MIAMI, FL - APRIL 13: Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins steals second base against the Houston Astros at Marlins Park on April 13, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
The first extra-innings game of the season did not end well for the Astros, as it came on a walk-off double by Gaby Sanchez against (shock!) Brandon Lyon. The game did feature a lot of positives for the Astros though, including defensive heroics by Carlos Lee at first base, the first home run in the history of Marlins Park by J.D. Martinez, three or four double plays, and a slew of walks and steals by Jordan Schafer.
Hitter of the Game: J.D. Martinez (2-run blast in the 8th Inning)
Pitcher of the Game: Francisco Rodriguez (2 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K)
Defender of the Game: Carlos Lee (Yes, even despite the error. See below)
At 6:05 PM I tuned into Fox Sports Houston and promptly threw up my lunch. And by "threw up my lunch," I’m tapping into a metaphor to express my aghastness (aghasticity?) at the Nickolodeon-esque monstrosity that looms over center field in the new Marlins ballpark. When I was a kid, my little sister owned a 300-piece Rainbow Bright jigsaw puzzle. As I gazed at the spectacle on TV, an image of this nauseatingly colorful puzzle popped into my mind. The similarities are eerie. With any luck, Chris Johnson will launch a home run into deep center, hit the sweet spot on that megalith, and cause it to come crashing down into little, irreparable bits. It’s like the designer said, "Tal’s hill is the most obnoxious feature in Major League Baseball right now. Let’s see if we can top that."
Also, could they have at least tried to make the paint around the outfield wall and stands match the grass’ shade of green? It’s so almost close that it’s jarring on the eyes. The fish tanks behind home plate are awesome though.
What follows are random thoughts that occured to me throughout the game.
- Offense: I'm excited that Schafer leads off the game with a walk and steal, then scores on an RBI single by Lowrie. All games should start this way. Score Astros 1 Marlins 0.
- Pitching: Darn, Reyes leads off with a single, like he does. Bet he steals like Schafer. And he steals.
- Defense: Castro does a lot better with the throw to 2nd than John Buck did did against Schafer. Just a bit late to catch Reyes. Bummer.
- Defense: Chris Johnson makes a terrible throw almost over Carlos Lee's head. That was one terrible throw, which is doubly disturbing because he had so much windeup time before throwing. With that kind of time, his throw should have been deadly accurate. But on second thought, Carlos Lee continues to impress me at 1B.
- Defense: Bogusevic trying to be clever on defense leads to a run. Announcers praising the effort, and the effort was good. But with his arm, probably better to catch it on a bounce, and throw it in. At least that would have had a decent chance of keeping the runner at 3rd.
- Pitching: Stop the bleeding, Harrell… Score Astros 1 Marlins 2
- Offense: Oh how I love to see Altuve taking close pitches for balls.
- Apparently, the Marlins have cheerleaders. This is something I have not seen before in baseball..
- Pitching: Harrel is not pitching so well. Bases loaded for Hanley Ramirez. Most pitchers would like to avoid such situations.
- Pitching: Well, the bases are no longer loaded, because of a wild pitch. Score Astros 1 Marlins 3.
- Defense: Nice throw by Lowrie. He should tutor Johnson how to throw across the infield with two outs. Blissfully, the inning is over.
- Defense: Just a fantastic defensive play by Altuve on a nasty grounder from Stanton. Practically fell over nabbing that one, but spun around like a dervish to get the ball to first in time. TV announcers are praising loudly.
- Defense: Carlos Lee tries to get a double play by throwing to 3rd. Too bad 3rd base was not covered. Harrell makes a valiant effort but can't get there. Whoops, that's an error. Score Astros 1 Marlins 4.
- Hitting: 7 Game hitting streak for J.D. Martinez. Overall, I’ve been impressed with Astros hitters this season, but I wish they’d capitalize on more opportunities to score runs.
- I’m happily enjoying the announcers’ discussion of fish anatomy. Nobody compares to the Astros’ TV team.
- Hitting: Carlos gave that ball a ride to the warning track, but not enough oomph. I wonder if this park is pitcher- or hitter-friendly? Will be a couple seasons before we know for sure. Sample size and all that.
- My wife is wondering what nationality "Bogusevic" is. I don’t know, I’ll need to look it up.
- Hitting: That’s two long drives (CJ) that died on the Left Field warning track. How deep is it out there?
- 386’ to LC. That’s pretty deep.
- Hitting: Another hit for Castro, plating Martinez. Score Astros 2 Marlins 4.
- Hitting: Great at-bat by Altuve. He swung a bit early on that last pitch or it would have been crushed. But seven pitches makes me really happy for him. I'm still uber impressed by his adjustments from last season.
- Good grief, those hot dogs that they zoomed in on look realy nasty on my 50" TV.
- Hitting: 3.73 Pitches per Plate Appearances for the team last season. 3.84 this season. Heading in the right direction.
- Pitching: Harrell still struggling. Good time for a mound visit, Mr. Mills.
- Defense: Heck of an effort on that play to get Bonifacio at 2nd. Just barely missed Ramirez at first. Altuve got some serious air on that one. Air-tuve?
- Defense: And THERE is the double play to get Ramirez and Stanton. All’s well that ends well.
- Offense: That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Justin Maxwell. I had no idea what he looks like. Now I do. I also know what he looks like when he strikes out. I’ve learned a lot about Justin Maxwell tonight.
