Tuesday, May 3, 2016

G26:Twins @ Astros

I was hoping that my first game recap would include the Astros getting the W on the first night of their ten game home stand. Not only for the fact that it is my first game recap but also because we all know coming into this stretch of home games that the Astros need to dominate. Instead, the home team was dominated. Earlier in the day as I was thinking about the game I felt pretty good about the possibility of a win & I also really liked the look of the lineup. I am a fan when both Luis Valbuena & Marwin Gonzalez make the cut for the game. I’m going to stick with the usual game recap format used here, so let’s get into this.

On The Mound:
The orange shirts & fake beards sprinkled next to left field showed that the bearded one would have the chance to keep his home winning streak going. The first pitch of the night by Dallas Keuchel was a solid fastball called for a strike and the first plate appearance of the night by Danny Santana would end in a strikeout. Seemed like a good omen. This would be followed by a line drive from Brian Dozier to Colby Rasmus. Next, Keuchel issued a walk to Joe Mauer & then Miguel Sano grounded out into a double play to end the inning.

The second inning would be a pretty quick one with a Byung Ho Park single out to right field, a strike out for Eduardo Escobar & finally Eddie Rosario would ground out to a double play. The third was Keuchel’s best inning of the night. John Ryan Murphy, who would later be ejected from the game for arguing a pitch with the home plate umpire Jerry Layne, would ground out to Valbuena, Eduardo Nunez would do the same to Gonzalez & Keuchel would strikeout Santana for the second time in as many plate appearances.

Onto the fourth inning where things took an unfortunate turn. I’m going to try to go through this quick. A challenged ground out recovered by Correa fired to Gonzalez was overturned for a single by Dozier. Next, Mauer did ground out. Sano would be the recipient of Keuchel’s second walk of the evening & Byung Ho Park would be gifted the third one to load the bases with one out. Eduardo Escobar would single on a ground ball to bring home Dozier, tie up the game (1-1) & keep the bases loaded. Rosario would be called out on a sacrifice fly to bring Sano to home plate and give the Twins the lead (2-1). Here is where I feel that the strike zone may have shrunk a bit. Another walk is issued to Murphy to once again load the bases followed by yet another walk, this time to Nunez to force score Park making it 3-1 with two outs. Keuchel would get his relief from the inning when Luis Valbuena would pick up the ground out from Santana and send it to Jose Altuve, tagging out Nunez at second base.

The fifth inning would bring more trouble for the Astros. With Keuchel still on the mound, Dozier singled on a bunt ground ball. Mauer would send a fly ball out to George Springer for an impressive back peddling catch. Sano would single on a line drive out to right field sending Dozier to second base. Next, Park tripled out to center field, sending Colby Rasmus the the top of Tal's Hill to retrieve the ball as Dozier and Sano would score giving the Twins a larger lead at 5-1. At this point Josh Fields would come in to get the last 2 outs on a pop out caught by Castro behind home plate and a fly out by Preston Tucker.

Top of the sixth, Fields issued a quick strikeout to Kurt Suzuki, who was now catching for Murphy, and an even quicker home run for Nunez making it 6-1. A pop out by Santana to a stumbling Valbuena & a ground out by Dozier would end the inning. Michael Feliz came in for the seventh for a 1-2-3 inning, sending down Mauer, Sano & Park. Same for the eighth. Escobar & Rosario would strike out swinging while Suzuki would pop out to Altuve.

The ninth inning would give Ken Giles the ideal, no pressure situation that would set him at ease and cause him to strike out two of the only three batters he saw. Nunez went down on strikes, Santana sent a ball to the glove of Rasmus, Dozier went down on strikes and I rubbed my face in frustration wondering why we couldn’t get a performance like this from Giles when we really needed it.

At The Plate:
There were 5 hits the entire night by the Astros, so there’s not really a whole lot to say. Tucker launched a home run to right field, a couple walks in the third ended in Gattis crushing our hopes and grounding out to a double play. The fifth inning is where some action at the plate. The first bit came when Twins catcher Murphy was ejected for turning around to the umpire after a clear strike was not called on Altuve. The next ball would strike out Altuve and bring up Springer for a dinger to right field and putting a crooked number on the board for the Astros (6-2). Correa would ground out to end the inning. Preston Tucker would get a hit in the sixth and Altuve doubled in the seventh. The bottom of the ninth would get our fragile hopes up as Tyler White would walk, Castro would single and Altuve would come to the plate. Unfortunately, a simple ground out would end the game.

Turning Point:
The fourth inning and all of those darn walks. While Keuchel wasn’t necessarily a victim of the HP umpire there were some borderline calls on the Nunez & Santana PA’s as the strike zone seemed to magically shrink a bit. Keuchel looked good through three but the fourth he looked closer to Ken Giles than himself (no, not the Ken Giles of tonight).

Man of the Match:
I’m going to go with Michael Feliz who had an impressive outing, allowing no one on base and striking out 4 of the 6 batters he saw.

Goat of the Game:
Keuchel. Man, that stinks to say.

Collin McHugh takes the mound opposite Twins’ RHP Alex Meyer who will be making his first Major League start.

This team has serious talent and for whatever reason it is not being displayed. 3 years ago we could laugh at ourselves. Even 2 years ago we could laugh a little about it. Then 2015 came with a trip to the post season and expectations flew. By now in 2016, that win column was supposed to be in the double digits and instead, the loss column is enjoying that distinction. These next 9 home games could set up momentum for the remainder of the season. Call me Captain Obvious but the Astros (and yes, the fans) need these wins.

Side note: Is it too much to ask that by the time the Astros start playing their second game of a four game series in Boston on my birthday, their record shows 18-18? .500 ball for my birthday? (Rasmus & Keuchel merchandise also accepted)