Wednesday, April 20, 2016

From the Office of the County Clerk – G15: Astros @ Rangers

Doug Fister (1-1, 7.59) v. Cole Hamels (2-0, 2.95)

In a season so far full of frustrating losses, this might have been the worst yet. TOOTBLANs and LOBsters were all you can eat, overshadowing what should have been a fine chance to praise the pitching staff. So the Ramgers clinch a win of the series with still one game to go, and the Astros will turn to King Keuchel tomorrow as their last hope of avoiding a sweep. Houston infuriatingly falls 2-1, dropping to 2-6 on the road and 5-10 overall.

On the Mound:
After Doug Fister's first two Astros appearances, it seemed that tonight's matchup of ex-NL East rivals would tilt heavily in Arlington's favor. But in fact that was not at all so. Fister actually did quite a fine job, and this game was immanently winnable for the Astros, primarily due to his work. So let's refrain from the angst temporarily and appreciate his solid effort:

First inning, two-out single by Prince Fielder, but nothing else to note. Second inning, Fister's only (and unfortunately fatal) hiccup, as he walked Ian Desmond with one out, then Rougned Odor followed with a 2-run HR to the second deck in right field. No other runners in the 2nd, none in the 3rd, a one-out double by Mitch Moreland in the 4th that amounted to nothing more. Elvis Andrus' leadoff double in the 5th likewise went nowhere, then with one out in the 6th, Adrian Beltre singled and Moreland walked. But after a coaching consultation on the mound, Fister stayed on and got Desmond and Odor to each line out to right and left, respectively. So 6 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 2 BB / 1 K amounted to easily Fister's best Astros start yet.

Will Harris took over to start the 7th, which began with Andrus reaching on a fielding error by Marwin Gonzalez at third. But Harris followed with two straight K's, and Tony Sipp relieved to end the inning with one more.

The 8th was Hundred Mile Giles time, which is evidently not allowed to pass by without event. Similar to the 7th, the 8th started with an error allowing a runner to reach, but this time the "runner" was Prince Fielder and the error was on Tyler White. Hanser Alberto pinch-ran for Fielder, and Adrian Beltre followed with a double, while Alberto stopped at third. Then Mitch Moreland walked, and Giles found himself stuck in a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Strikeouts are normally here ideal, and strikeouts are normally Ken Giles' specialty, but unconventionally he escaped without damage anyway, getting Desmond and Odor each to fly out, but neither deep enough to score a run. Then the strikeout, getting Andrus on three pitches to end the inning.

At the Plate:
We will (mostly) skip the snarky commentary and instead only present events, as you, dear reader, can certainly provide the angst on your own. 1st inning, both Altuve and Springer are hit by pitches, then after Carlos Correa strikes out, the inning ends on a strikeout/throw-out double play with Tyler White caught looking and George Springer caught stealing.

2nd inning, Colby Rasmus singled, then Evan Gattis singled, then Carlos Gomez bunt singled, and the bases were loaded with no out. Then Marwin Gonzalez flied out to right, Gomez got hung up between first and second, but Gattis advanced to third, leaving Rasmus strung out between third and home. So Gomez was ignored in favor of tagging Rasmus, and Jason Castro grounded out meekly to end the Astros inning without scoring.

3rd inning, Jose Altuve led off with a single, but was thrown out by Desmond trying to stretch it into a double. Springer and Correa flied out uneventfully after.

4th inning, three up, three down, then 5th inning, Marwin reached on Cole Hamels' throwing error after Gomez started the frame with a strikeout. Marwin moved to third on Castro's groundout, Altuve walked, but Springer K'd swinging for out #3.

6th inning, Correa grounded out, then the Astros found the only way to score successfully was by rounding all four bases at once. Tyler White homered on a liner to left center, tying Altuve (!) for the team lead in HR with 5. Rasmus walked, but baserunners are bad, so Gattis GIDP'd to wipe it out.

7th inning, Gomez walked, then moved to 2nd on Marwin's grounder. Gomez boldly stole third before Castro K'd, then when Altuve was HBP again, that ended Hamels' night and brought in Sam Dyson to pitch. Altuve stole second, putting two in scoring position for Springer, but a ground out to Dyson erased that.

8th inning, Correa doubled leading off, White grounded out, and Jake Diekman took over from Dyson in relief. Diekman fanned Rasmus and Gattis to strand Correa, and the 9th brought on Shawn Tolleson again.

Gomez grounded out, Moreland to Tolleson. Preston Tucker pinch-hit and popped up to short. Luis Valbuena pinch-hit and singled to left. Jake Marisnick pinch-ran, but it mattered not, as Altuve flied out to right, ending the game.

As a team, the Astros were 1x12 with RISP (and that 1 was Carlos Gomez' bunt single). As a team, they left 9 men on base. In only one inning did they not have any baserunners, and still they only managed one run. Add your own angst here.

Turning Point:
Every damn inning that the Astros couldn't score. No way the Odor homer should have held up.

Man of the Match:
Doug Fister. When you pitch like this, you will win more often than not.

Goat of the Game:
The entire Houston offense. Brian Hoyer could have done better tonight.

Up Next:
Dallas Keuchel (2-1, 2.18) v. A.J. Griffin (1-0, 3.27)

8:05 Eastern, 7:05 Central.