Thursday, June 9, 2016

From the Office of the County Clerk - G61: Astros in Arlington

Douglas Wildes Fister (5-3, 3.51) versus Sefat Farid Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.38)

Huzzah!  After being too busy (read: depressed) to do a Game Recap for another gosh-darn 1-run loss against the Ramgers, I return home late (after taking wifey to the airport and finishing work late and resisting the urge to set up my new computer plus having to get the kids to school in the morning) and joyously report on the End Of The Skid.  Both the season skid (8 games) and the Arlington skid (12 games) ended with a mighty 3-1 beat-down against the Ramgers ace, who left with mental weakness shoulder fatigue.  Also unable to cope leaving with a sore hamstring was their future HoF third baseman in a game that will definitely, absolutely change the landscape of the AL West.  Well, not really.

More accurately - good, tight game, well pitched and defended on both sides, but for once the Astros came out on the right side of the ledger.  Was going to happen at some stage, right??

MarGo at first base, Gattis at DH, Carlos Gómez in CF.

On the Mound:
Doug Fister had a solid six inning outing, eventually yielding to Michael Feliz to start the seventh.  Fister worked around 8 baserunners (7 hits, 1 walk), striking out five, and allowing one earned run.  Fister never managed a perfect inning, and two of the hits were for doubles, but it is Rangers home runs that have hurt the Astros all series and Fister managed contact well enough to avoid anything leaving the park.

In his better innings, he only allowed one baserunner.  In the first inning, he allowed only a two-out single to Nomar Mazara, who simply took a fastball away and flicked it into LF for a single.  Fister badly fooled Beltré to end the frame.  In the second, a one-out Elvis Andrus double (on a middle-middle fastball) split the gap in RF.  He was stranded, however, when the next two Rangers went in order.  In the fifth inning, a Desmond single with two outs, then a stolen base and throwing error advanced him to third, but Mazara popped out for the final out.

In Fister's poorer innings, he worked around multiple baserunners.  In the third - the inning in which he allowed his lone run - Bobby Wilson slashed at a high-inside fastball, and the result was a single down the first-base line (MarGo was playing off the bag).  Then two pitches later Rougned Odor bounced a ground ball up the middle into CF, sending Wilson to third.  Runners on the corners, no outs, and Wilson scored on the following pitch when Ian Desmond hit a soft grounder to second base for the RBI groundout.  A line-out and pop up ended the frame without further damage.

In the fourth inning, Fister hit Prince Fielder, the lead-off hitter, with a pitch, but he was promptly erased on a 6-unassisted-3 double-play. Just as well, because Mitch Moreland hit the next ball deep to LF, off the wall about a foot short of a home run.  That was a double, and the last out was recorded on a pop-up.  In the sixth inning, more multiple baserunners - a Beltré single leading off, then two strikeouts, then a walk, and finally a ground-out to second to mark the end of Fister's night.  He left with the game tied, but got credit for the win when the Astros scored two runs in the top of the seventh.

Feliz got the assignment for the seventh inning, and he retired the side in order on a groundout, and two fly-outs.  Tony Sipp opened the eighth, and he immediately allowed baserunners on a clean single up the middle, a fielder's choice and a seeing-eye single (under Correa's glove).  Pat Neshek - now being used nearly exclusively as a righty specialist - relieved with runners on first and second and one out, and it took him three pitches to entice Elvis Andrus into a 5-6-3 GIDP to end the frame.  Will Harris got the ninth, and he allowed a solitary single (a one-out slash against the shift) in facing four batters, stranding the game tying run at the plate on an evil curveball that Rougned Odor chased.  Jason Castro got the force at first to end the game, and the hoodoo was broken.

At the Plate:
The first two pitches of the game missed the strike zone.  Down 2-0 in the count, Darvish tried to throw a fastball on the inner part of the plate to George Springer.  Springer must have been sitting fastball, plus the pitch was elevated a touch, so he turned on it and hammered a low fly-ball home run well into the left field bleachers for an early lead.  Springer has been a little banged up recently, which may explain the 0-12 streak that he broke with that shot.

After a two-out Rasmus (0-3, BB) walk in the first, the side went in order in the second.  Jason Castro walked and stole second as George Springer stuck out, and then tried to score on Altuve's hard single up the middle.  Ian Desmond fielded the ball cleanly, then fired a laser to the plate to cut down Castro - a perfect throw, and Castro never got to touch home.  Carlos Correa (0-4) struck out to end the frame.  In the third, Valbuena (1-3, BB) led off with a grounder down the first-base line that Mitch Moreland was unable to come up with, and the ball got lodged between the batting and the dirt, keeping Valbuena at second.  Evan Gattis (0-4, BB) hammered one to the warning track in LF two pitches later, but the catch was made against the wall.  Then Carlos Gómez (0-3, BB) walked, putting runners on first and second, but MarGo struck out on a curveball down to end the frame.  A two-out Altuve walk was the only action in the fifth, and a one-out Valbuena walk was the only action against reliever Shawn Tolleson in the sixth.

Ex-Mariner and ex-bartender Tom Wilhelmsen got the seventh, and he was immediately in trouble when MarGo hit a clean single up the middle.  González got around an elevated fastball away, and grounded it up the middle.  Jason Castro (0-3, BB) followed with a strikeout on a curveball marginally away (the first pitch of the at-bat was well out of the strike zone but still called a strike), then George Springer moved MarGo to second when he hit a fastball down-and-away past a diving Odor into RF.  That brought up José Altuve with one out, and he jumped on the first pitch he saw, hitting a hard line-drive grounder down the LF line, scoring Springer from first (and MarGo from second, of course).  The ball took a huge rebound from where the stands jut out, and the only reason Springer scored without a throw is because Altuve basically sacrificed himself going for third, allowing for an easy tag out between second and third.

And that was the scoring for the Astros.  Wilhelsen came out for the eighth, and recorded a perfect frame, striking out two.  Luke Jackson got the ninth, and he allowed a double to Marwin González (2-4, 2B) with one out as his only baserunner.

Turning Point:
Uh, the last out.  Hear me out here.  The Astros don't need to remember a turning point of the game - they need to remember a seasonal turning-point against the Ramgers.  Finally a win in Arlington.... may it lead to many more.  BTW - the silver boot is pretty much gone, with the Astros losing the season series 8-1.  Yikes.

Man of the Match:
The top two on the Astros' batting card.  George Springer went 2-5, HR and José Altuve went 2-3, BB, 2B, SB, 2RBI.  Just as well, because most other Astros did little at the plate.

Goat of the Game:
No need for negativity.  Not with a one-game winning streak at Globe Life Park.

On the Morrow:
Stupid Ramgers in stupid Arlington again.

Collin McHugh (5-4, 4.97) against Martín Pérez (4-4, 3.24)

2 Eastern, 1 Central.

After this game, the Astros fly east to Tampa for three against the 27-31 Rays.  Cockroach will recap the next four games, so be sure to log in and revel in his silky recapping skills.

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