Dallas Keuchel (10-8, 3.07) vs Clay Buchholz (5-7, 5.99)
First of all, the rumors of my exile to Weiland Island are... actually not all that exaggerated at all. But I escaped (sea turtles, mate), and my sincere gratitude to the Masked Marvel for his always excellent efforts in my unexpected absence.
Second of all, it took nine tries - and a circus act in the 8th - but at long last the Astros have finally won a game at Fenway Park. More details to follow, but Houston jumps, jives, and wails their way to a 5-3 victory in 10 innings over the Red Sox. They move to 51-72 overall - and oh, by the way, they've now matched their 2013 win total with 39 games left to go.
On the Mound:
*For most of the night, Dallas Keuchel was realistically winning the pitching war, even though the results didn't show in the run column. Through 5 innings, Kid Keuchy allowed only one hit besides a pair of infield singles; in the 6th, allowed a double that went nowhere; and in the 7th, allowed a pair of singles that only resulted in a run due to a wild pitch in between. But that other hit early was a 2-run Yoenis Cespedes home run, and multiple missed opportunities at the plate by Houston meant that Keuchel still left trailing 3-2. Still, it was another solid effort by the Astros' ace that gave his mates every opportunity to win: 7 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 3 BB / 8 K.
*Jose Veras took over for a perfect 8th (with 1 K), then also got the first two outs of the 9th (with another K), before walking Will Middlebrooks and leaving the game.
*Tony Sipp came on to follow and quickly ended the 9th, then after the offense staked him to a 5-3 lead, he struck out one in a beautifully boring 1-2-3 10th.
At the Plate:
*Missed opportunities were going to be the story of the offense until Gregorio Petit entered the game in the 8th as a pinch-runner for Chris Carter. Which is honestly even stranger than it sounds, but more on that later. 10 LOBsters for Houston, one double play, and 1x13 with RISP until two outs in the 10th.
*Mike-Bob Grossman had himself some kind of night, going 3x5 with a double, a solo HR (his 6th), 2 RBI, and a K.
*Chris Carter is still on fire (ho hum), going 2x4 with 2 K tonight before leaving in favor of Petit's legs.
*Dexter Fowler (and his legs) also played a big part, going 2x4 with a BB, a R, 2 K, and one very notable safe call on a failed force at second.
*Jake Marisnick is the hero of the 10th, with a two-out, bases-loaded, two-run ground-rule double that provided the winning margin. He had another single earlier on as well, to finish 2x5 with a run scored.
*Marwin Gonzalez went 1x5 with a K.
*And Gregorio Petit - entered as a pinch-runner for Carter, scored the tying run. Stayed in and led off the 10th with a single, scored the winning run. Not bad for his first DH action since 2008.
Of course Jake Marisnick in the 10th was the deciding blow, but this game clearly turned in Houston's half of the 8th. Because, well... just look.
Man of the Match:
Gotta go with Gregorio Petit here. No disrespect to Chris Carter and his 2 SB, but Petit's wheels (and Fowler's) made the difference tonight.
Goat of the Game:
Jonathan Singleton, going 0x4 with a BB, 3 K, and 7 LOBsters himself.