Scott Feldman (2-1, 2.63) versus Tyler Skaggs (3-1, 4.53)
The Angels even the series with a 9-3 win over a sloppy Houston outfit tonight. The Astros made errors in the first and fifth inning, both of which were three-run innings for the Angels, to allow five unearned runs. The resultant hole was too deep to climb out of, and the Angels cruised late to an easy win.
On the Mound:
Scott Feldman never seemed to have his best stuff, but was also doomed after the first inning. He seemed to struggle to keep the ball down all night. Feldman got two outs on 7 pitches in the first, then a fielding error by 1B Chris Carter on his 10th pitch opened the floodgates: walk, walk, 2RBI-single, RBI-single, strikeout (33 pitches). Feldman then continued his struggles in the second: double, single, caught stealing, sacrifice fly, double, groundout. He gave up a run on an infield single in the fourth which hit him square in the ankle and ricocheted past first base. When Feldman started the fifth with a double-single-reached on error sequence, his night was done.
Darin Downs relieved, and continued madly digging in the fifth. With men on first and second, he allowed them to move up on a wild pitch, then walked catcher Hank Conger. Fielder's choice (out at home), strikeout, then another walk, and Downs' night was done. Jerome Williams relieved, and allowed an infield single to Mike Trout (off home plate) to allow the third run, and the Astros finished the eighth in an 8-1 hole.
On the up-side, Josh Fields walked one and struck out two in a scoreless eighth. He looked good doing so, too.
Note is made that the Astros - not a generally well-rated defensive team - had an interesting defensive alignment partly forced by the illness of LJ Hoes (who wasn't at the ballpark) and the presence of a lefty on the mound. Corporan was catching, Jesus Guzman was in left, and Chris Carter at first. Jason Castro DH'd. The three mentioned position players all contributed to the Angels run scoring effort - Corporon with two passed balls, Guzman by not being able to run a double down in the third and allowing Collin Cowgill to tag and take second on a routine FB in the fourth, and Chris Carter with a fielding error on a wickedly spinning Albert Pujols infield-nubber in the first.
At the Plate:
First, the good news: The Astros managed their tenth straight game with nine or more hits tonight - the first time that has happened since June 2007. The top four in the order were all on base at least twice each, with Jose Altuve (3-5, 2B) and Dexter Fowler (2-4) continuing their hot form. Jason Castro had a solid night (2-3, SF), and George Springer went 1-4, with a walk.
Then the bad news: The hits were somewhat spread around throughout the game, with the major cluster of hits coming when the outcome of the game was all-but-decided. Two in the fourth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh, three in the eighth, and one in the ninth - no rally material there. Tyler Skaggs was strong through 7, then Mike Scioscia brought in Micheal Kohn (who had made one appearance in the week) for some mop-up work. The Astros strung together three hits and a walk, managing two runs for their best rally of the night, but it was too late to matter.
The bottom five of the order went a collective 1-17 with a walk. Matt Dominguez had a sacrifice fly.
Arrgghh. The damn first inning. Grrr.
Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve had an excellent night at the plate, and also made a nice grab in the eighth to retire CJ Cron - a play that only he had the range to get to.
Goat of the Game:
Grrr. Who knows what would have happened if Feldman had retired the side in the first. After the error, however, any fastball command he had evaporated (Steve Sparks thought that he never had any command) and he struggled the rest of the night. Co-Goats to Feldman, Chris Carter and Jonathan Villar, the latter two for their errors and poor nights with the bat.