Thursday, July 24, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk: G 101 - Astros at Athletics

Brad Peacock (3-6, 4.39) versus Jesse Chavez (7-6, 3.14)

What Brad Peacock had going in terms of control and velocity, it sure has disappeared his last two games.  Peacock struggled for the second consecutive start, but this time he managed more than one-third of an inning.  The Athletics scored the first seven runs (all off Peacock) before the Astros rallied with a five-run eighth to make the game interesting... well, very interesting really... against the vaunted Athletics bullpen.  However, it was all in vain as the Astros fell to a 9-7 loss.

Note is made that the Astros are missing three CF's, as George Springer hit the DL with right knee/quad difficulties.  Marc Krauss got the call from OKC, and he grabbed his glove and ran out to play LF tonight, with Kiké Hernandez manning CF.

On the Mound:
I kind of had the impression that Bradley J had made significant strides through late June.  All of that has disappeared in the last two starts.  He struggled, allowing 13 base runners through three-and-two-thirds.  His line: 3.2IP, 7H, 7R/ER, 5BB, 2K, 3HR allowed.  89 pitches.

None of this is good, so I will be brief.  Peacock escaped a bases loaded jam in the first, on a walk-single-line out-K-single-groundout sequence.  In the second, he wasn't so lucky.  Jed Lowrie leadoff HR-walk-single-walk-sac fly-home run-K-walk-line out.  And the third??  Why, retired the side in order on five pitches, of course!  In the fourth, he allowed a two-run HR to Cespedes (his second of the night) and Jake Buchanan relieved.

Buchanan did ok, allowing a run on a double, a single and a walk in the fifth, and another in the seventh on a two singles and a walk.  Josh Zeid retired one in the eighth and Downs retired the remainder without incident.

Buchanan's line: 3.1IP, 5H, 2R/ER, 2BB, 2K.  Glad to see him getting a long-relief outing and seeing what he can do at the major-league level.  His pitch to end the fifth resulted in the thumb injury to Cespedes - on a 1-2 count with two on and two out, he threw a fastball that ran right in on Cespedes' fists, who managed to bloop it over Buchanan's head.  Altuve fielded it and could have moon-walked to first base to complete the force, because Cespedes was on his butt on home plate nursing a sore hand.  The pitch was pretty much right where Castro wanted it, and Buchanan was rewarded with the out.  No word on Cespedes' thumb.

At the Plate:
Carter walked in the first against Jesse Chavez, and that was the last baserunner that the Astros had until the fifth, when Dominguez hit a clean single to left.  Grossman then walked, Hernandez singled to load the bases, and Marwin drove in the Astros' first run with a ground-out to first.  Altuve ended the frame with a K.

In the sixth, Castro singled to left, and with two outs and on a 2-1 count, Jon Singleton took Chavez's hundredth pitch and smoked it to the scoreboard in left.  It bounced off the wall about half-way up, and Castro scored easily for the second Astros run of the game.

The Astros went quietly in the seventh, but made some serious noise in the eighth, albeit mostly against a struggling reliever (Jim Johnson - who was charged with four of the runs while getting no outs).  Still, the Astros recorded two further hits against Dan Otero, and forced the Athletics to use Luke Gregerson for the remaining two outs, and Sean Doolittle for the ninth.

Anyhow, back to the top of the eighth.  The Astros batted as follows: Altuve (1-5) single to third, then Castro (2-5 with a loud out or two) single to right.  Chris Carter (1-4, BB) hit a clean line-drive to the gap in left-centre on a low 93-mph fastball to drive in Altuve.  Marc Krauss (1-4) followed by dumping an 0-2 outside sinker to centre, scoring Castro, and allowing Carter to get to third.  Singleton (1-4) then grounded out to third - a perfect double-play ball - but Donaldson's throw to second-base was low, and Sogard had to lean forward to smother the ball on the short-hop, taking his foot off the bag in the process.  Everyone safe, Carter scored, runners on first and second, still no one out.  Matt Dominguez (1-4) lined out for the first out, but Robbie Grossman (1-3, BB) hit a clean liner over Lowrie's head toe score Krauss.  Singleton alertly went to third.  Then Kiké Hernandez took an 0-2 pitch away, and hit a clean liner into right field, scoring Singleton and sending Grossman to third.  L.J. Hoes was unable to complete last nights' heroics, striking out on the ninth pitch of his at-bat, and Altuve ended the frame with runners on the corners grounding out to short.

Nice to see an inning where the Astros execute against a strong 'pen, but ultimately they still fell short.  They went in order in the ninth, when Guzman - who pinch-hit for Krauss - struck out.

Turning Point:
Brad Peacock managed to escape a rough first inning with a scoreless frame despite loading the bases on a walk and two singles.  He threw 34 pitches in that frame.  On the first pitch of the second, Castro set up a little up and away, but Peacock missed a little down-and-in with a 89mph fastball - right into the left-handed hitters' wheelhouse.  Lowrie mashed a towering fly-ball which made it into the second row of the seats, right next to the foul pole in right field.  The A's would take the lead, and never relinquish it.

Man of the Match:
Kiké Hernandez got another start in CF, and wasn't unimpressive.  He showed some skills with an over-the-shoulder catch on a John Jaso fly ball with the bases loaded in the second.  He back-pedalled madly to the wall, and adjusted his glove nicely so the ball dropped in it.  A better jump may have made the last bit unnecessary, but given that he played one game in CF in Corpus and one in Oklahoma in his career, he hasn't done too bad out there.  

He also went 2-4 at the plate.  His triple slash sits at .310/.375/.431 for the season.

Goat of the Game:
Brad Peacock for the second straight start scuffled, and put the Astros in the deep, deep hole.  Sorry Brad, but you earned the goat tonight.

Up Next:
The Astros play the rubber game of the series... 

Scott Feldman (4-7, 4.30) versus Jeff Samardzija (3-8 [!], 2.91)

... before jumping on a plane and heading back to H-Town for a set against the Florida Miami Marlins