combined 279 batters in their careers, but their influence hasn't rubbed off too much on Derek Lowe. Lowe has hit 53 batters in his career but only 11 since leaving Boston for the Dodgers, and only 1 this season.
Today is also the 10th anniversary of Biggio's 100th career plunk - thrown by Jeff Juden on July 25, 1997. Two years after that, he got plunked by Andy Ashby on July 25, 1999 for plunk number 151. Unfortunately, that means the Dodgers don't have anyone on their pitching staff who can plunk Biggio today because none of them have the same first and last initial. (Okay, we'll let them break the trend this one time - but maybe they could make a roster move?)