Both Mr Cosart and Mr Young were coming off short outings in their last starts - 1/3 of an inning and 3 innings respectively. And because it was the MLB.tv Game of the Day, I watched it!! Well, the first three innings, anyhow - then this whole "employment" thing got in the way. Sigh. And stop me if you have heard this before... the Astros were cruising until they turned it over to the bullpen, but the Enemy came back late for a 5-3 walk-off win. Double-sigh.
On the Mound
* Jarred Cosart, he of the "of course I am going to regress" tweets (along with other, less savoury ones) was the victim of some regression-for-the-better. Yes, everyone, he is not a regular 1/3rd of an inning, 7 ER kind of pitcher. In fact, today he was quite good!! 6 2/3, 4H, 2R (both earned), 4K, 3BB. 73 of 104 pitches for strikes. 2 run home run on an elevated 94mph fastball thrown on a 3-2 count to Kyle Seager (Kyle Seager, remember that name...) Looking at Castro's glove movement, he missed up and in the middle of the plate, and Seager knocked the ball to RF, about 3 or 4 rows back.
Through three innings, Cosart's fastball was generally located down, with excellent cutting action. He was pumping easy gas in the mid-90's. Lots and lots of fastballs is what I saw. Twenty-one swinging strikes versus 63 balls put-in-play for a very pleasant looking ratio of 1 swing-and-miss for every 2-swings-with-contact. Eight ground balls versus 8 fly balls. Generally, excellent start!
* Finishing the 7th was our old friend, Raul "Exxon" Valdes (yes, I know "Valdes" is not spelt right). Two pitches, one ground-ball.
* Chad Qualls threw a 14 pitch 8th inning, with 2K's, both swinging. But because he has been voted off the "closer committee", Bo turned to....
* Josh Fields for the 9th. And... less good. One-third of an inning, 3ER on a single-single-strike out- home run. And who hit the home run?? Kyle Seager!! He of the .156/.280/.219 batting line (as of last night). Kyle Seager, whose generous dropped Zunino throw let us score 4 unearned on The King 2 nights prior. Well, Kyle giveth and Kyle taketh away, and today he took away in a very rude and upsetting fashion. He sold out for a first-pitch fastball, got a 95mph low one in the LHB's wheelhouse (missed in, Castro set up on the outside), and that will be the ballgame.
I do want to highlight some cryptic remarks made by a seemingly increasingly grumpy Bo Porter afterward. Of course, we all remember his 18 second reply on the Dominguez TOOTBLAN, ably covered at AC by the talented Mr Y. After the game, the following passages were recorded on MLB.com:
It was only a day earlier Porter explained to reporters how he had wanted to Fields to get himself better prepared to enter games by pretending to face hitters while warning up in the bullpen and again throwing his warm-up pitches on the mound prior to his outings.
Porter was asked if he thought Fields was ready.
"I don't know how you could not be ready," he said. "He had a whole half an inning. As soon as the last out in the eighth inning was made, the phone call was made and Fields got the ninth."
Without context, this is a little difficult to interpret. I recall something similar being written a few days prior, and this may have been a response to a query about what was said back at the previous pressor. Or, Josh Fields still ain't ready when he comes in to pitch. Interesting... bears watching.
But Bo seems to be calling out the players a lot more this year...
At the Plate
* I know it is going to be easy to hang this one on Josh Fields, but this was also a day of missed opportunities for the offence. Chris Young was throwing in the mid... 80's, a full 10mph slower than Mr Cosart. And whilst velocity isn't everything, and whilst acknowledging that a 6'10" Chris Young is going to have a slightly different release point than other non-Randy-Johnson-Jon-Rauch-pitchers, the Astros did waste some opportunities. In the first, Fowler walked, and promptly got caught stealing on the next pitch. Marc Krauss walked in the 2nd, advanced to 2nd on a balk, then was stranded by 2K's. Leadoff walk in the 3rd, followed by K, FO, walk, 2-out 2 run-Castro double, walk, FO. 1 out walk in the 4th. Retired in order in the fifth and sixth. HR, pop-up, ground-rule double, GO with runner advancing, FO in the 7th. 2 quick outs, then a walk and a single in the 8th, but both runners stranded on a K looking. Single, bunt, GO, walk, K looking in the ninth.
That all adds up to the last out with RISP in the 3rd, 7th, 8th and 9th innings. One 2-out hit could well have changed the contest.
* Fowler 1-3, 2BB; Castro 1-5, 2B, 2RBI; Carter 1-3, BB, HR, RBI; Dominguez 1-3, BB and Villar 1-3, 2B were the best offensive performers...
* ... But they were more than adequately counter-balanced by Springer (0-3, BB), Krauss (0-2, BB) and Presley (1-4, 2K), forming a large black hole of suck at 4, 5, 6 (respectively) in the order.
* As a team, 1-8 RISP, 9 LOBbies, 1 CS.
* But what a day to suck. Pine tar at a Yanks-Sawx game! Nothing else matters!!
This is pretty easy. The Astros were tied or ahead for 26 out of 27 innings this series. The turning point was right at the end. Kyle Seager, prior to this game, had not homered in 43 games. Sigh.
Goat of the Game
Um, me. Yesterday, I wrote:
"Josh Fields earned his second save in as many nights by striking out Robinson Cano on a full count, and retiring Corey Hart on a line drive to centre, and Kyle Seager on a soft grounder. He now sports an ERA of 2.00, FIP of 1.93"
Clearly, I am handing out too many plaudits. I apologise. Update!!
He now sports an ERA of
Tomorrow, the Astros take their particular brand of offensive awesome back to MMP for a series against the A's. Control lefties, Kazmir and Oberholtzer at 8ET Game 1 (Thurs), not Cy Young contender Jesse Chavez v Brad Peacock at 8ET Game 2 (Fri), Dan Straily and Dallas Keuchal 7ET Game 3 (Saturday), Tommy Milone and TBA (perhaps Filthy McHugh!) 2ET Sunday.
Sheesh, I can't see this going wrong....