Max Scherzer (9-3, 3.71) vs Brett Oberholtzer (2-6, 4.76)
Good feeling's gone. Still riding the high off last night's walk-off, every move seemed to be working for Bo Porter and the Astros today... Dallas Keuchel a late scratch with wrist inflammation? Brett Oberholtzer stepped in to out-duel Detroit's second straight Cy Young winner. Dexter Fowler out again with back stiffness? Replacement Alex Presley delivered 3 RBI. Bases loaded in the 7th with a dangerous Ian Kinsler at the plate? Recent call-up L.J. Hoes made a diving catch to end the inning. And the heart of Detroit's order up in the 8th? Bring on Chad Qualls, your best reliever, to hold the lead at 2-1. But then a curious choice: Porter brought on Jerome Williams - Houston's worst reliever - with that still slim 2-1 lead for the 9th. And the result turned out exactly as we all feared. 3-run home run from Ian Kinsler just one out away from ending the game, and Detroit steals the second game with a 4-3 win. Houston opens the official second half of 2014 by falling to 35-47.
On the Mound:
*Astros fans know the names, but for the second straight game, Houston sent a "who's that guy??" pitcher to face a former Cy Young winner for Detroit. And for the second straight game, Houston won the pitching matchup. Brett Oberholtzer didn't bring the flash of Max Scherzer's 13 strikeouts today, but he still got better results, making the case that he belongs back in Houston (if his attitude is adjusted). 88 pitches, 60 for strikes, and Brett finished with a 6.1 IP / 5 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 4 K line.
*Josh Zeid got the call when Oberholtzer began to show signs of trouble in the 7th, and Zeid initially allowed a single to Eugenio Suarez to load the bases with one out. But Rajai Davis grounded into a force at the plate, then L.J. Hoes made what looked like a game-saving catch to rob Ian Kinsler and end the inning.
*Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez were due up for the Tigers in the 8th, with Houston still holding to a 2-1 lead. So Bo Porter bucked convention of saving your "closer" for the 9th, and brought on Chad Qualls. Chad allowed a 2-out double to J.D., but got Torii Hunter to ground out on the next pitch, so the move seemed justified...
*...until Qualls in the 8th led to Jerome Williams in the 9th. Single, strikeout, single, sac bunt, and the Tigers had the go-ahead run in scoring position, but had also put themselves one out away from defeat. Then Ian Kinsler made Brad Ausmus look like the smartest man in the room. 3-run homer for Kinsler, and hurry back, Anthony Bass.
At the Plate:
*Alex Presley was the unlikely source of all of Houston's scoring today. Starting in place of Dexter Fowler again, Presley got the Astros out in front early with a 2-run single off Scherzer in the 1st. After Jerome Williams' ill-fated save attempt, Presley added a solo home run (his 4th) in the bottom of the 9th to cut the lead back to 4-3, and he finished the day 2x4 with a K.
*Jose Altuve is doing things the Astros have never seen before. After a 4x5 showcase the night before, Jose only went 2x4 with another 2 SB today. He's now one away from tying his career high in steals (35), and it's June 28.
*Marwin Gonzalez spelled Jonathan Villar today, and had a multi-hit game of his own, going 2x4.
*George Springer went 1x4 with 2 K, and scored on Presley's RBI single.
*Jonathan Singleton went 1x4 with 3 K, and also scored on Presley's RBI single.
Bo Porter bringing in Jerome Williams. Nick Castellanos led off with a single, Alex Avila struck out, Eugenio Suarez followed with a single, and then Brad Ausmus gambled by calling for the sacrifice bunt. Rajai Davis executed successfully, moving the tying run to third and the winning run to second, but also moving Detroit within an out of losing their second straight game. On a 2-0 fastball, Ian Kinsler rewarded Ausmus' faith, knocking a 3-run homer off the pillar in left-center, giving Detroit their first lead of the day at 4-2.
Man of the Match:
Co-MotM to Brett Oberholtzer and Alex Presley. Fabulous work from both emergency injury replacements.
Goat of the Game:
Jerome Williams. I know lots of relievers were used in the late game last night, and today's game was less than 24 hours later, but... c'mon.