The Astros ride a seven-game losing streak back to Texas for an away series against a Rangers squad that has been beset by an injury rate of historic proportions. Literally, everything has gone wrong for them this year, and while a number of Astros fans will not be shedding any tears, the Rangers' fall from the dizzying heights of dominance has been swift and brutal. Texas has so many injuries that they run out of room at the bottom of their official depth chart page. And now they send a Miles Mikolas to the mound, whom I am guessing many baseball fans didn't even know existed.
That said, Mikolas is not just any AAAA-waiver bait (á la Joe Saunders), as he has been exhibiting pretty decent peripherals in 16 AAA appearances. He also pitched 32 decent ML innings for the Padres in 2012, and briefly appeared in the majors last year, again with the Padres.
But tonight was about the Astros, and what they do with mistake pitching. The Astros recorded a six-run inning to take an early lead, then held the Rangers down with some dominant relief performances to close out a 12-7 win. In doing so, the Astros broke their seven-game losing streak and moved ahead in the Silver Boot series for the first time in what seems like six decades.
On the Mound:
Jarred Cosart got the start, and he struggled a little with his command, allowing runs in four of the five innings that he pitched. His final line was 5IP, 9H, 6R/5ER, 2BB, 2K, 1HR allowed, on 92 pitches.
Cosart retired Texas in order in the first, with Steve Sparks proving the commentators curse by complimenting him on how sharp his stuff looked. In the second, staked to a 6-0 lead, he walked Leonys Martin with one out, allowed a two-out single, and a Singleton error allowed an unearned run to score. In the third: single, double-play, double, RBI double (on a fastball which bled back over the plate), K all happened, for another run. In the fourth: single, pop-out, single, fly-out, walk, 3-RBI double, groundout. The 3-RBI double by Elvis Andrus was on an inside, thigh high curve that was meant to be down-and-away, and Andrus responded by lining it into the LF corner. In the fifth, Beltre led off with a home run - this was a pitch that was meant to be down, but Cosart missed belt-high, and Beltre mashed it CF.
All of Cosarts' RBI hits were conceded on pitches that he clearly missed on. Two of them were meant to be down-and-away and he missed to his arm side and elevated. The third pitch was meant to be low... and wasn't. He struggled with his command tonight, but managed to escape with the win, more by good luck than good management.
Downs relieved, and retired one, then walked one (Choo). Josh Fields relieved him, and proceeded to strike out all three batters he faced. Not to be outdone, Tony Sipp relieved, and he struck out four of the five batters that he faced. If it wasn't for Jose Veras allowing an earned run in the ninth, the Astros bullpen would have continued it's bipolar tendencies, totally shutting down a Rangers side missing 4 key position players and not allowing any eight run innings.
At the Plate:
An impressive second inning for the Astros hitters set the game up for them. Singleton singled to open the frame, Dominguez singled him to second, Carter singled to CF, loading the bases, then Corporan and Kiké Hernandez (starting at LF) dumped singles into LF and RF respectively, to score a run each. Bases still loaded, no outs, five consecutive singles. Marwin Gonzalez ended that streak with a well placed bases-clearing triple to the right-centre gap. Astros 5, Rangers 0. Marwin then scored on a sharp Alex Presley one-out single.
The Astros weren't done. The singled twice in the third, but were retired without troubling the scoreboard operators. In the fourth, Altuve (who was initially called out) reached on an infield single to shortstop, and, after a Presley strikeout, Springer reached on an infield single to second. After the runners advanced on a passed ball, Singleton smoked a 3-2 fastball over the Rangers' bullpen for a 425' 3-run home run. That ended Mikolas' night, and the Astros led 9-2.
Presley added a home run in the sixth. He had a decent night (2-4, HR, R). Singleton walked later in that inning - he had a great night overall: 3-4, BB, 2B, HR, 2R, 4RBI, K - but no other runners reached that inning.
In the eighth, Gonzalez walked (his night was productive: 1-4, BB, 3B, 2R, 3RBI) to lead off the inning, and Altuve singled him to third. Altuve added 2 hits (2-5, 2R, SB) to break the Astros record for hits prior to the All Star Break (previously 123). Then Alex Presley was injured on the tenth pitch of the at-bat, and L.J.Hoes took over, recording a sac-fly to score Gonzalez. Altuve later scored on Singleton's double to RF.
Corporan added a ground-rule double in the ninth - he also had a good night (3-5, 2B, R, RBI) - but no other runs scored. Overall, the Astros managed 17 hits (five for extra-bases) and walked twice.
With no outs, two runs in, and bases loaded in the second, Marwin Gonzalez split the centre-fielder and right-fielder with a line drive that went all the way to the wall. He cleared the bases and wound up standing on third, later scoring on an Alex Presley single.
Man of the Match:
Jon "Singles" Singleton had perhaps his best night in the Bigs, after a rough series in Anaheim. His 3-run shot in the fourth put the game out of reach. Kudos to Josh Fields and Tony Sipp, who faced eight batters between them, striking out seven.
Goat of the Game:
With the infield singles by Altuve and Springer in the fourth, every Astro hitter had recorded a hit. So whilst there isn't a Goat, note is made of George Springer's line: 1-5, R, 3K. Now hitting .234/.341/.458.
On the Morrow:
Up next is Brad Peacock (2-5, 4.38) versus
8 Eastern, 7 Central.
Does anyone else think that pairing Brad Peacock with Brett Oberholtzer in a tandem starter arrangement is a bad idea?? Both have trouble after twice through the order, and seem to lose their "stuff" in the sixth and seventh. Additionally, they are right- and left-handed, which is useful. If all goes well, the rest of the 'pen gets a day off. Just throwing it out there!