Sunday, July 6, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk: G89 - Astros at Angels

Scott Feldman (4-5, 3.92) versus Hector Santiago (0-7, 4.08)

The Astros played game 3 of a 4 game set at Los Angeles, and this game looked a lot like the last one.  The 'stros scored five in an early inning, with all of the runs scoring on extra-base hits.  If you were watching, perhaps a little hung over from a July 4 BBQ, and decided to head to bed after the sixth - or perhaps in the seventh inning stretch - with the 'stros up 5-2, you may have thought the game looked good.  And do I have some bad news for you.  The Angels broke out for an impressive 8-run inning in the eighth, and added a needless insurance run in the eighth, with the eventual score in the books as an Astros 11-5 loss.

On the Hump:
Scott Feldman was plenty solid in his start tonight, but had to throw a lot of pitches to get credited with a quality start.  His line: 6IP, 6H, 2R/ER, 0BB, 5K, 104 pitches.  He was unlucky in the first: Kole Calhoun smoked the sixth pitch of the at bat right into the ground in front of the plate - it took a high bounce and just eluded Feldman's glove as he ranged to his left.  Calhoun was on first and he advanced to second on a wild pitch on the next batter, then advanced a base on a deep flyout for the first out.  Pujols, seeing an Astro on the mound, decided to have a good day and singled him in, Hamilton also singled but Aybar lined out for the third out.

Feldman then settled down and retired the side in the second (2K's), and allowed only a one-out double in the third.  In the fourth, he gave up another run on a one out single by Erick Aybar, a stolen base and a Howie Kendrick single.  In the fifth, Feldman again retired the side in order, and he finished by allowing a two-out single in the sixth.  Once again, Feldman does what Feldman does when he is pitching well, which is chew up a moderate amount of innings and keep his team in the game.

Then weird (and bad) stuff started to happen.  Bo picked up the phone to the 'pen, and dialled 534_8455 (geddit??... Sea Bass... for Anthony Bass?? - thanks Anonymous commentator!)  C.J. Cron opened the inning with a single to right, then Hank Conger struck out looking on four pitches.  David Freese pinch hit for John McDonald, and hit his first ever home run at Angels Stadium (in 124 at-bats) and first ever pinch hit home run.  Of course he did!!  But the carnage was just beginning.  With one out, Calhoun singled to CF, and Trout flew out.  Two outs.  Albert Pujols, again seeing an Astro hurler on the mound, pounded his second 2-run home run to left-centre in as many nights.  Angels lead, 6-5.  Carnage not over yet - Bo summonsed Tony "Shutdown" Sipp from the 'pen to face Josh Hamilton.  Well, Sipp (he of the 3 walks in 23+ innings) promptly walked Hamilton.  Aybar - on the tenth pitch of his at-bat - lined a low fastball into the outfield, where it dropped perfectly in left-centre, and Hamilton scored.  Sipp was then asked to walk righty Howie Kendrick, slowly of course, so that Josh Zeid had time to warm up.  

Zeid relieved, and had trouble from the outset.  C.J. Cron homered, scoring three (if you are still keeping count at home: Angels 10, Astros 5), and Zeid immediately walked the next two hitters (Conger and Freese).  He then got Calhoun to strike out on a 3-2 pitch on the eighth pitch of his at-bat, but the ball got away from Castro (scored wild pitch), and Calhoun reached on the K.  Bases juiced.  Then, Mike Trout, he of the walk-off home run last night, and the eleventy billion WAR in the last two years, struck out for a merciful end to a horror inning.  Fourteen men to the plate, three home runs - all of the multi-run variety - eight runs scored, bases left loaded, 75-odd pitches thrown.  The carnage took just under an hour.  Yikes.

Darin Downs took the eighth, and being the ultimate team player, decided not to show the others up by throwing a scoreless outing.  His inning went double (to Albert of course), K, groundout with the runner advancing, RBI single (Kendrick) and groundout to end the frame.  

