Saturday, October 3, 2015

Astros exercise bats, exorcise some demons

Well that got out of hand pretty quickly. The Astros set a club record with 21 runs in a 21-5 win over the Diamondbacks last night in Arizona. More on that in a minute, let's see what else happened.

*Mike Trout hit a leadoff triple in the 9th and scored on Albert Pujols' single to beat the Rangers 2-1.

*The Royals beat the Twins 3-1. And the Twins were sad...
The Minnesota Twins clubhouse, clouded so often this season by fog machines for the post-victory dance parties, was crystal clear and eerily quiet...

Oh really...fog machines and dance parties in the clubhouse? How novel.

So that leaves us with two games to play and...

AL West:
Ramgers (87-73): -
Astros (85-75): 2.0 GB
Angels (84-76): 3.0 GB

2nd Wild Card:
Astros: -
Angels: 1.0 GB
Twins: 2.0 GB

If the Astros win tonight, the Twins are eliminated and it guarantees at least a G163 with the Angels. If the Astros lose tonight and the Angels win, they are tied for the final Wild Card spot with Sunday's game remaining.
If the Astros win and the Angels lose tonight, Houston clinches the final Wild Card spot.

Astros @ Diamondbacks

Astros runs by inning: 3, 2, 1, 1, 0, 3, 7, 4, 0

Arizona manager Chip Hale:
We just couldn't slow them down. Tonight we will take a shower and get rid of this game and have a better one tomorrow. 

A.J. Hinch:
It was a good night for us. We swung the bats extremely well, from the beginning all the way to the end and really did a lot of damage. So I was proud of our guys. We showed up at the right time, and what a game. We haven't had a game like that in a long time, and it was nice to be on the winning end of that.

You have never seen anything like that, because the Astros had never scored 20+ runs before. Diamondbacks fans had never seen anything like that, because they had never allowed 21+ runs before.

Why did Keuchel pitch the 6th?

Dallas Keuchel became the Astros' first 20-game winner since Roy Oswalt in 2005 and the 2nd lefty pitcher to win 20+ games in franchise history, the first since Mike Hampton did it in 2009.

Which is cool and all, but he came back out for the 6th inning, because pitching six innings looks shiny for idiot BBWAA voters who don't pay attention. This is routine behavior for BBWAA voters. But Keuchel ended up throwing 99 pitches in a game that was 7-2 by the time he qualified for the win. Going back out there for the 6th - after the Astros had scored three more runs to make it 10-2 - resulted in Keuchel throwing 21 more pitches. Take this with as many grains of salt as you like, but I would feel a lot better about Keuchel throwing a potential Wild Card game on three days rest at Yankee Stadium after having thrown 78 low-leverage pitches as opposed to 99 pitches. Maybe 21 pitches isn't that big of a deal, but it seemed silly to me.

But A.J. Hinch didn't want to talk about the possibility of Keuchel pitching on Tuesday:
To be honest with you I'm comfortable with McHugh pitching tomorrow in a really important game. That's as far as I'll look.

Keuchel isn't bothered by it and, hell, maybe we shouldn't be, either:
I could pitch tomorrow if I need to.

Correa breaks Berkman's record

Carlos Correa was a double short of the cycle, and Hinch pulled him before he could get it:
I wanted the cycle, but Skip told me I'm done. I'm not going to be like, 'Hey, I want to play. I want a double.' It would be selfish to think about myself and being ready for the next day in case something happens that gets me hurt when the game is not even close. 

With Correa's 22nd homer of the season, he broke the record for homers by a rookie set by Lance Berkman.

Meat Wagon Update

*Carlos Gomez's intercostal was strained again thanks to the double-play laser he threw on Wednesday night to end the Mariners game on an 8-3.
*Jed Lowrie sat out last night but Hinch says he could have started.
*Did we know that Pat Neshek has been dealing with a stress fracture in his foot?
*Will Harris's 2nd child was born, and he went home to Louisiana. He'll be back in Arizona today.

Saturday Slate:

Hector Santiago takes on Colby Lewis at 12:05pm in Arlington. Santiago has a 1.48 ERA in his last five starts against the Rangers in 2015. Colby Lewis has a 9.11 ERA in his last five starts against the Angels dating back to 2014.

Yordano Ventura takes on Tommy Milone at 12:05pm in Minnesota. Ventura has 49 strikeouts in his last 42 IP (seven starts). Minnesota Tommy Milone has a 5.09 ERA in his last seven starts.

Collin McHugh gets the start for the Astros, facing Jeremy Hellickson who was a member of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. McHugh has a 3.63 ERA in his last seven starts and threw 7IP, 8H/1ER, 6K:1BB in his one start against Arizona this season. Hellickson has allowed 7H/3ER in his last 11IP but got lit up for 6ER in 3IP back in August against the Astros.

Other Links

*Jonah Keri breaks down the Astros' September:
Want to end up 11-16 in September? Start by making sure your pitchers have both their worst and their unluckiest month of the season. 

*Check out Jay Jaffe's Team Entropy update if you're just rooting for chaos.

*17 Clear-Eyed, Full-Hearted Facts About "Friday Night Lights"