HOUSTON — Jamie Moyer looked out from the bench, a sightless stare, before trudging back to the clubhouse Saturday night. Sometimes dreams, no matter how vivid, are not enough.
The 49-year-old entered the clubhouse nearly four hours before first pitch. He wore spectacles and carried his notebook with scouting report in hand. He stood on history's welcome mat and the door slammed in his face.
In his first attempt to become the oldest pitcher to win a major-league game, Moyer was punished for mistakes and undermined by sloppy defense as the Rockies fell 7-3 to the Astros at Minute Maid Ballpark.
"This game will humble you," Moyer said Saturday afternoon. "Believe me, I know."
A day of quips about his age ended with poignant questions. Can Moyer's body hold up every fifth day? And more importantly, can he pitch effectively enough to warrant that opportunity? Moyer is a baseball anomaly. He doesn't rely on power, unless you count solar.
Location determines his success. As the numbers popped on the scoreboard, TV screens and iPads across the country, it was like a snowman at The Masters.
This wasn't going to be his night. The Astros' Jordan Schafer led off with a home run after he nearly broke his right index on a bunt attempt. Schafer rifled a 78-mph fastball into the right-field seats. In the fourth inning, J.D. Martinez hit a home run to left field. Neither was alive when Moyer made his debut in 1986.
That's why Elias tracks his starts like NASA does the Space Shuttle. The home runs were the 512th and 513th Moyer has allowed, extending his major-league record. It's not the kind of history Moyer had in mind.
"I didn't come back to make one start. I want to be a contributor for this team on and off the field," Moyer said. "It's never been about numbers for me."
Manager Jim Tracy pulled Moyer after 65 pitches. He allowed four runs, three earned in five innings. When Moyer works, he paints with a small brush. It's also necessary for the defense to color between the lines. The Rockies were clumsy and awkward.
With the Astros leading 1-0, Brian Bixler hit a slow roller to third baseman Chris Nelson, who earned a starting job for his glove. He fielded the ball cleanly, but fired wide of Todd Helton at first base. Marco Scutaro retrieved the ricochet and bounced a one-hopper off Bixler's back at second. Martinez followed with a two-run home run, swatting a 76-mph offering into the left-field seats.
Scutaro committed his second error moments later. It was a snapshot of a flawed performance. After Carlos Gonzalez's leadoff double in the fourth, the left-fielder was erased at the plate on the contact play, an easy mark on Troy Tulowitzki's groundball to short.
It was the lone scoring chance against Astros starter Lucas Harrell. The right-hander beat out Livan Hernandez for a roster spot, and turned in his best performance. He muzzled the Rockies for seven innings, allowing three hits, while not walking a single batter.
Colorado avoided a shutout with Michael Cuddyer's first home run. Tulowitzki added an RBI-triple in the ninth.
History was left to Jack Quinn, still the oldest man to win a big-league game.
Troy E. Renck: 303-954-1294 or firstname.lastname@example.org