Brad Peacock (3-5, 4.30) versus Clay Buchholz (3-5, 6.11)
The Red Sox have an excellent recent record against the Astros, managing to be the victors 10 times in their last 12 match ups. However, over the last two games, they are sitting 1-1, and both teams approach the rubber-game of the series looking for momentum heading into the All Star Break.
The Astros were comprehensively outplayed in this one. In fact, they were outplayed the whole series, and were extremely lucky to walk away with a single win. Today, the Sox managed 16 hits and 8 walks. For the series, the Sox managed a hefty 41 hits and 14 walks. Yikes.
The Astros were really their own worst enemies today. Their pitchers - pretty much all of 'em - had literally no idea where the ball was going. It was relatively commonplace for pitchers to be missing their spots by a number of feet. Brad Peacock hit a batter on the foot with Castro set up away, for goodness sake. In contrast, Clay Buchholz was getting calls off the plate all frikking night from Marty Foster - I counted five strikeouts looking where Gameday said the ball was off the plate. But he was also around the strike zone all night, and wasn't missing big.
And, if the Astros' pitching and batting wasn't horrible enough, they also managed to commit three errors. If it weren't for the five double-plays, the Astros could have given up 20 runs.
If you have recorded this game on TiVo, or plan on watching the archived footage on MLB.com, then do yourself a favour and go and lie on a bed of nails instead.
On the Mound:
Brad Peacock's start was, um, short. He opened the game by running the leadoff hitter Brock Holt to a 3-2 count, upon which he homered on a fastball down the pipe for an early 1-0 lead. The home run itself was crushed into the second deck of the RF bleachers, so was not a cheapie at all. Peacock then got to 0-2 on Pedroia, who reached out and flipped a low breaking ball through the hole on the left side of the infield. Peacock got to 3-2 on Ortiz, but walked him on a fastball away and got to a 3-1 count on Daniel Nava before he missed his target (low and outside) by about three feet, hitting Nava square on the foot.
Bo had seen enough, and picked up the phone and dialled 534-8455, summoning Anthony Bass from the 'pen. Bass threw two pitches, and on the second, got Jackie Bradley Jr to ground out to second. The double play was turned, and the Astros were out of the jam.
Bass was immediately in trouble in the second. He allowed a leadoff walk to Xander Bogaerts, who promptly stole second. Drew singled him to third with a broken-bat liner just over Altuve's head, but then Christian Vazquez grounded into a double play to score Bogaerts. Holt and Pedroia followed with singles to put runners on first and second, by Papi blooped a fly-ball to centre (where Kiké Hernandez was waiting) to finish the frame.
Bass continued his difficulties in the third, allowing Napoli to lead off with a clean single through the shift on the first pitch. Daniel Nava then reached on an error under the glove of Singleton, sending Napoli to third. Jackie Bradley Jr singled on a pitch down the pipe to drive in Napoli and again put runners on the corner with no outs. Xander Bogaerts sac-flied to centre, then Drew lined out to Singleton, who doubled Bradley off first. Bass opened the fourth on a grounder-single-lineout sequence, and his night ended with Bo summonsed Darin Downs from the 'pen to face David Ortiz. Downs ended the inning on an Ortiz pop-up.
Downs stayed on to start the fifth, and he loaded the bases with no outs on two singles and a walk. He enticed Bogaerts to ground out to Dominguez and third, who went home for the force, and Castro completed the double-play with the throw to first (that Bogaerts beat but Farrell declined to challenge after a chat with the first base ump). Downs walked Drew to re-load the bases, Zeid relieved, and he got his ground ball, but it it was hard shot to the middle that Altuve dived for, landed facing the wrong direction and his flip to second was wide, resulting in two runs scored. Boston 6, Houston 0.
Zeid worked the top of the sixth, and whilst struggling with his command, allowed only a 2-out walk. Bogaerts reached on an error with one out in the seventh (the third of the day for the Astros), went to third on a Drew single, and scored on a sac fly to make the score 7-0. After allowing a hard hit to Brock Holt (could have been ruled the fourth error of the game as Marwin muffed it), Jose Veras relieved, and he didn't have anything better in the way of command - his fastball was all scatterguns as well. He walked Pedroia to load the bases, then walked Ortiz to walk a runner in on a full count. He ended the frame by striking out Napoli swinging during a compelling power-on-power matchup with the bases loaded.
Veras pitched the eighth, and managed to get Jackie Bradley Jr to ground into the fifth BoSox twin killing of the night. David Martinez then pitched the ninth, and was hit hard. Pop-out, ground rule double, infield single, triple, RBI groundout and fly out was the sequence for his inning.
A poor overall effort from the Astros pitchers. A bunch of them had no idea where the ball was going, and were wild both in and out of the strike zone. You could second-guess Bo for his quick hook with Peacock, but Peacock literally seemed to have no idea where the ball was going, and this isn't the lineup to have that happen against. Bass had a strong April, but seems to have done nothing since, especially upon his return from the DL. Darin Downs has had a bunch of rough outings recently, Veras was kind of everywhere, and Martinez seems like marginal ML talent to me. Suck.
At the Plate:
Clay Buchholz has struggled this year, but the Astros sometimes have the ability to make a lot of opposing pitchers look good. Side retired in order in the first on seven pitches, with two clear high strikes to George Springer being called balls. In the second, much of the same, with the Astros going down in order on two line-outs and a strikeout. Robbie Grossman (1-3) singled to start the third, then watched as the rest of the order went down on a strikeout-lineout-groundout sequence.
The Astros threatened to make some noise in the fourth, with a leadoff Castro (1-3) single, and a one-out Carter (1-3) single. Both runners advanced on a two-out wild pitch, but neither runner scored as Dominguez grounded out. Two strikeouts punctuated the fifth inning (although the called third strike on Marwin Gonzalez was pretty much in his batters box). The generous calls continued on a strikeout of Jason Castro in the sixth, as the side was retired in order again. In the seventh, both Matt Dominguez and Jon Singleton struck out looking on pitches off the plate away, according to Gameday, but had Buchholz demonstrated good enough control that he was getting those pitches called.
In the eighth, two more strikeouts, and in the ninth, two groundouts and a flyout. Complete game shutout, 3 hits, no walks. Excellent effort from Buchholz.
Brad Peacock, on a 3-1 pitch to Daniel Nava, with Castro set down-and-away, yanked the pitch and hit him in the foot, loading the bases and ending his night. The Astros never looked in it after that. Or really, even before that.
Man of the Match:
Goat of the Game:
Pretty much everyone sucked, but particular Goats to the three error-bunnies: Gonzalez, Singleton and Altuve, who not only made an error each, but also combined to go 0-10, 4K at the plate.
On the Morrow:
Enjoy the All Star Break, everyone.