Tuesday, April 12, 2016

From the Office of the County Clerk - G8: Astros v. Kansas City

Mike Fiers (0-0, 9.00) v. Kris Medlen (0-0, -.--)

Looking to lead the Astros back to .500 for the first time since the season's second game, Mike Fiers was mostly brilliant against a Royals team he had not faced since the 5th inning of ALDS Game 5. Will Harris and Luke Gregerson were equally brilliant in relief over the last 3 innings tonight. The problem for Houston was that "mostly." A 3-run Lorenzo Cain homer, 3 batters into the game, was just enough to send Fiers and the Astros to a 3-2 defeat. Houston drops to 1-1 at MMP, and 3-5 overall.

On the Mound:

On Mike Fiers' third pitch of the game, Alcides Escobar singled to center. On Fiers' sixth pitch of the game, Mike Moustakas singled to right. On Fiers' twelfth pitch of the game, Lorenzo Cain hit a line-drive homer to left, mounting the Royals to a 3-0 lead before anyone recorded an out. After that, there is no hyperbole in saying that Fiers was brilliant, with a one-one double in the 2nd being Kansas City's loudest strike that followed. 6 IP / 3 H / 0 R / 1 BB / 3 K after the first three hitters of the game. Never two runners on at once, never any runner past second base. But every batter counts, and the rough start to Mike's start was disappointingly the Astros' end.

Will Harris handled duties in the 7th and 8th, allowing only a two-out infield single by Paulo Orlando in the former, while striking out two. Then Luke Gregerson got a non-save appearance in the 9th, walking Alex Gordon with one out but retiring his other three hitters, including one K.

At the Plate:
The Astros struck back fast against Kris Medlen in the bottom of the 1st, though obviously not quite as hard as the Royals had struck Fiers. Jose Altuve (0x4, K) led off with a walk, then George Springer (2x4, BB, K) singled him up to second. Carlos Correa (1x3, BB, K) GIDP'd, erasing himself and Springer, but moving Altuve up to third. Then Colby Rasmus doubled home Altuve on a liner to center, and Tyler White singled home Rasmus on a grounder to right, narrowing KC's lead to 3-2. It would happen that was the last of the scoring offense for either team, so missed chances made up the rest of the night.

The Astros lost two runners on the bases in the 3rd, with Springer getting picked off after a leadoff single, and Rasmus lining into a hard-luck double play that caught Correa in a rundown. Carlos Gomez was stranded at third after a double in the bottom of the 4th. Medlen walked two but escaped in the 5th, Joakim Soria allowed a single and a walk but escaped in the 8th, then Wade Davis came on for bottom 9. More on that...

Turning Point:
...right here. Davis is typically among the best in the business, and he was set to face Houston's bottom three, but uncharacteristic control issues (and/or extraordinary patience and discipline from Astros hitters) made this either team's best scoring chance after the 1st. Beardless Evan Gattis, fresh off the DL, worked the count full before striking out on a check swing. Luis Valbuena worked the count full before drawing a walk. Jake Marisnick pinch ran for Valbuena, then Jason Castro likewise earned a full count before taking a free pass. With the tying run in Marisnick at second, Jose Altuve worked the count full before flying out to right. Then George Springer worked a full count, fouled off a pitch, and ended the game on strike three looking. Of 33 pitches, Davis threw only 16 strikes; rarely will you get a better chance to get to him.

Man of the Match:
George Springer at least reached base three times, going 2x4 with a walk. But we'll give Colby Rasmus the nod, going 2x4 with a double and contributing directly to both Houston runs - driving in one and scoring the other. Honorable mention to after-the-first-three-batters Mike Fiers and the Houston bullpen, who at least gave the Astros a chance.

Goat of the Game:
First-three-batters Mike Fiers, I guess, but maybe moreso Houston's 7-9 hitters. Their 9th-inning patience notwithstanding, Houston's bottom three spots (Gattis, Valbuena, Erik Kratz, and PH Preston Tucker) combined to go 0x10 with 8 K.

Up Next:
Scott Feldman (0-1, 9.00) v. Yordano Ventura (0-0, 3.60)
8:10 Eastern, 7:10 Central.