Apr 27, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro (15) is congratulated by team mates after scoring during the third inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE
Full disclosure: I began life as a Reds' fan. I was born in Cincinnati, and my earliest strong MLB memory (other than collecting baseball cards in 1987) is of the Reds' 1990 World Series. But my life took a dramatic turn, and at age six I was in Houston. Eventually, I realized where my true loyalties lay, and I became a proudly converted die-hard Astros fan.
So it is with much glee that I enjoyed the Astros' 6-4 win over the home team of my ancestors. This game contained a lot that is fun about baseball: dominant pitching, strings of scoring, a great pitcher / batter duel, and even a dramatic finish.
Everybody got involved with the offense on this one, though the Astros had no hits after the fifth inning. Of the starting eight, only Matt Downs did not register a run or an RBI. Jose Altuve had two more hits, and Brian Bogusevic had an interesting night, reaching on an infield single, an error, and a walk.
Other than a couple outstanding plays late in the game by Jordan Schafer, most of the plays in this game seemed pretty routine. Frighteningly, Carlos Lee rolled an ankle on the first play in the bottom of the first and left the game. X-Rays were negative, so he'll probably be back in a day or so.
Wandy Rodriguez earned his second win with six dominant innings. He likely would have pitched seven but for an amazing thirteen-pitch battle with Joey Votto in the sixth that ended with a double. The damage was limited, and Wandy left the game with only two runs allowed and six strikeouts. Another great start by the staff ace. The Reds were held to ineffective bloopers and strikeouts all day until Fernando Abad gave up back-to-back home runs in the ninth. Brett Myers came in with one out to earn the save with little additional fuss.
My thoughts during the game are after the jump.
Defense: Glad to see Jason Castro back in the lineup after getting trucked by Mat Gamel a couple days ago.
- Defense: Oh gosh, on the very first play of the bottom of the first, Carlos Lee is down on the ground with a painful looking injury. Looks like he rolled his ankle. I hope he’s ok, for his sake and the Astros’ first base situation. Lee is now walking off under his own power, which is great. Matt Downs is in at First.
- My wife bought me gummy Angry Birds candies. The green pigs taste the best.
- Defense: Castro throws to Downs who guns down Drew Stubbs on an attempted steal at second. Well-played.
- Pitching: Joey Votto was halfway to first base before he realized the ump rang him up! Good job trying to sell ball four, but nobody was buying.
- Offense: Matt Downs is suddenly batting cleanup. This should be an unusual game.
- Offense: Mike Leake has retired five Astros in a row. He isn't throwing like a guy with an ERA of almost 6.00.
- I see a United Dairy Farmers advertisement behind home plate. If you have ever lived in Cincinnati, as I have, you would know that UDF has the greatest chocolate malts ever.
- Offense: Bogusevic reaches by beating out an infield single, then successfully steals second. I hope this helps to spark his bat a little bit, or else he might find himself relegated to the bench in another month. I'm a big fan, BB. Don't let me down!
- Brandon Phillips subscribes to the Gary Sheffield school of bat-wagging. I don't understand how moving the bat that much before the swing helps with bat control. I would think it's the opposite.
- Pitching: 2 K's for Wandy that inning, including a great sequence against Jay Bruce. 4 pitches on the outside corner, one way inside to brush him back, then a fastball on the outside corner to get him swinging. Very well done.
- Offense: Huge mistake by Jay Bruce to dive for an Altuve triple that should have been a single. Scores Jason Castro from 2nd. Score Astros 1 Reds 0.
Offense: J.D. Martinez drives Altuve in again! Score Astros 2 Reds 0. Martinez is on pace for 162 RBI this season. Obviously, he won't get there, but what a fantastic April.
- A commercial comment: Is there really a point to a punch-top beer can? In my experience, most people who are hard-core Miller drinkers really don't care about getting a "smoother pour." Besides, it still tastes like aluminum unless it's from a bottle.
