Friday, May 30, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G56: Astros v. Orioles

Miguel Gonzalez (3-3, 4.35) vs Brett Oberholtzer (1-6, 5.32)

And the beat goes on (da-da-dum, da-dum, da-dum). If you're looking for further evidence that these Astros just might be a little bit different, consider this: the last time that Houston won 7 games in a row, Brad Mills was a rookie manager. Carlos Lee went 3x5, Pedro Feliz went 3x6, and Angel Sanchez drove in six runs by himself. It was August 3, 2010, Houston destroyed St. Louis 18-4, and Lance Berkman had just played his last game in an Astros uniform six days prior. Not that the 2010 Houston Astros were a great team - they weren't - but they were the last Astros squad to avoid losing 100 games. They didn't even lose 90, finishing at 76-86, before the team fell 40 games further under .500 with rebuilding underway in earnest the next season. By no means are the 2014 Houston Astros a finished product, and even reaching 70 wins would be an enormously surprising accomplishment. But for right now, at least, these Astros are playing the best baseball that Houston has seen in a very long time. No-hit into the 6th inning tonight, and still it didn't matter, as the Astros beat the Orioles 2-1. The win also clinches Houston's first winning month since the 2010 Astros went 14-13 in September. They improve to 24-32 overall.

On the Mound:

*Whatever Brett Oberholtzer found while up in Oklahoma City, he needs to hang onto it. After a 6 IP / 2 ER outing up in Seattle six days ago, Obie matched his best start of the season, holding Baltimore to just one run on four hits over seven innings pitched. His total line: 7 IP / 4 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 1 K.

*Kyle Farnsworth retired the first two batters of the 8th, then walked one before giving way to...

*...Tony Sipp, who was uncharacteristically ineffective, allowing a single to all one batters he faced, but...

*...Chad Qualls came in last and nailed the door shut, striking out two while retiring the last four Oriole hitters in order. Chad earned his fifth save, and he has still not surrendered a run since April 19 - a scoreless stretch covering 14 appearances and 12.2 IP.

At the Plate:

*Aside from a Jonathan Villar walk in the 2nd and a Jason Castro HBP in the 4th, it was all tumbleweeds on the basepaths for the Astros against Miguel Gonzalez until one out in the 6th.

*Jose Altuve (who else?) was the man to finally break through for Houston, busting out an infield single in spite of J.J. Hardy's best effort to catch him. Jose finished 1x4, and swiped his AL-leading 20th base.

*Houston's other four hits all came in the 7th, started by a Matt Dominguez double. Matty D would come around to score and finished the night 1x3.

*Alex Presley DH'd and contributed a single and a TOOTBLAN in the 7th, finishing 1x3.

*Robbie Mike-Bob Grossman finally got the Astros on the board with a RBI double, ending up 1x3 with a run scored.

*Then Jonathan Villar finally broke his 7-game hitless streak in the most timely fashion, with a RBI double of his own for the game-winner. Villar finished 1x2 with a BB, a K, and a CS.

*Pour one out for George Springer tonight, as he and his 11-game hitting streak went 0x4 with 2 K.

Turning Point:

Brett Oberholtzer got the Astros to the 7th inning stretch allowing only one run, but still trailing 1-0 and in line for the loss. Cue Matt Dominguez, who led off the bottom of the 7th with a double against Miguel Gonzalez, for Houston's first hit out of the infield. Chris Carter K'd, then Alex Presley singled and TOOTBLAN'd his way into out #2 at second, while Dominguez moved up to third. On a 1-1 fastball, Robbie Grossman doubled in front of the scoreboard in left, plating Dominguez to tie the score at 1. Then on a 2-2 pitch, Jonathan Villar knocked a ground-rule double into the Astros' bullpen, giving Houston the improbable, beautiful win.

Man of the Match:

Co-MotM here for Brett Oberholtzer and Jonathan Villar. Key performances from both, without which this win could not have happened.

Goat of the Game:

You could pick on any Houston hitter with an 0-fer, or maybe Jason Castro for two passed balls. But the Astros were no-hit until the 6th, got the game-winning RBI from a guy on a 0x26 skid, and they beat an Orioles team that was leading the AL East as recently as 10 days ago. These, as they say, are the kind of games that good teams will find a way to win. The Astros were that good team tonight. I see no goats here.