HOUSTON — Chris Jakubauskas is in Methodist Hospital, across town from Minute Maid Park, sore and scared after being struck in the head by a line drive during tonight’s game.
Paul Maholm knows exactly how Jakubauskas must feel. Maholm also knows the challenge Jakubauskas will face when he’s able to get back on a pitcher’s mound.
“It brought flashbacks,” Maholm said. “When I saw it happen, I had to go off to the side and kind of gather myself. It’s scary.”
On May 15, 2004, Maholm was struck in the face by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lynchburg. The ball broke Maholm’s nose and shattered bones near his eyes.
Maholm returned to action July 27, 2004, making a rehab start in a rookie league game. He finished the season with low-A Hickory, losing his final two starts.
Maholm believes that, after he heals physically, Jakubauskas will be mentally ready to pitch.
“At first, you might be a little jumpy,” Maholm said. “But once you get back, it’s baseball. You don’t see (that kind of injury) happen very much. It’s an unfortunate part of the game. You’ve just got to keep pitching like it’ll never happen.”
— Reliever D.J. Carrasco came in to pitch after Jakubauskas left the field. Carrasco said it’s the third time he’s been called upon in that situation, though this is the first time he’s seen a pitcher hit in the head by a liner.
“It’s always a tough situation to be in, for several reasons,” Carrasco said. “You’re warming up in front of (the other team), so they can see every pitch you throw. Your adrenaline’s going. It’s always in the back of your mind, this guy just took one off the head, so you’re gun-shy a little bit. You want to hurry up and get it going, and it gets the best of you. You think you’re ready, but your body’s not there yet.”
Carrasco gave up a two-run double to Hunter Pence, the first batter he faced. In the fourth inning, the Astros scored a run on four straight singles off Carrasco.
“It’s tough, but you’ve got to do it,” Carrasco said. “You’ve got to come in and try to throw strikes.”
— Daniel McCutchen thought for a moment he might be called upon to pitch when Jakubauskas went down. McCutchen did work the seventh inning, giving up Pedro Feliz’s leadoff double before setting down the next three batters.
“I was ready to go by the seventh,” McCutchen. “It must have been tough for D.J. There’s that sick, sick feeling in your stomach.”
McCutchen first met Jakubauskas during minicamp. They formed a bond, having both played for the University of Oklahoma, and went golfing together a few times during spring training.
“It (the injury) brings you back to this being a game and how important other things are,” McCutchen said.
McCutchen pitched one inning tonight, throwing 13 pitches. He did not throw his regularly scheduled bullpen session today — the relief stint takes its place — and likely will remain on track to start Tuesday in Milwaukee.