- Pitching: Wandy is dealing tonight. Fifth strikeout of the night. This is the Wandy I like to watch. I'll miss him when he's traded to the Blue Jays as they try to make their first playoffs since the year 1625.
- Tim noted earlier that Zack Cozart is leading the Reds right now in WAR. Shocking, considering he only has 1 Home Run, 3 RBI, and a .275 BA. The Reds are better than this, but they're welcome to keep not proving it.
Inning the Fourth:
Offense: The Reds' defense really stinks tonight, and the Astros are taking advantage. Bogusevic reaches on a hard grounder to Brandon Phillips, moving Jed Lowrie to 3rd. It appears as if Phillips is injured after Bogusevic's grounder takes a bad hop off of his throwing hand. That's an error. Two hits that almost weren't for Bogusevic
- Offense: Lowrie scores on a long RBI double to left by Chris Johnson. Score Astros 3 Reds 0. Not to jinx anything, but I haven't written a recap for an Astros win yet.
- Offense: Castro sacrifice hit to score Bogusevic. Score Astros 4 Reds 0. Phillips' dropped ball a few bullet points ago is starting to bite them.
- Offense: And there's an RBI single for Jordan Schafer! Everybody's getting in on it. Score Astros 5 Reds 0.
- Offense: My fingers are getting tired from keeping up with this. RBI double for Altuve scores Jordan Schafer. Score Astros 6 Reds 0.
- Pitching: Wandy completely fooled Votto with this curveball (#3), to which MLB only gave a nasty factor of 44. I think the Nasty factor calculation needs some work because that pitch was devastating. Votto about came out of his socks with that foul tip.
- I am not a Skyline Chile guy, because ground beef really isn't my thing. However, I am a LaRosa's pizza guy, which alas, I cannot get in Houston. So I ordered Dominos, which is as good a substitute as Downs is for Lee at first. Decent, but not quite the same.
Offense: Bogusevic is on base for the third time, this time on a walk. Slump buster?
- Defense: Pinch RBI double by some guy named Frazier, who apparently had to find another career after his TV show was cancelled. Or after his boxing career ended. Score Astros 6 Reds 1.
- Offense: Wandy's first swing in this at bat was the worst swing I've ever seen. Then, Wandy's second swing in this at bat was the worst swing I've ever seen.
Pitching: This At-Bat between Wandy and Votto is the best battle I've seen all season. Score Astros 6 Reds 2.
- Pitching: Tough inning for Wandy, but only one run scores, and a great K on Jay Bruce.
- Offense: 15 walks for Martinez. He's on pace for 127. Awesome.
- Pitching: Fast inning for Wilton Lopez. Clean and drama-free pitching, that's what I like.
- Defense: Astros' defense is unraveling. First, a wild pitch on a strikeout leads to Stubbs reaching first, and then Stubbs steals second on a throwing error by Castro.
- Pitching: Fernando Rodriguez doesn't look like he knows where his pitches are going tonight.
- I really enjoy Pearls Before Swine. If you are not familiar, you should get familiar.
- Offense: The Astros haven't had a hit since the 5th Inning. Is the game over yet?
- Sam McLure just picked his ear then put his fingers in his mouth on national television. That's gross.
- Pitching: Fernando Abad's first appearance this season. Hopefully he pitches Agood. Also hopefully, that's the only time I use that joke this season.
- Defense: Wizardly catch by Schafer to rob Scott Rolen of a deep extra-base hit. That's his second good run-down of the game. Looks like he hurt himself on the wall though.
- Pitching: ...but he couldn't do it twice. Bruce crushes a homer to right-center. Score Astros 6 Reds 3.
- Pitching: Um...on the next pitch, Devin Mesoraco homers to left. Probably a good time for a pitching change. Score Astros 6 Reds 4. I don't think I'll be using that Agood joke again.
- Pitching: And Brett Myers closes it out with little drama.