Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.98) vs Gio Gonzalez (3-4, 4.62)
Welp. If you're gonna get swept, at least make it just a two-game series, right? It may be unfair to say "Return of the Goat Pen" after three subpar games, so I won't. I don't honestly believe the Astros' bullpen has turned the corner into horridness again. But the truth remains that Houston has now lost three games in a row for the first time since they lost four May 20-23, and the bullpen has allowed the deciding runs each time. Each of those three losses has been by just one run, including tonight's 6-5 final. The Astros drop to nine games under .500 at 32-41.
On the Mound:
*Both starters only lasted five innings apiece tonight, but Scott Feldman allowed half the runs of his counterpart, so he officially won the battle. The Nationals managed plenty of traffic against Feldman, as he only had one 1-2-3 inning (the 4th), and in fact they had at least two baserunners in each of his other innings. But still, Scott managed to limit the damage, tossing 103 pitches for a 5 IP / 6 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 5 K line.
*The worse trouble started for Houston when Josh Zeid was called upon. A single, sac bunt, and a Denard Span double (ending in a Denard Span TOOTBLAN) scored one run in Zeid's 6th, then he allowed an Anthony Rendon homer and a Jayson Werth walk before departing in the 7th. Werth would score the game's tying run, so Zeid was officially charged with 3 R/ER on 3 H and a BB in 1 IP.
*Darin Downs did the LOOGY thing tonight, but not well, allowing a single to Adam LaRoche as the only batter he faced. And Downs would ultimately earn the loss.
*Thanks to pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth! Inherting a two-on, no-out situation and a 5-4 lead, Farnsworth allowed the tying run on a fielder's choice that couldn't quite become a double play, then the winning run on a sac fly by the late Nate McLouth, following a double and an IBB. So one hit and one walk in one officially scoreless inning for Farnsworth, and a blown save for his efforts.
*Tony Sipp was still good, at least. One K in a perfect 8th.
At the Plate:
*Almost no Astro had a multi-hit game tonight, until Jose Altuve got a two-out single in the 9th. Jose finished 2x4 with a walk and a run, but that run came earlier in the game, so no 9th-inning heroics for Houston.
*Matt Dominguez drove home two on a RBI single in the 4th, finishing 1x4 with a R and 2 K.
*Jason Castro added a RBI double in the 4th to go 1x4 with a K.
*Jonathan Villar also doubled, and had a RBI sac fly, finishing 1x3.
*Dexter Fowler reached base twice, as usual, going 1x4 with a BB.
*Jonathan Singleton reached base thrice, finishing 1x2 with a R, a BB, a HBP, and a K.
*And George Springer (0x3, BB, HBP, K) and Mike-Bob Grossman (0x3, BB, 2 K) were each held hitless, but also each scored a run apiece.
The Astros seemed to take control with a four-run 4th, then added an insurance run when Robbie Grossman scored on a wild pitch in the 7th after Washington had pulled within 4-3. But the Nats struck back quickly, as Anthony Rendon took Josh Zeid's first pitch of the inning to the red seats beyond the left-centerfield fence. Zeid next walked Jayson Werth on five pitches and his night was done, bringing on Darin Downs. Downs worked Adam LaRoche to a 2-2 count before surrendering a single to center, putting runners on the corners with no outs, and putting out the call for pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth. The pr0FF3ss0r got Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a force on LaRoche at second, but the Astros couldn't turn the double play in time, making Zimmerman safe at first and Werth safe at home, with the tying run. Ian Desmond doubled one pitch later, moving Zimmerman around to third, then Farnsworth worked Danny Espinosa to a 3-1 count before intentionally issuing ball four. That loaded the bases with one out for pinch-hitter Nate McLouth, who flied out to Robbie Grossman in the left field corner on the first pitch he saw. Grossman turned a pirouette before throwing home, but the play was not close anyway, and Ryan Zimmerman scampered home with the winning run for Washington.
Man of the Match:
Hmm. Jose Altuve, who at least gave Houston a glimmer of hope in the 9th before George Springer's strikeout swing snuffed it out.
Goat of the Game:
Josh Zeid. But the bullpen as a whole could use a nice, deep game from Collin McHugh tomorrow night.