Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.75) vs Dallas Keuchel (10-9, 3.12)
Chris. Carter. Is. A. BOSS. No man in the Majors had more than Carter's 18 home runs since July 1. Only three men in the Majors - Nelson Cruz (34), Giancarlo Stanton (33), and Jose Abreu (33) - had more than Carter's 31 home runs overall. Add one to both columns for cHRis tonight, and in so doing, add one to the win column for the Astros too. On one mighty swing in the bottom of the 8th, Carter turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 triumph, and the win is #56 of the season for Houston - tying their 2011 total and surpassing 2012, with 29 games left to go.
On the Mound:
*Unlike last night, when the pitching advantage clearly tipped in Oakland's favor, Dallas Keuchel was every bit as effective as Jason Hammel tonight. It was defense that had made the difference in the score - Keuchel's own error in the 1st led to an unearned run, while Jonny Gomes saved two runs for Hammel (and robbed Chris Carter) on a diving catch in the 3rd. Apart from that, Kid Keuchy was his typical dependable self, turning in his fifth quality start in his last six games, on a 7 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 3 K line. 118 pitches, 72 for strikes, and a typically extreme 17:2 GB:FB ratio.
*No Goatpen action tonight, as Josh Fields pitched a perfect 8th.
*Then staked to a lead, Chad Qualls came on and earned his 15th save for a perfect 9th with 1 K.
At the Plate:
*CHRIS CARTER. Homered for the second night in a row, for the 11th time in August, and the 19th time since July 1 - tonight another typical monster shot onto the train tracks in left. He should have had Houston in the lead even before the 8th, too, as he stroked a sinking liner to left with runners on second and third in the 3rd that seemed destined to become a 2-run double - but that's where diving Jonny Gomes came in. But no matter, Astros won anyway, and cHRis finished 1x4 with 2 K and 3 RBI.
*Dexter Fowler was responsible for Houston's other run, also on a home run, knocking a solo shot to right leading off the 4th, for his 8th HR of the year. Dexter ended up 1x4.
*Jose Altuve was 1x3 with a double, and a HBP preceding Carter in the 8th that also gave him a run scored.
*Robbie Grossman was 0x4, but reached on an error preceding Carter in the 8th, and therefore also scored once.
*Marwin Gonzalez went 1x3, Jon Singleton (0x2, 2 K) had a walk, and that was it for Houston's offense. So thank God for Chris Carter.
CHRIS CARTER. Marc Krauss grounded out on Luke Gregerson's first pitch of the 8th, then two pitches later, Grossman reached on a missed catch by Oakland 1B Stephen Vogt. Gregerson's next pitch hit Altuve, then on a 1-1 fastball, CHRIS CARTER happened.
Man of the Match:
CHRIS CARTER. But Dallas Keuchel was pretty boss, too.
Goat of the Game:
For the second night in a row, Houston's 5-9 hitters (except Marwin) were held collectively hitless (0x11, BB, HBP). Castro & Co. gotta pick it up.