Saturday, April 26, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G24: Astros v. Athletics

Jesse Chavez (1-0, 1.38) vs Brad Peacock (0-2, 6.14)

If you are among the 60% of Astros fans that can't get CSN Houston - be thankful for small mercies. If you are one of the unlucky few choosing to still watch, though, you may bear witness to the breathtaking display of a Major League team falling apart at the seams. Oakland jumped to an early 4-0 lead, and you knew the Astros wouldn't come back, yet somehow they did, tying the game at 5. But this was a day of Bad Things for Houston, so it could never end well: 7-run Oakland 9th, Jason Castro plunked, and Bo Porter ejected again. A's win 12-5, Astros fall to 7-17, and it's difficult to recall an uglier series in recent memory. And they still have two games to go.

On the Mound:

*Is a run really unearned if it results from the pitcher's own error? An errant pickoff throw by Brad Peacock leads to this question, but Jonathan Villar earlier helped with an error of his own. So Peacock gave up 5 runs in 5 innings, but only 3 were officially "earned" - however arguable the definition may be. Line: 5 IP / 5 H / 5 R / 3 ER / 6 BB / 2 K.

*The bullpen actually wasn't bad... until the 9th. Again. Jose Cisnero led the way, in his 2014 Houston debut, allowing two walks and a hit against two K's in 1.1 scoreless.

*Raul Valdes actually did well too, fanning one in 1.1 perfect.

*Chad Qualls was an adventure, allowing two singles before getting the final out of the 8th.

*Then Josh Fields completely imploded in the 9th. A HBP (Brandon Moss), three singles, a double, and five runs allowed - all earned - without retiring a single batter.

*But wait, there's more. Anthony Bass allowed two more runs on a double and a homer, while managing to record two outs, but then he hit Brandon Moss for the second time in the same inning. Then walked a batter and got a fly out to mercifully end the frame.

At the Plate:

*But those two Brandon Moss HBPs - and other recent history, obviously - led to one Fernando Abad throwing behind Jason Castro's rear in the bottom of the 9th. For which Castro had words that cannot be repeated in polite company, but after which Abad remained in the game, about which Bo Porter argued and was ejected. In fairness to Bo, how Abad stays in after that, I do not understand.

*Three more errors tonight - Villar's (fielding) and Peacock's (pickoff), and also one by George Springer (fielding) in the midst of Oakland's 9th Inning March to the Sea.

*But incidentally, Houston also set a season high for hits, with 11 tonight. Jose Altuve was again atop the list, going 3x5 with a 2B, a R, and a RBI.

*Chris Carter was 2x4 with a 2B, a R, and a K.

*Besides his error, Jonathan Villar doubled and went 1x3 with a R, a SAC, and a K.

*Dexter Fowler also doubled, going 1x4 with a BB and a K. He's now hit in the last 6 straight games, and 7 of the last 8.

*Before Fernando Abad painted a bullseye on his butt in the 9th, Jason Castro went 1x4 with a RBI and 2 K.

*Matt Dominguez had the other RBI - as the Astros' other two runs were unearned - going 1x4 with a R and a K.

*George Springer broke his 4-game hitless streak, going 1x4 with a BB and 3 K.

*Alex Presley had the other hit, going 1x3 with a run scored.

Turning Point:

Maybe the 9th? You think? The game had been tied 5-5 since Houston scored 4 in the 4th, and then Josh Fields began the 9th by hitting Brandon Moss on a 1-2 count. Back-to-back-to-back singles followed, loading and then clearing the bases, with an assist from a bobbled ball by George Springer in right. Nick Punto doubled, putting runners on second and third, still with no outs, and Bo brought in Anthony Bass to replace Fields. Bass' sequence went ground out (RBI), double (RBI), ground out, then Josh Donaldson's third 2-run homer of the series. Which brought Brandon Moss up to the plate again, and Bass got him down 0-2, before hitting him for the second time in the inning. A walk and a flyout and the inning was over, but a 5-5 dogfight was transformed into a 12-5 slaughter, and that set the stage for theatrics in the bottom of the 9th.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve again.

Goat of the Game:

Josh Fields. But you could take your pick, if you like.