Prologue: The Four Degrees of Separation between the Houston Astros and Sharknado.
I was especially excited to get to write this recap given the exciting news that 21-year-old Domingo Santana, super-duper-utility man Enrique ‘Kike' (pronounced ‘KEE-KAY') Hernandez, and Kevin Chapman had all been called up. Hernandez, it was noted during the broadcast, has played every single position this season except pitcher and catcher. Chapman began the season with the team but was sent down early on, on April 16th, after a terrible start. He has since pitched well at Oklahoma City so even his call-up has a little fun pop to it. It was however noted a few times during the course of the broadcast that Chapman was called up strategically as a lefty to counter the eight lefties in the Seattle lineup.
So the theme would be the new guys, which got me humming New Kid in Town by the Eagles, which naturally made me think of The Big Lebowski because the otherwise really dude-like Dudarino is very much on record as having a burning hatred for the band. The Big Lebowski made me think about Tara Reid (don't ask), which lead me directly to Sharknado, in which she seemed to be playing a prominent role until my daughter made me turn it off because she has better taste than me and is, unless I'm mistaken, also a better person. But that means there are only four degrees of separation between the Astros and Sharknado. Expect more on this in future recaps. Right now it's just too freaky to dwell on.
Additionally, with Cosart, Singleton, Santana, and Zeid all on the roster (and three of them starting), we have a new holiday to celebrate! Henceforth, I hereby proclaim July 1, 2014 will be known as V-P Day: Victory Over the Phillies Day. The day will be celebrated with cheese steaks and binge watching of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
It was Cosart on the mound against Iwakuma, which is a somewhat unusual Japanese surname in my experience so I looked it up. I thought it might mean ‘rock bear', which would have been great, but as it turns out actually means ‘shadow from a large rock'. The original Japanese kanji for ‘Cosart' was a little tougher to research but after a long, grueling search, it turns out that - and I'm translating very roughly here - is something like ‘Has Trouble with Twitter'. I jest. Cosart has had a very solid year on and off the field. His walks are down, his groundball percentage remains high and his FIP is 3.87 (with an xFIP of 4.08).
The game got off to a bad start with Cosart giving up two runs, looking well less than sharp. But the Astros countered in the bottom of the first with a run of their own with Dominguez bringing in Altuve who got on with his league leading 117th hit. This became the 6th game in a row the Astros have scored in the first inning. Would this be tidings of good things to come this evening? No, it would not.
It didn't get better for Cosart in the second. I realized, perhaps a bit too late, when I looked up and saw runners on first and third, one run already in and Cosart at 47 pitches, that this just wasn't his night. But he got out of it with just the one run, stranding two runs on a groundball out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Carter struck out swinging on a ten-pitch at bat. That brought Domingo Santana up for his first MLB plate appearance. As someone who follows but doesn't *watch* the Astros' minor league teams, it was my first time to watch him play. But not much to see, unfortunately, as he struck out fairly easily and Altuve grounded out after that to end the inning.
Luhnow was in the booth in the top of the third. They covered a lot of ground; I caught most of it. Please note that anything in quotations is not necessarily exactly correct but definitely quite close. He began by talking about the excitement of the call-ups. He then brought up the international signing start tomorrow, commenting they are looking to sign a couple Venezuelans tomorrow and follow it up with a couple Dominicans after that. Regarding the expectation that Santana is just up temporarily to replace Fowler, he said, "If you perform there will be a lot of pressure to keep him here." Luhnow also said they need a nickname for Singleton, Springer and Santana because of the ‘s' overload. On the young rotation, he noted they have ‘really exceeded my expectations." And followed up by saying it's a nice problem to have, this newfound abundance of starting pitching. On the subject of getting trade offers, he joked about writing trade offers on ‘pencil and paper' from now on, which got a big laugh in the booth. He commented that in this age you have to be careful because IT criminals are pretty crafty. On the bullpen, he said Fields is getting ready to come back and commented ‘Guys are holding their own.' On the signing of Aiken he said, they are "not in a rush, not going to have him pitch this year anyway. We're working on it. We've been working on it every day and will continue to work on it until we get something done." He talked about how cautious they are with new pitchers so there's no need to rush the signing. On Mark Appel he was quite positive, saying he had a very nice last outing, that Lancaster is tough, with big winds. He noted the "velocity was there, pitches were sharp". He added that another couple outings like that' and he'll be up in CC.
Top of the 4th, Cosart starts at 70 pitches, and is gifted a one-pitch groundball out. Despite a double to left field, he got out of the inning scoreless and at ‘only' 80 pitches. The next inning was more of the same, getting out scoreless at 88 pitches. Cosart, it seemed, had righted the ship. And then he came out in the 6th and walked the leadoff batter, running the count up to 94 pitches. Then on a dribbling groundball toward the mound, slid, failed to grab the ball, perhaps leaving it to Dominguez who had no chance of getting it. That meant runners on first and third with no outs, with Cosart at 96 pitches. The next batter, Chavez, showed bunt on the first pitch, which led to a conference on the mound that seemed to include everybody on the field, Strom and the ghost of Shoeless Joe. Once again, though, it looked like Cosart might manage to pitch out of it when the 2nd out came after Singleton threw out the lead runner at home. It was close and reviewed by the crew chief but the call was upheld. Which brought Cano up, who worked the count until hitting a sharp liner down the 3rd base line that brought in two runners, bumping the score to 5-1 and chasing Cosart. Little did I know what effect Cosart's departure would have on this game.
Downs came in to get that last out, but he promptly gave up back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, bringing the score to 8-1. Then came an RBI single to make the score 9-1 and another meeting on the mound. Then another very hard hit ball and a 10-1 lead. At some point Downs got that third out. But it didn't end there. There was more bleeding later. There was a Chapman appearance. There was a Kike appearance. There was me looking up and seeing a 12-1 score with multiple innings to go and less than seven hours until my alarm clock starts chirping. There was a Kike hit. There was a lot of attention on Kike's family. There was me giving up and filing the story.
Let me know if they come back. Good night and good luck.
Epilogue: Interesting Things that I saw or heard tonight
- Altuve had 18 swings and misses in the entire month of June. Does that mean what I think it means?
- Julia Morales was wearing some nice hippy bracelet bling.
- Santana appears to have a pretty intricate tattoo on his left forearm.
- Cosart is now up to 100 innings on the season.
- Kike Hernandez' mom is young, beautiful and charming.
- Darrin Downs also sports that Amish-y mustache-less beard that's going around like the flu. Wait ... so does Santana. So this is a thing?
- This was another long game. When Cosart was chased in the top of the sixth I looked down and saw 10:24 (EST). It's now the 7th inning at we've exceeded the three-hour mark.
- Kike looked great, getting an RBI ground rule double in his first MLB plate appearance.
- Our pinch hitters are 2 for 39.
- Our pitchers have given up 17 hits and we're not done.
- Zeid came in, meaning that every person from the Pence trade got in the game.