Dallas Keuchel (7-1, 1.76) versus Wei-Yin Chen (1-4, 3.21)
This won't be a full game recap - sometimes, by the time I get to them after a day game, it seems a little like recapping what a bunch of people and serious fans already know. But the quick recap is that the Astros - after being so very good last night - missed a handful of opportunities to sweep the O's in a four-game home set. They were a little lacklustre today - some offensive and defensive opportunities were missed and they proved crucial in the final wash-up. Astros lost, 3-2.
Dallas Keuchel wasn't great, but he wasn't really lit up, either. He needed 108 pitches to get through 6 innings. He allowed 7 baserunners (6 hits, 1 walk) and struck out seven. The parts of the game that I watched, he seemed to be missing up more than what he normally does, and I thought that he was a little out of sync. Regardless, he allowed only 2 runs, both earned, and when he left the game, the Orioles had just drawn level.
The first run could so very nearly not have happened. Manny Machado singled to shortstop, then stole second, after Keuchel knuckled down to strike the next two hitters out. Chris Davis then singled just over a leaping and shifted González into RF to drive Machado in. The ball just snuck over the well positioned and shifted infielder.
The second run simply shouldn't have happened. Adam Jones started the rot by reaching on an infield single to second base with one out. The ball bounced off Carter's glove as he tried to make the backhand play, then it ricocheted to Altuve who tried to make the out by throwing to Keuchel covering first, but Kuechel was a hair late. Chris Davis then grounded into the shift, hitting the ball to González on the first-base side of second base. González got between the runner heading for second (Jones) and the bag, and he didn't complete the tag instead preferring the force at first base, possibly thinking that Carter could get the ball back to whomever may be covering second in time for the tag. The lead runner reached second, and he scored when Steve Pearce singled off the end of the bat through the 5.5 hole. Valbuena and González both dove for it, and neither recovered in time to be the cut-off man, so when Villar (starting in left) threw home, Pearce took second. That half-inning was sloppy defensively, and that, along with a couple of other key moments, cost the Astros the game.
The Astros scored on a Hank Conger home run into the Crawford Boxes leading off the third. Conger took a 2-0 inside fastball and crushed it. The second run scored for the Astros when Gattis singled with one out, Carter doubled into LF, sending Gattis to third, and Valbuena drove him in with a sac fly to medium right. Delmon Young missed his throw by 15 feet up the 3B line, and Gattis had already stopped realising he was toast if the throw was on the mark. But it was well wide, and he cruised home to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
But where the Astros really lost the game was in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, they put runners on the corners with no outs on a Springer walk and an Altuve single. Gattis popped out on the first pitch, Carter struck out swinging (on a great pitch) followed by Valbuena. In the seventh, the Astros again put runners on the corners with no outs, then loaded the bases with one out. But González fouled out for the first out, Springer K'd for the second out, and Altuve flew out to CF for the last out.
Credit must go to the Orioles pitching staff, however. Chen struck out nine in 6-and-one-third, and O'Day worked his way out of the jam in the seventh in a very deliberate manner. Zach Britton struck out three for a five-out save.
So perhaps too long in Club Astros last night, or perhaps their minds were already on a charter flight north. Situational hitting with the Astros seems to come-and-go a little at times, and tonight it was definitely gone. Losing a Keuchel start is not what we are used to, and us Astros fans are only tolerant to a point. Losing 300+ games in 3 years is fine for many of us, but not driving the runner in from third with no outs is totally unacceptable.
Anyhow, looking forward to a more timely game recap tomorrow, and given that the Astros sent their frontal lobes to Canada early, perhaps better decision-making will occur tomorrow. The Angels were off today, the Mariners lost, and the Rangers and Athletics both won. So the division leads stand at 5.5, 9.5 and 11.5 over the Angels and Rangers, the Mariners and the Athletics respectively.
Tomorrow, the projected starters are:
Roberto Hernandez (2-4, 4.92) versus Aaron Sanchez (4-4, 3.88)
7 Eastern, 6 Central.