- Offense: Reyes butchered that over-shoulder catch. Yes, difficult, but it resulted in a double for Schafer unless ruled an error. Yep, it’s an error. Oh, well, we’ll take the baserunner anyway.
- Offense: I’m liking Lowrie’s plate discipline. Laid off a close inside pitch and a wide outside pitch in sequence, then got burned by a bad strike call on a pitch way outside. Now he’s off to first on a 5-ball walk. That’s rare.
- Reyes. Bonifacio. Ramirez. Infante. Coughlan. The Marlins sure have a speedy team.
- Baserunning: Nice double steal! Lowrie and Schafer with Carlos not even pretending to care about that pitch. Great play call, great execution.
- Pitching: David Carpenter now pitching for the Astros. I hate to say it, but even though it’s early in the game, Harrell was making me nervous. This just wasn’t his night. I feel he’s lucky to only get away with 4 runs earned. Pitch F/X showed that a good many of his pitches were right down the chute.
- Defense: There’s that warning track again in Left Field. I thought Gaby Sanchez smoked that one; Carpenter caught a break. Nice job by Martinez getting in position for the catch.
- Uneventful half-inning. That’s a nice switch after the last two.
- Wow, another uneventful half-inning. On to the sixth.
Nothing really happened in the sixth inning, so here's a picture of the homemade fruit tart I'm eating:
- Defense: Great defense by Lee getting the ball to Lowrie on a 3-6 double play.
- Offense: I don’t’ know how to pronounce Cishek. Just saying. That dude has a wicked 2-seamer though. His 2nd pitch wasn’t good enough to defeat Altuve though! Nice single.
- My wife doesn’t think it’d be a good idea to name our child after Marwin Gonzalez. She’s probably right, though Marwin Perry is the type of name that would guarantee fame and riches.
- Offense: Crud. While I was typing, the Marlins got a double play on Gonzalez and Altuve. That ball was hit in exactly the worst spot for Altuve as a baserunner. Keep running and he gets tagged. Slam on the brakes, and he’s in a rundown.
- Offense: There’s that nasty 2-seam fastball again. Schaefer goes down for the 3rd out. Just a great pitch.
- Pitching: Wilton Lopez pitching for the Astros now. David Carpenter pitched really well, only one long fly ball out. Lopez starts with a nice strikeout of Ramirez.
- Defense: Another awful throw from Johnson, and another brilliant save by Lee over at first. Lee had to tag the runner; very well done. Johnson owes Lee a drink after tonight.
- Is that a T-Shirt cannon or a Harpoon Gun that Marlin mascot is holding?
- Defense: Another fly ball to that Left Field warning track. Good grief!
- Offense: J.D. Martinez smokes the ball for a 2-run HR....TO LEFT FIELD! Amazing. Did I hear them say that was the first home run in Marlins stadium? One for the record books; that's 3 Home Runs for Martinez this season. Score: Astros 4 Marlins 4
- Pitching: 1 pitch, 1 out for Lopez in the bottom of the 8th. Efficiency is to be applauded.
- Defense: Nice double play by the Astros. They really turn it quickly and smoothly. 6-4-3. I'm really enjoying the Astros' middle infield tonight.
- Heath Bell makes too much money. No reliever should make that much money. Is Ed Wade the new GM of the Marlins?
- Offense: Wow, a rare strikeout of Altuve. Nice pitching. I'd rather see Altuve taking borderline pitches for strikes than swinging at garbage though, so I'm not going to complain.
- Offense: Nice, Astros with two men on--Schafer and Lowrie--both on walks! Two walks for Schafer. I'm starting to warm up to the Astros' CFer.
- Offense: 3rd walk in a row, this one to J.D. Martinez. Heath Bell is not doing well. He almost has as many balls thrown in this inning as dollars earned. If he pitches 60 innings this season, that's 100,000 balls, or 25,000 walks. Alas, weak contact from Carlos Lee on a good pitch and the side is retired.
- Pitching: Fernando Rodriguez smokes Greg Dobbs with a nasty curveball that was almost 20 mph slower than his fastball. Best pitch of the night so far.
- Defense: CJ absolutely redeems himself by diving over the wall to catch a foul ball. Ridiculous! Looks like it's extra innings!
- Offense: Yuck, Choate threw a really nasty curveball to get Bogusevic. Bogusevic is really struggling to start the season. Perhaps he should be dropped in the lineup to take some pressure off.
- I love hearing the Astros announcers talking about LOOGY's (Lefty-One-Out-GuY).
- Offense: Astros go down with a whimper in the top of the 10th. Something about Choate's pitches really stymied them.
Pitching: F-Rod strikes out Ramirez looking. That's two K's for Ramirez.
Defense: Fantastic job by Lowrie getting to a grounder up the middle. Fantastic spin throw. Fantastic dig by Lee at first. Another "blue star" for Lee. I don't find myself missing Barmes at short either. Lowrie is having a really nice first game as an Astro.
Defense: Another ball dies at the Left Field warning track. What is that - six long flies run down at the wall in left? In most other parks, this game would be 12-8 because of all the pulled home runs. Not tonight. Going to the eleventh!
- Defense: Coughlan hits a pitch off Lyon's leg. Ouch! Johnson flubs another play, mishandling the ball so he can't get it to Lee in time.
- The Marlins are advertising something called Miccosukee behind home plate. That's awesome.
- Pitching: Walk off double by Sanchez against Lyon. Shades of 2011.