Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 4.50) vs Scott Feldman (3-2, 3.02)
I suppose two out of four ain't bad? The Astros came into this four-game set with Baltimore as the hottest team in baseball, and outstanding pitching allowed them to keep that streak going even though the offense slowed. Last night, some cracks in the pitching armor (and still-weak offense) brought an end to Houston's winning streak. This afternoon, the Orioles blew those cracks wide open. Fired by a six-run 6th, Baltimore bombs the Astros 9-4 today, earning a series split and dropping Houston 10 games under .500 again, at 24-34 overall.
On the Mound:
*For five innings, Scott Feldman was at least respectable, keep his Astros mates within 3-1 striking distance. After Manny Machado and the Baltimore 6th, however, Feldman ended up with his worst start since August 12, 2008, when he allowed 12 runs in 2.2 IP. Even then, only half of those runs were earned, so today was a career worst for Feldman in the ER column. Two home runs - including Machado's first career grand slam - dug the deepest portion of the hole, and Feldman finished with a 5.1 IP / 11 H / 9 R / 9 ER / 1 BB / 3 K line, plus 2 HBP and a balk.
*Josh Fields took only four pitches to get the final two outs of the 6th, after Feldman finally gave up the ghost.
*Paul (Not Roger) Clemens earned more frequent flier miles in returning again from OKC (after Brett Oberholtzer was optioned down), and today did just great, fanning 3 in two 3 up, 3 down frames.
*Darin Downs allowed a two-out single in the 9th, but it was of no consequence, as he struck out one in a scoreless inning.
At the Plate:
*Slightly more offense today than in the first three games, with series-high totals in hits (8) and runs (4) for Houston. Unfortunately Baltimore's 6th alone was more than enough to match the Astros' entire output.
*Matt Dominguez had the biggest swing, launching a two-run homer (his 8th) in the 8th off the less-obnoxiously-located Community Partners signs below the train tracks in left. He finished his afternoon 1x4 with a K.
*George Springer responded to two straight nights of 0-fers with a 2x5 day, including a double, a run scored, and 2 K.
*Jose Altuve responded to one 0-fer night with a 1x3 afternoon.
*Mike-Bob Grossman contributed a double and went 1x4.
*Chris Carter drove home Houston's first run with a RBI single in the 4th. He would finish 1x4 with 2 K.
*Jesus Guzman reached base twice and scored once, going 1x3 with a BB and a K.
*Alex Presley only got one AB after coming in to replace Dexter Fowler defensively in the 7th, but he singled and scored on Matty D's big blast.
*Carlos Corporan went hitless at 0x3 with 2 K, but he earned the other Astro RBI on a 7th-inning sac fly.
Houston trailed 2-0 after 2 and 3-0 after 3, but still entered the 6th within 3-1 spitting distance. Then the wheels completely fell off for Scott Feldman. Single Chris Davis, single J.J. Hardy, Single Jonathan Schoop, and the bases were loaded with no outs. Single David Lough, and the score was 4-1. George Springer made a nice running catch on Nick Hundley for the first out of the inning, but that still allowed Hardy to scamper home on the sac fly, making the score 5-1. Feldman then intentionally walked Nick Markakis to re-load the bases, but that move quickly backfired. Manny Machado took a 2-2 sinker almost onto the train tracks in left, earning his first career grand slam in MLB, and nailing Houston's coffin shut in a 9-1 hole.
Man of the Match:
Matt Dominguez. Big fly made up half the offense today.
Goat of the Game:
Scott Feldman. Even the best have their bad days. May this ever be Scott's worst.