Some of the Angels' line scores are worth looking at:  Calhoun 3-5, 2B, 2B; Pujols 3-5, 2B, HR, 2R, 3RBI; Aybar 3-5, 2B, 2R, RBI; Freese 1-1, BB, HR, 2RBI, R.  Oh, and Mike Trout, yesterday's hero: 0-5, 2K.  Their offence is otherworldly when it comes to important hits at vital times.  And if one guy don't get you, another will.  Very un-Astro-like.

At the Plate:
Solid night for the Astros in terms of runs scored, but wasted opportunities were again the story of the game.  Altuve walked in the first (0-4, BB), but was erased by a fielders choice, and Dominguez struck out to end the inning with Springer on second.  Kiké Hernandez (again starting at short) walked with two out in the second, but Santana added another K to his ML resumé to end the frame.  On to the five-run third!!

Hoes flicked a single to right to open the frame, followed by an Altuve flyout.  Then Castro doubled on a low 83mph screwball on the first pitch of the at-bat, all the way to the base of the wall in right-centre, and Hoes scored without a throw.  Springer then took first on a hit-by pitch, and Dominguez singled to left to load the bases, one out.  Carter then worked the count to 3-1, and smoked a 92mph fastball away over the wall to the right side of the batting eye for a Grand Slam.  A fantastic situation to put Carter in, then he worked the count to his favour, hit it the other way with power, and showed why he is still in the lineup despite hitting below the Mendoza line.

The fifth inning was the opposite to the third inning in terms of clutchiness.  Castro opened the frame by singling to right, and Springer struck out.  Dominguez again singled to left (2-4, R), and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.  They weren't challenging Carter again (his line: 1-3, BB, R, HR, 4RBI), so they intentionally walked them after the runners advanced.  So, one out, bases loaded, Singleton at the plate.  Grounder to first, runner forced at home, two out.  Kiké then stung one up the middle, but Kendrick smothered it and got the force at second in a nick of time.  No runs scored.

The Astros then went in order in the next three innings (4 strikeouts), and managed to get two on with two out in the ninth.  Springer struck out to end the game.  

The disappointing part of this game was that the Astros had the bases loaded twice with one-out against Hector Santiago, but only scored on him on one occasion.  He stayed in the game after a traumatic third, and managed two more frames.  However, that is just as well, because they allowed the Angels bullpen to dominate them - 4IP, 5K, 2H (both singles).  Ouch.

And as the Constable said on Twitter afterward:
"Castro and Dominguez were 5x9. Errbody else was 3x26"
And one of those 3x26 was a Grand Slam. If that Slam hadn't happened... yikes!

Turning Point:
Either the fifth (bases loaded, one out, no runs) or the seventh (Angels sending 14 runners to the plate, scoring 8 one three home runs, eventually leaving the bases loaded as a show of mercy).  Take your pick.

Man of the Match:
Jason Castro, hitting again in the two-hole, went 3-5, 2B, R, RBI.  That gets his OBP to above .300, and his average is .294 (and only 8K's) for the last 10.  Alternatively, Chris Carter, for taking advantage when it mattered most.  Another opposite field shot, and Bo was seen congratulating John Mallee in the dugout immediately afterward.  Perhaps they are getting there with Chris, but I have said that before.  Lots of times.

Goat of the Game:
Domingo Santana is making Springer and Singleton look like filthy contact hitters.  Tonight: 0-3, 3K, to take his record to 11K's in 13AB's, with no hits.  I would think that the plan is for him to be in the Majors for long enough to know what to work on should he return to AAA.  That time isn't yet, but if he continues to strike out at this rate, then his continued presence at this level becomes unsustainable.

Up Next:
The series finale pits Collin McHugh (4-7, 3.22) against Garrett Richards (9-2, 2.81).

I can't see this going wrong.  If you do want to see it going wrong, then 3.35 Eastern, 2.35 Central.