The Astros County writing staff have been decimated at the moment, with Cockroach down with a mystery illness; the Constable struggling with holidays, moving and stuff; Batguy trying to hack into the Oakland A's proprietary computer system and (Not Hank) involved in a highly secret project involving the Illuminati. I have been working hard on a stupid conference presentation that will get rotten tomatoes and eggs thrown at me, which gets delivered on Thursday. Suffice to say, things are busy for us all, and that means not much has been written on Astros County lately. Feel free to ask for a refund on your subscription fees.
But all of this is a way of saying that we are sorry for the lack of content at the moment, and some decent analysis is not far away. Which is kind of a bummer, because writing about the Astros would be great right now - or at least in two of the last three series. The Astros managed to record another win over the Rangers tonight by a score of 8-3. Houston also leads the 19-game season series 8-3 after (obviously) 11 games, so they need to win two of the next eight to own the hideously-awful Silver Boot for the winter.
On the Mound:
Splashy free-agent signee junk-balling Scotty Feldman took the bump in a "Battle of the Aces" matchup. I happen to know Yu Darvish is classified by most measures as an ace, but Scott is only the Astros ace by virtue of the fact that he started opening day. That said, he was (i) pretty good tonight and (ii) has been pretty darn good in his last three (including this one) starts - 22.1IP, 5ER. When not injured, he can be plenty effective. His line tonight was a robust 6.1IP, 8H, 3R/ER, BB, 6K.
Scott was throwing a shutout until the sixth inning, when he allowed a leadoff single, then a groundout (with Andrus called out for interfering with the fielder), then a Beltre flyout. However, next batter - lefty Jim Adduci - touched up Feldman for a home run near to the home bullpen for the first runs scored for the Rangers. It was hit on an 87mph inside cut-fastball that was a little elevated - Castro's glove didn't move much, so I down think Feldman missed on his pitch - perhaps it needed to cut a little more.
The next inning was also not kind to Scott - he loaded the bases with one out after striking out Leonys Martin to lead off the inning. Three consecutive singles loaded the bases, so Josh Fields was summonsed from the 'pen. He got Andrus on a sac-fly - allowing the last of Feldman's runs to score - then struck out Daniel Robertson on a 95mph high fastball to end the threat.
Fields stayed on, and allowed a leadoff single in an otherwise uneventful eighth. Fields has been pretty darn mean over the last few months. In his last 10, he has had two bad outings - one a three run in 0.1 innings nightmare and the other a one run in one inning single-a-rama against the Jays, with hits just dropping in all over the place. But over the last 10 outings, he has walked one and struck out 11 in 11 innings. Aside from a couple of bad outings this year, he has been plenty serviceable, and certainly has a place in the Astros 'pen next year, I would think. Not bad for a Rule V draftee.
Mike Foltynewicz mopped up in the ninth, allowing only a two-out single, and repeatedly wowing the crowd by hitting triple digits on his fastball (as well as showing off his nasty 95+ mph 2-seamer). Great to see, and I hope to see him getting more multi-inning appearances over the next two months.
At the Plate:
The Astros started their scoring early against Yu Darvish - and remember their two top outfielders, top infielder, and three of their best four or five batters (depending on how you want to slice-and-dice that debate) are out at the moment. The hot-hitting trio of Robbie Grossman (1-2, 2BB, 3R), Chris Carter (2-4, BB, 2B) and Jon Singleton (2-3, 2BB, 3RBI, R, 2B) carried the Astros tonight.
Also decent at the plate was Jason Castro (2-5, 3K), Matt Dominguez (2-4, RBI) and Jake Marisnick (2-4).
Anyhow, in the first, Robbie Grossman opened the game with a walk and went to second on a wild pitch. Carter walked on 4 pitches, bookended by strikeouts to Castro and Krauss, then Singleton drove in Grossman with a grounder to right, and Dominguez drove in Carter on an infield single. That was an interesting play - Dominguez hit a bounder over the second base bag, Odor attempted to flip to a moving Andrus, who dropped the ball, and Carter saw that it got away and sprinted for home. Excellent heads-up base running. That said, the first inning ended on an excellent play from Elvis Andrus on a Gonzalez grounder.
Two singles in the second, a walk in the third, and a single (out stretching) in the fourth outlined what kind of night Darvish was having. He didn't have a lot of command. It all imploded for him in the fifth, with singles to Castro and Carter and a walk to Krauss loaded the bases with no outs. Singleton - after firing a few foul balls into the Astros dugout, kept a hanging curve fair down the right field line which bounced off where the stand juts out, scoring two. Dominguez added to Darvish's misery with a single over a drawn-in infield, and Darvish's night was done. A single to Marwin Gonzalez off Odor's glove greeted reliever Nate Adcock - resulting in four runs in with no no outs in the inning - but a double play and groundout meant that this would be all that scored. At this stage, the Astros led 6-0.
In the sixth, Robbie Grossman was hit by a pitch and went to third on Jason Castro's single past a diving Andrus. Carter struck out looking on a ball off the plate, and Marc Krauss hit an RBI grounder to drive in Robbie Grossman. Grossman scored the Astros' final run in the eighth after a walk - he scored on Carter's double to deep left.
With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Josh Fields relieved. Sac-fly to Andrus with the game-tying run on deck, followed by a strike out of Daniel Robertson, and the Rangers' most dangerous threat was extinguished.
Man of the Match:
Lets go for Robbie Grossman, for the 1-2, 2BB, 3R night. Last 10 games, he has managed 8 hits (not so good) and 11 walks (much better) while striking out 7 times. He needs to fire it up to get more playing time once Springer and Fowler are back, but this is a good start.
Goat of the Game:
Gregorio Petit: 0-4, 2K. No walks in his 28 at-bats in 2014.
Nick Martinez (1-8, 5.31) versus Dallas Keuchel (10-7, 2.89)
2 Eastern, 1 Central.