August 29, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (60) pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Tonight's battle between the Astros and the Giants featured two flame throwing lefties in Dallas Keuchel and Barry Zito. The game just had all the undertones of turning out to be a good pitcher's duel, but unfortunately it fell a tad bit short of that. Like Jim DeShaies said during the game, it didn't start well and didn't end well for Keuchel, but he was able to do a lot of good things in between. There were some good and bad things on offense as well. Most of the good came while Zito was on the mound, but unfortunately Bruce Bochy decided to only leave him in for 2.1 innings. From there the Giants bullpen limited the damage while the Giants offense played add-on courtesy of some shaky Astros defense.
The first inning was a mess for Keuchel. The Giants got to Keuchel early with a double, a sacrifice bunt, and a single to plate one. Buster Posey then drew a walk and set the stage for Hunter Pence's 19th homerun of the year, which gave the Giants an early 4-0 lead. After that inning Keuchel settled down and retired fourteen in a row before Pagan led off the sixth with a double. This was the beginning of the end for Keuchel's night as he followed the double up with a long battle with Pablo Sandoval that ended with a base on balls. That ended Keuchels night and he was lifted in favor of Mickey Storey with two on and no one out. His final line ended up being five innings pitched, four earned runs off of five hits and two walks while recording three strikeouts.
Mickey Storey inherited a tough situation, but came in and immediately got a double play to third. He then coaxed another groundball to third to appear to get out of the inning but the newly inserted defensive replacement Scott Moore threw wild to first and kept the inning going. The next batter hit one to the warning track in left where Fernando Martinez almost made a tremendous diving play to end the inning but couldn't hold on to the ball and two more runs scored. Both runs were unearned and Storey did a good job given the situation.
Hector Ambriz then came in and pitched the 7th and 8th and looked pretty good. His final line was two innings pitched, no hits, one walk, and three strikeouts. He also hit a batter in the eighth. He was stronger in the seventh, as both his walk and hit batter came in the eighth inning.
Tony DeFrancesco chose to play matchups in the ninth and used both Xavier Cedeno and Rhiner Cruz that inning. Cedeno retired the two lefties he faced via groundout and strikeout. Cruz walked one and then got out of the inning on a hard hit ball to third baseman Moore who made a good play to end the inning.
The Astros got on the board in the second inning against Zito. With one out Chris Snyder got things started that inning by utilizing one of his best tools (speed) and legged out a double. Later that inning he put the burners together again and scored from second with two outs on a single by Brandon Barnes. The throw beat Snyder to the plate but was slightly offline and Snyder was able to evade the tag by Posey to get the Astros on the board. The Astros struck again for two more in the third and got things started that inning on three consecutive singles by Altuve, Greene, and Wallace. Altuve scored on Wallace's single, and Greene scored on a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Paredes. The Astros got another run back in the sixth when Scott Moore singled in Snyder who had drawn a walk.
The Astros had a total of ten hits and two walks on the night but were unable to do much with runners in scoring position. Out of those nine hits only two of them went for extra bases, a double by Wallace and a double by Snyder. Brett Wallace continues to swing a hot bat, and it was a good sign to see him have so many good swings against southpaws tonight.
It's also worth noting that the Astros bench was without right handed hitters Justin Maxwell and Ben Francisco who are both recovering from minor injuries. This meant that Tony DeFrancesco's bench was limited, and also limited to just left-handed hitters. This unfortunately had to happen against the Giants who have a thousand lefties in their pen.
Defensively most everything was sound except for one play by Scott Moore in the sixth. With two outs it looked like Moore had himself a routine groundball to end a Giants threat but threw wide of first base. The error was followed by a two-run triple to magnify the miscue. Moore did however make a good play in the ninth on a hard hit ball down the line that he dove for and threw low to first but the ball was dug by Wallace to cap off the good play. Jimmy Paredes made a great jumping catch in right at the wall on a hard hit ball off the bat of Hunter Pence. Jose Altuve also made a decent play on a shallow pop in no man's land behind first base. Wallace, Paredes, and Altuve were all around the play but Altuve made a late correction to make the grab.
Up NextJordan Lyles takes on Ryan Vogelsong in an untelevised game tomorrow night at 7:05 PM. I choose to not let Fox take away one of Jordan Lyles starts and will have to ignore TCB until I can watch the archive on MLB.TV later Thursday night or Friday morning.