Mike Fiers versus Nathan Eovaldi
The rubber game of the first series of the year, and it was enough to make Astros fans feel quite nervous. For the second time in two days, the Astros' rotation looked vulnerable, the bullpen faltered, and despite some offensive heroics, they managed to lose. The Astros failed to hold two three-run leads, Ken Giles gave up another home run, and the only success of the opening series came on a slightly streaky Game 1 / Opening Day win. Not. Good.
Astros lost, 8-5.
On the Mound:
Mike Fiers got the start, and as an indictment on his effort, he was pulled after only 82 pitches. Fiers was hittable all night, yielding nine hits and five earned runs against three strikeouts.
Fiers started well enough, retiring the side in order on two fly-outs and a ground-out. In the second, he was staked to a three-run lead, but two singles (including a lead off anti-shift grounder down the LF line from Mark Teixeira) put runners on the corners with no outs. After a line-out, Chase Headley drove in a run with a sac-fly. The suddenly red-hot Starlin Castro then mashed a line-drive off the LF wall and gunned for second, but Colby played the carom perfectly, and Altuve applied the tag in time. That meant an outfield assist kept the scoring in the second to one.
In the third - more hits - as a single, double sequence scored a run with no outs. Fiers bounced back to record the next three outs without the runner advancing off second. In the fourth, Fiers allowed a leadoff home run (McCann curled one around the RF foul-pole on a fastball running arm-side over the middle of the plate) and a two-out home run (towering fly-ball to LF on a fastball that missed arm-side-and-up). A lead-off double in the fifth was followed with a one-out single, scoring the fifth run of the night for the Yankees, negating the early-game offensive outburst for the Astros.
Will Harris kicked off the sixth inning in spite of Fiers' pitch count. He worked around a lead-off error from Valbuena, playing in the shortstop position because of the shift. Harris closed the frame striking out the last two batters. Harris stayed on for the seventh inning, and he recorded the first out of the frame on a routine grounder to short. Brett Gardner followed with a single to RF on a 2-0 count, and Hinch summoned Giles from the 'pen.
The tie game lasted five more pitches. Strike-strike-single to A-Rod. Ball-homer. That would be a three run run shot. Mark Teixeira was the Yankee who hit it. The pitch was a fastball away - probably a little higher than Giles wanted, but still around the knees, and Teixeira rode it just out down the LF line. A cheap opposite-field homer is probably a fair assessment, but it scored three runs, and Giles looked a little annoyed. Giles closed the inning without any more balls leaving the stadium. Sipp got the eighth, and he worked around a two out walk to record a scoreless frame.
At the Plate:
The Astros started the game strongly, despite being retired on six pitches in the first inning (although the last out was very nearly ANOTHER Correa home run to CF). In the second inning, they scored three runs, with all baserunners reaching with two outs. Luis Valbeuna doubled to deep CF (on a back door cutter away), then Tyler White followed with his first home run in the major leagues. That came on an 0-1 pitch inside, and he mashed a deep fly ball to the left side of the batting eye in CF. White looks legit, and may be one of those rare guys who hits more more power in the majors (possibly by virtue of the pure number of triple-digit arms going up against him). Preston Tucker followed with an upper-deck shot down the RF line on a slider breaking over the middle of the plate to make the score three-nil.
Two more strikeouts in a baserunner-less third, then the Astros scored again in the fourth. The first two hitters of the innings both reached (Rasmus on a single, and Gómez on his first hit of the season - a double). With two runners in scoring position, Tyler White drove another two runs in on a seeing-eye ground-ball single to CF. A couple more strikeouts ended the frame.
The next hit was a two-out Valbuena single in the sixth, and that was the last baserunner until the ninth inning. Carlos Gómez opened the ninth with an infield single to short, then, with one out, Tyler White recorded his sixth hit of the young season - another single. But the next two batters struck out - the fifth time of the night that the last two Astro outs of the inning were recorded via strikeout - both on sliders out of the strike zone, down and in to the right-handers. With two on, would have been great to see some balls in platy, but it was not to be tonight.
The top three of the order (Altuve, Springer, Correa) all went 0-4.
Giles' seventh. Poor start to the year for him, after a poor Spring Training. Turn it round, son.
Man of the Match:
The first non-Correa winner - Tyler White. 3-4, 4RBI, HR. Also worthy of comment, Luis Valbuena (2-3, 2B), Carlos Gómez (2-4, 2B, although I thought his single in the ninth could have been scored an error) and Preston Tucker (1-2, HR, still being used as a platoon guy).
Goat of the Game:
Fiers was too hittable, but Giles was the one who wins the goat.
On the Morrow:
Interleague game, against the Brewers at Miller Park. Fiers and Gómez return home.
Scott Feldman (lots of zeros) versus Chase Anderson (ditto)
8 Eastern, 7 Central.