The Astros won the opening game of a 9-game homestand starting with the New York Mets. It was a close game with several people in the gamethread showing their dislike for Brad Mills as the game progressed. Many people were upset that Mills put on the bunt with Altuve at the plate two separate times during the game. Many people were displeased with Brad Mills' use of relief pitchers. But Bud Norris pitched a good game. Matt Downs hit a 2-run Bomb. Lowrie drove in the go-ahead run in the 8th. Brett Myers closed out the game and we won! What's the fussin' about?
Offensively, the Astros were efficient by scoring 4 runs on only 5 hits and 2 walks. However, efficiency must not be confused with performance. The Astros were lucky to score that many runs on only 1 extra-base hit, which came off a Matt Downs bomb to the Crawford Boxes. Performance-wise, Schafer and Lowrie were the only guys who got two hits each (singles), while Matt Downs came up with a two run home run.
- Fire Brad Mills?
- Altuve and bunting?
1. There has been an increasing call to action to fire Brad Mills (similar to last year). Earlier this year Brad Mills looked pretty steady as a manager until one game in which he left a starting pitching in to pitch too long. The result was a blown lead and a trip to the mound from Millsie, who took the starter out of the game one batter too late. Well Brad Mills did it today by leaving in Bud Norris too long even after warning signs of wearing down were beginning to show. Brad Mills had a choice to make with Kirk Nieuwenhuis up to bat with the bases loaded. Do you leave in a pitcher who can't locate his pitches with 2 outs in the inning? Or do you go to the bullpen?
It's certainly understandable in my opinion when the bullpen has been coughing up meltdown after meltdown in recent games to try to squeeze one more out from the starting pitcher. However, one would certainly think that Norris' lack of control in the inning would create a greater possibility of giving up a hit in the inning than would bringing in a fresh pitcher out of the bullpen that can locate his pitches better than what Norris was doing. Even regardless of what happened in today's game, Brad Mills has been known countless numbers of times for leaving starting pitchers in games way too often. Often having to go to the bullpen one batter later in these situations, I don't understand why giving up 2 or 3 runs is better than having the bullpen face one more extra batter in a game.
On the other hand, Brad Mills showed a short stick with his relief pitchers. Wilton Lopez, Wesley Wright, Brandon Lyon, Fernando Abad, and Fernando Rodriguez all faced 5 batters in 1.1 innings while throwing a collective total of 13 pitches. The only pitcher left suitable to pitch was Brett Myers who was fortunately able to shut the game down in the 9th inning.
At this point, I don't think firing Brad Mills would be a good idea unless Jeff Luhnow has better candidates lined up and would be willing to eat Mills' salary. But I really don't see a case for resigning Brad Mills to manage the Astros next year.
2. Brad Mills turned on the bunt with Altuve batting two separate times during the game. The first one was a sac bunt to get Schafer to 2nd base. The second one was a failed sac bunt that was popped up and caught in foul ground. Was the bunt the best play there? In all honesty, I'm not really sure. Altuve is a notoriously bad bunter in the playing time we've seen him. But I really think that mixing up the game plan and catching defenders off guard can sometimes be more beneficial than doing what the other team is expecting you to do. If the defense is lined up so that they aren't expecting a bunt, that is the perfect opportunity to bunt. Coupled with an increased chance for errors on fielding bunts, it is sometimes better to bunt than to hit depending on the situation. After all, if the concept of a bunt is so unsuccessful, nobody would be bunting these days. Bunting does have its uses and purposes.
What does Mike Fast say on bunts?
Brad Mills goes to the bullpen for the 3rd time in the 8th inning.
Matt Downs goes boom!