Tonight, the Reds beat the Astros by a score of 4 runs to 1. For the Astros, JA Happ pitched a nice game, with seven strikeouts in seven innings. Two of his three earned runs came on two-out hits in the first inning after a very close call that lead to a non-strikeout of Joey Votto.
Offensively, the Astros were a non-factor in this game. The only run came on a hustle play by Jose Altuve, who again reached base more than once (though one was a fielder's choice).
Defensive gems were provided mostly by Chris Johnson, though the Astros did turn a few nice double plays. Most of the game consisted of ground balls, with very few balls finding the outfield by either club. The notable exception was Jay Bruce's home run off of Wesley Wright in the ninth.
Following are my thoughts on the game.
I had tickets to tonight's game. But I did not go. I love baseball. But being home with my wife is better. It happens. Luckily, we live in an era where passive entertainment consists more than reliving an old hunt by staring at charcoal scratches on the wall of my cave. So I get the wife, the comforts of my home, AND baseball. Question: would you trade the technology that allows you to watch all 162 games of your favorite team in order to watch Wagner, Cobb, and Ruth in their primes? Probably not.
So as I've mentioned, I have close family ties to the Queen City so it would mean a lot for the Astros to break their appalling losing streak at home against the Reds of Cincinnatus' namesake city. I also have ties to Jay Bruce, as I spent two years of my life residing in the Western Louisiana city of Beaumont, TX. The Astros winning this game would help validate my change in allegiances.
For a nice switch, my inning titles will be in Swahili tonight.
- Let's get this out of the way: I think the Astros should draft Byron Buxton. When I read comparisons like "Ken Griffey Jr." and "Justin Upton", I suddenly lose interest in quick-to-the-majors college pitchers who don't look like sure-thing aces and broken high school pitchers.
- Nice strikeout of Jay Stubbs. Even if he had swung at that fastball at the bottom of the zone, he would have beaten it right into the ground. As it was, he looked silly standing there after being rung up.
- Good effort by Jed Lowrie to get the relay home on a long double from Brandon Phillips. If the ball had been at Chris Snyder's feet instead of his shoulders, Joey Votto would have been out by two steps. Score Astros 0 Reds 1
- Not a promising start by JA Happ. Score Astros 0 Reds 2 on RBI single by Bruce.
- Second Inning is boring so far. So, I'm posting the Pitch F/X of the controversial "ball" called on the third pitch to Joey Votto in the first. J.D. and Brownie are questioning it, commentors in The Crawfish Boxes are complaining, so here is what Pitch F/X says: (Pitch 3) Pretty borderline. A quick check shows that Ump Jim Joyce has been consistent calling that pitch a ball for both pitchers this game.
- They're interviewing J.R. Richard. I wonder how his fastball is these days?
- Bases loaded...single, walk, single and only one out. C'mon Astros! Gah, out at home on a grounder and now Happ is batting.
- We all shoulda known how that was going to end. Happ strikes out looking. I'm hungry.
- Back to Buxton...none of us should have been fooled into believing the 2012 Astros could compete for a playoff spot. They're still a long way from contention. Given that, I want upside, upside, upside. I don't give a rat's patootie about "floor". Buxton's floor is very high, but it's obviously not as high as a guy who has played for 3-4 years in college. But I want the guy with the biggest ceiling. That's what's going to get us into World Series again. Just ask the Rays..
- Good grief, they've spent more time interviewing people in the booth and the stands than actually showing the game so far.
- Say what you want about Jim Joyce, you wish you had that moustache.
- Good grief. Votto single RBI drives in Cozart. I'm really not liking that guy. At least nobody can try to blame this on the Umpire. Score Astros 0 Reds 3.
- Really nice quick-twitch backhand catch by Chris Johnson to start the double play.
- Haha, Mike Leake looked like he was getting punched in the face by the 1B umpire on that out call. Awesome. If I knew how to make a GIF (or felt like looking it up)....
- Lowrie walks. I still get giddy when the Astros take a walk. Low On Base Percentage was public enemy number one in my book, and regardless of the record at the end of the year, if there's significant improvement in that stat I'll feel like this season is a huge leap in the right direction.
- Well at least this game is moving quickly, so far. As much as I love baseball, I don't think I could do a writeup of a Yankees vs Red Sox game. Four and a half hours of watching overpaid 30-somethings adjusting their batting gloves and helmets. Yeeee--yuch.
- The Astros look good defensively so far. Another nice double play, 6-4-3.
- I really don't like how player numbers are printed on the crotch with these throwback uniforms.
- Another good defensive play by Johnson on a hard grounder.
- Five strikeouts for Happ. Sure he's given up 3 runs, but he really hasn't pitched poorly.
- And two strikeouts that inning for Leake.
- And another thing about drafting Buxton. The Astros have the mixed blessing of pick 1-1. With that pick, 10 times out of 10 I would prefer to gamble on a guy who will help me every day and possibly hit 2nd or 3rd in my lineup than a guy who will only play 1 out of every 5 days.
- Alyson Footer just mentioned The Crawfish Boxes on TV! How awesome is that? They should pan the camera over to David.
- Happ is lucky Phillips didn't mash that fastball right down the middle. He just waved past it.
- Altuve is 5th in the league in hits. How lucky are the Astros to have him?
- Altuve's hustle to advance to third leads to a score! Score Astros 1 Reds 3. Too bad it was on a double play.
- Congrats to Johan Santana, who just completed a no-hitter. And to think, he could have been an Astro.
- Good plate discipline by J.D. Martinez to work that walk. I definitely would have swung at that last pitch, just inside.
- Justin Maxwell pinch hitting for JA Happ. Nice line for Happ. 3 earned runs, but 7 strikeouts in 7 innings pitched. And strikes out looking. This time, Pitch F/X says it was a ball.
- My final reason for wanting Buxton is that pitchers have an exponentially higher risk of injury than outfielders. Just look at the number of top 10 picks who destroyed their arms compared to hitters who ended their careers due to injury. It's not close.
- Immediate strikeout for Wilton Lopez to open the eighth against Mike Costanza. Mike looked like George in that At Bat.
- Quote from the wife: "Whoa, whoa whoa whoa! Lopez caught that ball and he looks so much like Lee that it was like he teleported and threw the ball to himself at first." I rewound the tape. I agree, they do look pretty similar when seen in a sports-motion blur.
- Exciting infield single by Schafer. Hopefully something good will come of this.
- And a walk by Lowrie! Don't know who this Ondrusek guy is pitching.
- Followed by a double play that injures Carlos Lee.
- Lee is out of the game, Johnson is at first. I hope Lee is okay.
- Wesley Wright begins by striking out Votto. Nicely done, that's not easy to do.
- Buxton struck out 18 guys as a pitcher in his state championship game. Buxton is an outfielder. Now that's awesome.
- Jay Bruce home run. Argh. Score Astros 1 Reds 4.
- Aroldis Chapman is kind of good at this pitching stuff. 100 mph fastball to strike out Johnson.
- Bill Brown just said that Matt Downs is a good fastball hitter. He's actually not. Some research I did earlier in the year using Pitch F/X shows that Downs really struggles with pitches faster than 94 mph. Still, a lot of respect for what Brown has to do every day. Downs strikes out on a 98 mph fastball.
- Chapman stirkes out Martinez, and the game is over.