Monday, August 11, 2014

From the Hospital Where the County Clerk is Residing - G118: Astros versus Rangers

Cockroach has been rushed to mystery illness hospital, so I am assisting with a quick game recap tonight.  This was the night that the Astros were going to complete their sweep, with their actual Ace on the mound (rather than nominal Ace, who won last night) and were going to beat up on a pitcher who is something like 0-22 in his last 7 starts with an ERA approaching infinity.  Or something.

However, it went differently to the abovementioned script.  Read on to see exactly how this game descended into suck.

On the Mound:
Dallas Keuchel got staked to an early lead and cruised through three innings, allowing only a walk in the second as his only baserunner.  However, in the fourth, a soft line-drive (ball down and away, probably out of the strike zone, excellent piece of hitting by Andrus); runner advancing to all the way to third on a wild pitch; double (inside pitch lined deep to left field, near to the visitors 'pen); line-out; line-out; RBI single sequence tied the score at two apiece.  The second run was scored on an interesting play: with Rios on second, Adam Rosales singled off the glove of Gonzalez deep in the third-base hole.  The ball barely got away from Gonzalez, but Rios was sent home, but was tagged out by Corporan with his foot dislodging the baseball for a run.  Rios left the game with an injured ankle.

In the fifth, the nightmares continued for Keuchel.  Robinson Chirinos doubled to lead off the inning on an elevated fastball away that rolled all the way to the wall at the 373 mark at the Astros' bullpen, Daniel Robertson singled to send him to third on another pitch down-and-away and out of the zone, both runners moved up on a wild pitch (scoring Chirinos), and after a strikeout, a sac-fly scored the second run of the inning with Marisnick electing not to show off his cannon.

In the sixth, Adrian Beltre mashed a home run to left on an elevated fastball down the pipe - Keuchel missed arm-side-and-up.  Immediately after that, Gonzalez made a throwing error, and the Rangers loaded the bases with one out, but Keuchel was able to escape with a double play.  That was all for Keuchel, with a final line of 6IP, 5R/ER, 3BB, 4K, 97 pitches, nine ground balls versus five fly-balls. My take on his outing was the he struggled again to get on top of his pitches, and he seemed to be missing arm side and up when he got into trouble.  All he lacks is a bit of consistency.

Veras relieved for the seventh, and Shin-Soo Choo homered on a 1-0 fastball into the Crawford Boxes.  Veras allowed a single later in the inning, but escaped without further damage.  Downs was tasked with the eighth and ninth, and he pitched two perfect frames, striking out two.

At the Plate:
Robbie Grossman was leading off, with Altuve returning and batting second.  Grossman (0-3, BB, R) drew a leadoff walk in the first, went to third on Altuve's (2-3, 2B, R) soft single to CF, and scored when Carter (0-4) beat out a double-play ball that was originally ruled an out, but overturned on review.  All that did was ensure that Carter recorded an RBI, as there were no outs in the inning so the run would have scored regardless.  The Astros threatened to score in the second, with Matt Dominguez (1-4) singling to open the frame, but he was thrown out attempting to score on Marwin Gonzalez's two-out double that rattled around in the LF corner.  He would have been safe but for the fact that his legs were not extended on the slide, and the correct decision regarding the tag was made by the ump.  Little details like that, especially when compared to Rios' similar later successful slide, seem to be plaguing the Astros at the moment when they are playing badly, and plaguing Matty D when he is not concentrating.  Whether Chirinos gave Dominguez a path to the plate is another matter for another time - I imagine the ump flipped a coin in his head and ruled him out, which is the only way that I can see how these rulings are being made at the moment.

The Astros got their only other run of the game in the third on an Altuve hit-by-pitch, steal of second and dash home on a Castro (1-4) single.  They threatened in the fifth, when Marwin Gonzalez (1-3, 2B, BB) drew a leadoff walk, then with one out was forced to hold at third when Altuve hit a ground-rule double into the RF corner.  But Carter and Castro struck out to end the threat.  In the sixth, the Astros again had runners on second and third (this time with two outs) after a Marisnick (1-4, 2B) double into the LF corner with Corporan (0-3, BB) on base.  However, in the seventh, eighth and ninth, they went in order to round out a frustrating loss.

Nick Martinez, who only went five innings but struck out six, managed to get a bunch of the Astros hitters chasing high pitches with two strikes on them.  Especially Jon Singleton - 0-4, 3K.

Turning Point:
After the Altuve ground-rule double (after which Bo Porter bemoaned the rule regarding), the Astros had runners on second and third with one out and the meat of the order up.  Nick Martinez struck Carter out on a fastball up-and-in, and retired Castro on another high fastball to end the threat.  At that time, the game score was 4-2 Rangers - a single from either of those two would have tied the game up, and it may have taken on a different complexion from there.

Man of the Match:
Jose Altuve is quite the player.  Impressive on his return from a neck owie. - 2-3, 2B, HBP, SB.  Darin Downs also mopped up very effectively, saving the 'pen for tomorrow - this may be important, especially if the interested reader was to scroll down and see who the starter is...

Goat of the Game:
Singleton.  Ugh.

On the Morrow:
The Twinkies roll into town before the Astros fly to Boston.

Ex-Athletic Tommy Milone (6-3, 3.55) versus Brad "Scattergun" Peacock (3-8, 5.44).  Hoping for an improved performance from Brad after a few rough outings marred by difficulties with command.

8 Eastern, 7 Central.