So the Astros rolled into New York to start a three-game series with the horrid Yankees, who have managed to “squander” the AL East lead (although the Blue Jays have been filthy hot since the trade deadline). The Astros’ recent work on the road has been less than stellar (stats), so either some improved play for some regression to the mean was warranted today.
As some people have pointed out, hard-throwing righties are not a good match up for the Astros. Nate Eovaldi throws about as hard as they come, so perhaps we should have expected a 1-0 walk-off loss to be the final result. Both Texas and the Angels were idle - they were rewarded for their largesse by moving a half-game closer to Houston each.
Going to the shorter format of game-recappery today, in the hope of having some time and energy to do some much needed work afterward.
What went well:
Scott Feldman was magnificent tonight, allowing only six baserunners (all hits) while striking out six. He threw eight strong innings, had a pitch count of 110 when he left, and he lowered his ERA to 3.75. All of the hits that he allowed were singles, and only once was he needed to be bailed out by his defence (see below). The radio guys were talking about Feldman noting that his arm has been fresher than usual since his leg surgery, so perhaps this bodes well going forward.
Carlos Gómez (the guy in the field) kept the Yankees off the board in the seventh frame. Brian McCann opened the inning with a single to right, and when Carlos Beltran singled into the deep RF corner, McCann chugged into third with no outs. Feldman then recorded a vital strikeout of prospect Greg Bird for the first out. With runners on the corners, Chase Hedley hit a hard line drive to medium CF – Gomez caught it and fired a three-hopper home in time for Hank Conger to make the play on Brian McCann, who had tagged up from third. Gómez is definitely quick – all he needs to do is hit a little, and the Astros offence starts to become a bit of a force.
The Astros managed three walks against Nathan Eovaldi. And the culprits weren’t especially likely ones, either. Jose Altuve, Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena all walked. The team also managed four hits off Eovaldi, two to Correa and one to Gattis and Valbuena, all singles. Gattis also recorded a hit off Andrew Miller. So perhaps those five guys are starting to heat up again. Goodness knows, the Astros could do with scoring more than three runs a game.
Over quickly. 2:47, which is speeding when the Yankees are involved. I remember the early-naughties affairs, when the Yanks and Sawx would go nine innings, but still manage to rob my life of four hours.
What went less well:
Another loss hung on a lefty reliever. Oliver Pérez was handed the ball by Scott Feldman after 8 scoreless frames, who, as mentioned above, was awesome. Oliver Pérez was not awesome. He started the ninth frame by walking lefty Brett Gardner, then allowed him to head to second on a wild pitch. That left first base open for an A-Rod intentional walk. Then another walk to another lefty – Brian McCann, who had three hits and a walk in this game. If you are counting at home – and I am sure you are – that loaded the bases with no outs, which left Chadwick Qualls in a near-impossible situation. Qualls was a curious choice to relieve Pérez, for mine. Perhaps it was because he is a groundballer, but I may have gone with Josh Fields (if he was still in the major leagues) or Will Harris, because strikeouts were certainly needed. Anyhow, Qualls allowed a deep fly ball off the bat of ex-Stro Carlos Beltran, which would have been enough to get Brett Gardner home if he had been on crutches. Game Ovah!!
More Caught Stealings and other TOOTBLANS. The sixth frame was the Astros' best scoring chance of the night. Carlos Correa singled to right on a soft line drive, and Colby Rasmus followed with a walk. Carlos Gómez sac-bunted the runners into scoring position with one out. The next batter was Evan Gattis, and he hit a high chopper to the first baseman (Greg Bird), who corralled the ball rather quickly. Greg Bird did well - he looked Correa back to third, Rasmus was caught too far off second, and Bird fired the ball to Didi Gregorius who tagged Rasmus and kept the tag on as Rasmus slid around and past the bag. Rasmus was therefore the second out of the frame, Correa couldn't advance, and the Astros ended the frame without scoring because of a Valbuena fly out for the third out.
Handsome Jake pinch-ran for Evan Gattis after the latter singled leading off the ninth. On a full count, Marisnick went / was instructed to go by A.J. Hinch, and when Valbuena swung and missed at a fastball, McCann had time to get Marisnick for a strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out twin killing. The tag was just in time - a great combined play from McCann and Gregorius. Not good.
I know I harp on about TOOTBLANS quite a bit, and I don’t want to be the guy who always points out the bad and never the good, but I hate losing runners on the bases, and it seems that the Astros are doing it more this year. I can understand the logic behind sending Marisnick - the Astros may have needed two hits off a tough closer to score him - but it still hurts.
Carlos Gómez (the guy who bats). Gomez hasn’t been great with the bat in the American League. He looks like he is pressing a little too much. His triple-slash is a Marisnick-esque .181/.218/.241. He has a bit of a spotty track record – sometimes being all that, and sometimes struggling – but I can’t see them sitting him any time soon. The sac bunt was also interesting... I thought it was a little defensive, but with a better bunt he may have beaten it out.
Does Evan Gattis always hack at the first pitch in vital at-bats?? In the sixth today, he did it again. First pitch grounder, neither runner advanced. Sigh.
Chris Carter had a rough night - 0-4, 3K. Remember this?? Not a good match up for Carter - hard throwing righties sometimes aren't his thing. But still... dude had better get it going.
On the Morrow:
Dallas Keuchel (14-6, 2.37) versus Ivan Nova (5-5, 3.72)
7 Eastern, 6 Central.