Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G72: Astros @ Nationals

Dallas Keuchel (8-3, 2.38) vs Tanner Roark (5-4, 2.92)

Missed opportunities early, rallying too little, too late. And an uncharacteristically poor outing from Dallas Keuchel on the mound. Depending on how you feel about the Angels, Royals, and Orioles, it could be argued that the Astros got their first test tonight against a serious playoff contender since they stopped being suck sometime in mid-May. (Though in fairness, If The Season Ended Today, KC and LA would be in, while the Nats would be out.) For most of the night, Houston looked outmatched, trailing 6-1 after 7 innings on the strength of poor pitching and untimely hitting. Then a 4-run rally in the 8th showed that the boys don't quit, so that may be your positive takeaway tonight. But the ultimate result was unchanged, and the Astros lose 6-5. It is Houston's third loss in four games, and they fall to 32-40.

On the Mound:

*Kid Keuchy tonight was not the Kid Keuchy we've come to count on. Season highs in runs and walks paired with a season low in innings, making this pretty plainly Keuchel's worst all-around start this year, and (obviously) ending his "quality start" streak at 7. A trio of RBI doubles certainly didn't help, so his final line looked thus: 5 IP / 6 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 4 BB / 4 K.

*Darin Downs tonight was not the Darin Downs we've come to count on, either. While he technically left the game with the score unchanged, both baserunners he left behind would score soon after, so his own scoreless outings streak is stopped at 9. Darin officially finished with a walk, a single, and two runs allowed (both earned) in 0.1 IP.

*The venerable pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth was the man responsible for letting Downs' runners in, serving up Anthony Rendon's second RBI double of the night on a 2-1 sinker. Farnsworth then "settled in" for a scoreless inning thereafter, featuring a walk, a wild pitch, and one K.

*Jerome Williams finally had a scoreless outing! Maybe that's your other positive takeaway from tonight. He struck out both batters he faced in the 7th.

*Tony Sipp had a single, a sac bunt, and a strikeout in the 8th.

*Josh Zeid then struck out Jayson Werth to end Washington's final turn at bat.

At the Plate:

*Houston's biggest positive tonight clearly has to be the return of Jose Altuve, who came back trying to make up for lost time. Two doubles, two RBI, and he's still leading MLB in hits (94) following a 4x5 night with a run scored.

*The return of Jose Altuve meant the return of the second head of Houston's OBP monster atop the lineup, and first head Dexter Fowler also did his part, going 2x5 with a R and a RBI.

*Matt Dominguez has a four-game hit streak, and a three-game multi-hit streak, since his awful Arizona game (and hugs from his coaches). Tonight Matty D was 2x5 with a double, a R and a RBI.

*Jonathan Villar, too, was 2x5 with a R and a RBI, like Fowler and Dominguez before him.

*George Springer broke his three-game hitless streak by going 2x4 with a walk.

*Jason Castro was 1x4 with a run scored, a BB, and 2 K.

*Jonathan Singleton went 1x5 with a K.

*And with a return to weird NL rules, it's worth noting that Dallas Keuchel went 0x1 with a walk at the plate.

Turning Point:

Washington's winning runs scored on Rendon's double off Farnsworth in the 6th, but Houston lost this game on a huge missed chance in the 4th. With the Astros down 4-0, Jose Altuve led off with a single. Then George Springer singled, moving Altuve to second. Then Jon Singleton singled, stacking the bases with none out against Tanner Roark. Jason Castro couldn't come through, striking out, but Matt Dominguez got lucky next, stroking an infield single off Roark's heel that brought home Altuve to make it 4-1. Bases still loaded, still only one out, but Jonathan Villar flied out too shallow to bring home another run, and Robbie Grossman struck out to end the threat.

Man of the Match:

Jose Altuve. His two-out, two-run double in the 8th put Houston's comeback on the cusp, but it was not to be.

Goat of the Game:

Just one more timely hit from any of many hitters could have made the difference tonight, but this one really rests on Dallas Keuchel. It wasn't a disaster start, but it still wasn't good.