Friday, August 15, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G122: Astros at Red Sox

This game needs to be written about, despite the crushing 9-4 loss.  The Astros flat dominated for the first half of the game, then, like a slow-motion car-wreck, the game imploded in the worst possible fashion.  Thanks, in my opinion, to inaction on behalf of Bo Porter, who left Scott Feldman in to get tattooed.

I got to watch the game having just stepped off a ten-and-a-half hour flight, but even in my jet lagged state, I watched in horror as the two metaphorical cars collided in slow motion in the sixth inning.  But that wasn't all.  The metaphorical wreckage of the car crash tumbled and slid down a steep bank, eventually coming to rest on a railway track, where it was hit by a metaphorical 100-car freight train.  And if that wasn't enough, the whole-darn-metaphorical-lot caught fire, spewing ash into the atmosphere, where it clogged the engines of a metaphorical jet airplane (mercifully, my actual plane landed safely before all this happened), causing ANOTHER crash with no metaphorical survivors.  I hope you get the idea.

Would have been much easier if I had a Peanuts comic strip to visually represent what happened.  Oh... that's right, there's a Peanuts comic for every occasion:

This game, in my opinion and as mentioned above, was lost by Bo Porter.  I watched in anticipatory dread as Scott Feldman, who was very solid through 5, but giving up more and more in the way of solid contact was (i) left in to start the sixth and (ii) not pulled after the first couple of batters.  The Red Sox put together lots and lots and lots of solid contact in the fourth to the sixth innings, scoring eight runs (seven runs in the sixth) and putting the game out of reach for the strong-starting Astros.

On the Mound:
As mentioned above, Scott Feldman was very solid in this start, allowing his first baserunner with two outs in the third.  He yielded a solo run in the fourth after two singles and a double-play with runners on the corners, followed by a walk, and a ringing double that resulted in a runner being cut down at the plate thanks to excellent positioning from Altuve.

At this point, I kind of thought two things: (i) Feldman seemed to be up in the zone on many of his pitches and (ii) the top of the order is figuring him out.  He returned for the fifth inning, and got three outs with no difficulty, although a couple of line-drives to the outfield looked a little scary off the bat.  Then in the sixth, line-drive-a-rama happened.  It went as follows:

Brock Holt hard-hit double on a 3-2 pitch, Pedroia single on an 0-2 pitch, Ortiz RBI single on the first pitch, Cespedes fielder's choice on an 0-2 pitch (may have been a double play if Feldman had not lolly-gagged on the mound and covered first instead), Napoli RBI single on a 2-1 pitch, Nava walk, Middlebrooks RBI single to CF, bases left loaded with one out and the game tied.

Scott Downs relieved, and also struggled.  He walked Jackie Bradley Jr, conceded a sac fly to right (Marisnick didn't even try to cut the runner down), and walked Brock Holt (remember him??  He started the inning!).  Bases again loaded, 6-4 down, 2 outs.

Mike Foltynewicz relieved and promptly gave up a ground-rule double to Dustin Pedroia on a slicing line drive just fair down the RF line.  It headed into the stands, and the Sox took an 8-4 lead.  David Ortiz mercifully ended the carnage by generously grounding out to short for the final out of the inning.

For those keeping score at home: 12 batters sent to the dish, scoring 7 runs, leaving two on base, two walks and two extra-base hits (doubles).  Sigh.  All that I could think of was Game 3 of the 2005 World Series, where Phil Garner left Roy Oswalt out there to lose a 5-0 (or similar) lead, despite the fact that he obviously didn't have any gas left in the tank.  Hell, Roy O couldn't even bean A.J. Pierzynski, his command was so bad.  Anyhow, we all know how that series ended up.

But I digress.  Folty finished out the game, allowing a double in the next inning (the seventh), and conceding a run in the eighth on three consecutive singles to open the inning.

Feldman was eventually charged with seven earned, Downs with one and Folty with one.  Feldman struck out one while walking two.  He was the very definition of pitch-to-contact tonight, which was great when the contact involved Red Sox hitters beating the ball into the ground, as it did in the first three innings.  But one they started stringing line-drives together, some kind of quicker hook should have been employed (in my worthless opinion).  Perhaps Bo was trying to save the bullpen again.

At the Plate:
The Astros looked dangerous through the first four, ably assisted by Allen Webster's wildness in and out of the strike zone.  They went in order in the first, but scored in the second on a Fowler (0-2, 2BB) walk, a Castro (1-3, BB) walk and a Singleton (0-3, BB) "error" (when he smashed it to Mike Napoli's backhand, and the ball ended up spilling into shallow right - a real home-team error).  A patented Matt Dominguez rally-killing grounder to third ended that threat prematurely.

The Astros also scored in the third on a Gonzalez double and a Grossman (1-5) RBI single in an excellent at-bat.  Jose Altuve (1-4) then reached on an infield single deep into the hole at short to put two on with no outs and one run in, but Carter popped out, Fowler struck out, and Castro grounded out to end that threat.

In the fourth, Singleton opened the frame with a walk, then Dominguez (2-4, HR) followed with a booming homer off the light tower in the LF-CF gap.  At that time, the score was 4-0, but the Red Sox scored their first run in the top of the next frame as the first of nine unanswered.

The only other time that the Astros threatened was in the seventh, when Marisnick (1-4) led off with a single, and moved to third on another Gonzalez double.  He was cut down at the plate on an Altuve sac-fly attempt.  Fowler walked as the sole baserunner in the eighth, and Dominguez singled as the sole baserunner in the ninth.

Turning Point:
0-2 pitch to Pedroia in the sixth, with Brock Holt on second and no outs.  Little line-drive single into left, and it is game-on for the Sox offence as Ortiz represented the tying run at the plate.  Although Ortiz didn't level the game singlehandedly in the next at-bat, the 0-2 pitch to Pedroia was representative of Feldman's troubles - he worked from a good position most of the game, but couldn't quite put guys away, and once the grounders turned into line-drives and the balls started finding the gaps, it was all rather hard to contain.

Man of the Match:
I was going to go with Matt Dominguez here, for his 2RBI, 2-4, HR night, but he also accounted for 4 outs on the bases with 2 GIDP's.  For that, he deserves to be punished.  Or at least not awarded the MoTM.  So, the award goes to the shortstop and nine-hole hitter, Marwin Gonzalez, for his two doubles (in four AB's) night.

Goat of the Game:
Chris Carter had a tough night - he looked like he struggled with his timing.  He went 0-4, with three pop-outs and a groundout.  From perennial MoTM to Goat inside a day - poor guy.  Hope he gets on track tomorrow - I wanna see what he does to that Green Monster.

Up Next:
Second game of the four-game set.  Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.07) versus Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.99).

7 Eastern, 6 Central.