Monday, August 25, 2014

From the Office of the County Clerk - G131: Astros at Indians

The Astros had a chance to record a winning road trip and not lose a series on their latest jaunt through Boston, New York and Cleveland earlier today.  However, the Indians pitching did what the Indians pitching has been doing recently, and the Astros were restricted to one single run.  The Indians got to Brett Oberholtzer in three separate innings and they managed three runs in total, so the Astros lost by a score of 3-1.

I just want to say something about the Indians starters.  The Associated Press has reported via various websites that the Indians starters have allowed 15 earned runs in their last 79 innings, which is pretty good.  Fangraphs reports that the Indians have used six starters in August, and they combined for 2.9 WAR prior to this game.  That doesn't sound like much, but with a few games left in August, and remembering that the Astros led the AL in starting pitching WAR in May (with 3.2), it is fair to say that the Indians starters are having a good month.  I complimented their bullpen yesterday (they ran out the B-grade setup guys today, who were still pretty darn good), so their pitching is certainly their strength.

I will keep writing about the Indians pitching if this blog changes its name to or something, but because it is called Astros County, lets switch our attention back to our beloved 'stros.

On the Mound:
Getting the start was Brett Oberholtzer, who has been solid but unspectacular in his last 10 or so starts.  Obie threw 103 pitches, and recorded a quality start, yielding a 6.2IP, 10H, 3R/ER, 6K line.

In the first, Obie forced Bourn on a bunt attempt in a really nice defensive play between he an Jon Singleton.  He allowed a one-out single, the runner went to second on a one-out sacrifice, but the inning ended without further problem.  In the second, Trevor Holt reached on an infield single: he hit a ground ball back to Obie who thought he had in his glove, then he realised he didn't before locating the ball on the ground and trying to get the out at first.  Obie's throw got past Singleton and Trevor Holt was not interested in advancing any, but he got second base when the ball dribbled into the camera-well.  The Astros gifted the Indians a second free-out of the inning, with a one-out fielder's choice to third (Dominguez tried to catch the runner off second but was waaaay late for the tag), but Obie buckled down and retired the side with two strikeouts.

In the third, Bourn bunted to Dominguez at third (really more of a check-swing), then went to third on Jose Ramirez's double with no outs (which bounced off the wall, just over Krauss' glove).  A one-out sac-fly scored Bourn - nice throw from Marisnick was in time, but just on the first-base side of home plate.  Ramirez was TOOTBLAN'd at home on what was scored as a fielder's choice to end the frame after Obie threw a pitch in the dirt and it got away from Corp.  Ramirez tried to come home, but was toast when Corp recovered the ball on the third base line and tagged him.  Ramirez also left the baseline to avoid the tag - he was fully a fifth of the way to the mound at one stage - so I would think he would be called out regardless.

In the fourth, the Indians scratched another run across with two consecutive two-out hits: an Avila double and a Chisenhall single.  In the fifth, Obie allowed a two-out single to CF, and in the sixth, he (finally) managed to retire the side in order.

In the seventh, the game kind of got away - you got the feeling at that point that the Astros were not going to come back.  Chisenhall singled to RF to start the frame, and he was balked to second when Singleton came off the bag and started to walk to the mound prior to Oberholtzer's throw-over.  Chisenhall was then sacrificed to third, and a Bourn groundout straight back to the pitcher made it two outs with a runner at third.  However, Jose Ramirez - who had a fantastic series for the Indians - squeaked a two-out single just out of the reach of a diving Gonzalez to score Chisenhall, and after a Kipnis single to LF, Obie's night was done with runners on first and second.

Folty relieved, and he moved the runners up on a wild pitch, then walked Carlos Santana to load the bases.  But then he struck out the next four batters in a row to complete the pitching effort for Houston.  His strikeouts?  Check swing on an 83 mph slider, 0-2 count; 98mph fastball on a 1-2 count, down and in to a lefty; check-swing on an 2 mph slider on a 1-2 count and a 98mph elevated fastball on a 1-2 count.  Excellent!

At the Plate:
In the first, Jose Altuve (2-5) reached on an infield single, when Ramirez's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, but the rest of the side went in order despite an Altuve steal of second.  Marc Krauss (1-4) was the final out of the inning - the first of two times that Trevor Holt robbed him in RF with diving catches on line drives.  In the second, Singleton (1-3, BB) worked a lead-off walk, then was cut down stealing second on a Marwin Gonzalez (0-3) K.  Corp (1-1, 2BB) then singled through the right side, but Dominguez (0-2) went down swinging on ANOTHER slider down-and-away.

In the third, Robbie Grossman (1-5) hit a long double to RF that bounced off the wall about 2 feet below the yellow-line, but he was stranded after two groundouts.  In the fourth, Bauer started by striking out Krauss and Singleton, then he hit Marwin Gonzalez with a pitch and walked Corp, but Dominguez struck out looking on a beautifully placed 96mph fastball down and away on a 1-2 count.  The next baserunner was a Fowler (1-5) single leading off the second, but he watched as Krauss was robbed in RF again, and Singleton and Gonzalez struck out.

When Bauer walked Corp to start the seventh (shortly after Corp nearly took him deep - the play was reviewed, but the ball was ruled foul after a reply - the Indians commentary team thought it was fair), he was pulled.  Atchison relieved, and he enticed Castro (who was 0-2, pinch hitting for Dominguez) into a GIDP, then allowed a single to Marisnick (2-4), but struck out Grossman for the third out.

The Astros' only run came in the eighth.  Marc Krauss was finally rewarded for his hard-hit balls with a single to left (through where a conventional shortstop would be playing), and he scored on a Singleton ground ball through a mostly-vacant left side.  He was sent home just before Aviles (sadly miscast as an outfielder) threw the throw home up the first base line.  In the ninth, the Astros threatened to make some noise after Carter walked with no outs, Marisnick singled with one out, and Altuve singled with two outs to load the bases.  However, Cody Allen managed to strike Dexter Fowler out on a fastball up-and-away (Fowler was a little late on it) and the rally was suffocated.

Turning Point:
The Astros were actually a little unlucky at times in this game.  Additionally, the game was close enough that a couple of bounces the other way could have led to a totally different result.  I thought that the turning point, however, was a bit of a TOOTBLAN.  Jon Singleton walked to open the second, and Marwin Gonzalez struck out.  Now Singleton is fast for a big guy, but not that fast, and when he slid into second, the ball had been waiting for him for about a second.  Carlos Corporan then singled, so perhaps a different outcome on the steal attempt or strikeout would have led to an inning with some scoring for once.

If this turning point does not suit you, then choose either the Grossman long double that hit just below the line, the Krauss near-catch in left on the Ramirez double, or the Corporan foul ball / near home run.

Man of the Match:
Lets go with either Folty (1.1IP, 4K) or Jake Marisnick (2-4)

Goat of the Game:
Matt Dominguez looks disinterested at the moment.  He is putting in bad at-bats and is making mental mistakes in the field (like the fielder's choice today).  He looks tired or pissed off to me.  He went 0-2, 2K today to lower his line to .225/.264/.347 on the year.

On the bright side, he represents an excellent bounce-back candidate for next year.  Always a silver lining...

Up Next:
The Astros head home to take on the A's, who have gone off the boil a bit lately.

Scott Feldman (7-9, 4.37) versus Jeff Samardzija (5-10, 3.27)

8 Eastern, 7 Central.