Wednesday, June 26, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 150



Death of Kile saddens former teammates

Astros Report

Aditya Godse

The Astros steered things back toward normalcy Sunday afternoon as those closest to Darryl Kile returned to the lineup and, for a few hours, attempted to dry their tears and set aside their smothering grief.

Kile, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and a former Astro himself, died Saturday from what is believed to have been a heart attack. Astros Jeff Bagwell, Brad Ausmus and Craig Biggio did not start Saturday, though they all played at least part of the game.

On at least one level, they succeeded -- they played. If nothing else, it all had a familiar look and feel.

Once more, the starting pitching dug the Astros an early hole, and the Seattle Mariners rode seven impressive innings by Joel Piñeiro and an array of offensive stars to a 10-5 victory over the Astros in front of 32,584 at Minute Maid Park.

Afterward, the Astros milled around a quiet clubhouse, looking only slightly less dazed than the day before when they learned their former teammate had been found dead in his Chicago hotel room.

The death of former teammate and close friend Darryl Kile hit too close to home for the Astros, many of whom had to choke back tears when speaking of the St. Louis pitcher late Saturday night.

Some, like first baseman Jeff Bagwell, who drove in the game-winning run in Saturday's game against the Mariners with a pinch single in the 12th inning, couldn't speak at all.

Sunday, Bagwell addressed the press in regard to respecting the memory of his friend Kile. Things probably won't get better for a few days.

"The memories that I have, the memories that I've shared with other people -- I loved Darryl Kile," Bagwell said.

The Astros were given the day off Monday to collect themselves before the ball club begins a three-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday.

By then, several players will be preparing to attend Kile's funeral, and everyone else will still be coping with his stunning death.

The crowd of over 32,000 at Minute Maid Park saw the Mariners win the rubber match of the inaugural Interleague series between the clubs.

With Sunday's victory, the Mariners took two games to win the series. The first win came Friday when the Mariners shocked the Astros with an 8-0 win.

The loss was the 13th in 20 games for the Astros dropping the team's record 32-42.

Almost as bad as the number of defeats recently has been the margin of the losses.

In their last four losses, the Astros have been outscored 33-7 as the bottom part of their 20-something starting rotation has gotten hammered with regularity. In those four losses, starters have finished five innings just once and compiled a 12.27 ERA.

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell were not in the starting lineup Saturday against the Mariners to mark the first time the long-standing duo sat out of a game at the same time since October 1, 2000 against the Milwaukee Brewers in the last contest of the season.

It was the 12th time since 1992 that neither Astros mainstay was in the starting lineup.

Work ethic?

Is Jimy Williams happy with the Astros' record? No.

But when it comes to addressing the team's overall work ethic, he has nothing but praise for the club.

"We're fine. We're not fine in the standings, but from a work ethic, you can't ask anymore than what we're trying to do," Williams said. "I can't say anything bad about them except that the bottom line is we're not winning ballgames."

Newcomer Kirk Saarloos had a mini-fan club in the stands for his start against the Mariners Sunday. Double-A teammates from Saarloos' old team, the Round Rock Express, came to see him play.

John Buck, Mike Rosamond and Chris Burke were in attendance at Minute Maid Park to watch Saarloos, who was promoted to the Majors last Tuesday.

The threesome, taking time off during the Double-A All-Star break, did their former teammate a favor by driving Saarloos' car to Houston from Round Rock.

The Astros will enjoy a day off Monday, their last day off before the All-Star break begins on July 8 and the Diamondbacks visit Houston to begin a three-game series Tuesday.

The pitching rotation will begin with right-hander Tim Redding, who stands at 3-4 with a 5.27 ERA, facing the Diamondbacks' right-hander Curt Schilling who holds a 12-3 record this season and has a 3.28 ERA.

Right-handed pitcher Wade Miller will pitch against Randy Johnson Wednesday.

Miller is 3-2 this season with a 5.20 ERA, while Johnson has an 11-2 record and a 2.55 ERA.

Thursday will see southpaw Carlos Hernandez battling Rick Helling in the closing game of this week's series.

Hernandez is 5-3 for the season and holds a 4.43 ERA. Helling has a 4.58 ERA with a 7-5 record

In May, Redding compiled a 3-0 record and a 2.31 ERA in six games, but in his four June outings, he's 0-2 with an 8.27 ERA.

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