Sorry, loyal AC readers. A full working Monday for me (no Memorial Weekend in my part of the world) combined with a day game means that this will be posted around 9 hours after the game finished. Let's just go with a shorter notes-format column, huh? Not that any 13-inning game recap is gonna be short, grumble, grumble....
- Astros win, 8-6, in 13 innings. The game was three minutes shy of five hours. Carlos Correa had the day off, so I imagine he was napping in the clubhouse.... until the thirteenth inning (more on that later). Also in the lineup was Evan Gattis at catcher (his first time catching a non-McHugh starter), Tyler White at first, MarGo at short, Luis Valbeuna at third, Tony Kemp in LF, Colby Rasmus in RF and Handsome Jake in CF. George Springer was leading off and DH-ing.
- And speaking of Handsome Jake, his full name around the AC offices is Handsome, Strong, Fast, Athletic Jake, which is a bit of a handful to say and type. So we call him Handsome Jake. He had a great day, hitting the first home run by an Astros CF in 2016, and hitting the ball hard in the majority of the times at bat. His home run in the fifth inning pulled the Astros ahead. It only just got out in the LF power-alley, but it was a good way to dispose of a hanging curveball. Veteran infielder Chad Pennington gloved a hard-ish liner in the ninth, which was an example of a hard-hit ball that didn't result in a hit. Marisnick's overall line: 2-6, HR.
- José Altuve went 4-6 (all singles) and Luis Valbuena went 1-3, 3xBB: both on base four times each. Tyler White reached base three times (1-4, 2xBB). Evan Gattis doubled while going 2-6.
- Carlos Correa will be remembered as the hero. A three-run drive in the thirteenth, pinch hitting for Tony Kemp, was the deciding shot in the game. The pitch was a 2-1 elevated changeup thrown by Mike Morin. It was a towering shot that only just got out, right around the 390 marker in LF. At the time, MarGo and Tyler White were populating the bases, so the Astros managed to string a bit of a rally together. Correa has had a tough time of it lately, so hopefully this signals the start of a hot streak.
- The Astros walked nine times, versus 12 hits.
- The Astros' record is now 22-29, so they remain tied with the A's (same record) and one game behind in the loss column of the Angels (22-28). Couple more wins, and the 'Stros could ditch the basement!!
- More Astros lost on the bases. Four double plays (three GIDP's), one caught stealing, another runner picked off. Valbuena was gunned down stretching at second as well. One of the GIDP's came with the bases loaded an no outs. That was one of three double plays with no outs. Frikking rally-killers.
- This game was a ding-dong affair. The Angels took the lead at 1-0, then the Astros went 3-1 up. The Angels closed to 3-2, then 4-2, then 4-3, then 5-4 Angels. Then 5-5, which is where it sat until the 13th, when the Angels were only able to counter with one run to the Astros' three.
- Doug Fister managed another solid outing. His line: 6IP, 5H, 3R/1ER, 4BB, 6K. 95 pitches. Not the worst, but an extra MPH or two would be really useful on that fastball.
- Funny moment in the fifth. I was listening on the radio - Marisnick homered and Altuve managed a 2-out RBI for the Astros to take the lead 3-1. Steve Sparks started talking about the veteran Doug Fister, and how he knows that throwing strikes and getting a quick inning would do a lot to help the Astros win. The result?? Five-pitch walk, K, catcher's interference call on a hit-and-run, wild pitch and walk. That loaded the bases for Mike Trout and an infield single was the result, with MarGo shading toward third base only able to knock the ball down. The Pujols GIDP'd to mercifully end the frame. Stop tempting fate, Steve Sparks.
- If Trout and Pujols up with RISP worries you, then rewind to the third frame. Kaleb Coward singled, then C.J. Cron struck out. Kole Calhoun (what is with all these double-initialled hard K's in a row in the Angels lineup) had homered earlier off Fister, so he wasn't going to get a pitch to hit, with Fister walking him on four-straight. That brought up Trout and Pujols. The result?? Two three-pitch strikeouts to end the frame. Yikes.
- Another error in the sixth with one out didn't help Fister. He could have gotten out of that inning if a difficult inning-ending DP could have been turned, too.
- Ken Giles also BABIP'd into blown-save territory again. Leadoff double to deep CF, followed by a one-out wild pitch and walk. That brought up Pujols with runners on the corners and one out. Giles busted him inside on the fists with a 98mph fastball, but Pujols was good enough to bloop it over Altuve at second to put runners on the corners again with a tied game. A safety squeeze was the next play - Giles did well to get an out, but the lead was lost.
- Scott Feldman pitched around a runner on third with two outs. Will Harris had a RISP for the last two outs of his frame. Pat Neshek worked around a one-out triple that turned into a one-out bases loaded situation thanks to IBB's to Pujols and Trout. So some Astros pitchers recorded some clutch outs in tough spots during this game.
- Michael Feliz was the only Astros reliever to record a clean inning. And he was credited with the win - his third on the year.
- Luke Gregerson took the bottom of the 13th with a three-run lead. Strikeout, walk, line-out, double put runners on the corners with two outs. A wild pitch advanced both runners. But a strikeout ended the game. Phew.
- The Astros got slightly hosed by the HP ump. Again. Have a look here.
- Particularly hosed by the ump: Ken Giles on Mike Trout. Before casting your eyes below, remember that Mike Trout is, like 6'4", and that the strike zone plot at Brooks Baseball is standard at three-and-one-half feet, regardless of the height of the batter. The estimators on MLB.com had pitch numbers one and five both in the zone. Getting calls on Mike Trout at home isn't that easy, but if Giles had managed that inning, they wouldn't have had to play 13.
The Astros are in Phoenix for a home-and-home series against the "Natural Rivals du jour", the Diamondbacks. Next year, the Rockies are the "Natural Rivals". How natural is it to change your rivalry every year??
Collin McHugh (4-4, 5.13) versus Edwin Escobar, making his first career ML start (0-0, -.--). Escobar was claimed of waivers from the Red Sox last month, from memory.
4:10 Eastern, 3:10 Central.
The eloquent BatGuy will pinch-hit a game recap tomorrow. Hoping to tie the season-long win-streak too. Thanks for reading.