Ed Note: The industrious folks at TCB are always looking new ways to entertain you, the reading public. Today we present duelling recaps. Chris and Ryan both wrote one, and you get to vote for which one is awesome and which one sucks. Enjoy!
Ed Note #2: Actually, due to a communication breakdown, both Ryan and Chris wrote recaps. Two for the price of zero. Today is everybody's lucky day!
Tonight, with thirty-nine games remaining, the Astros matched last season's win total by beating the Red Sox at Fenway Park for the first time in nine tries. It's worth noting that even with a .500 finish, the Astros are still on pace for well over 90 losses. But even 90 losses feels like an enormous turnaround, and in fact it would be an enormous turnaround - 20 wins better is not trivial improvement and better than many of us hoped for. But let's not put the entire caravan before the horse. The Astros still have to keep playing games to even accomplish that.
Friday's game felt like the best kind of game. Both starting pitchers dominated, but the offenses scored enough to keep it from getting boring. Some home runs were hit. Some spectacular plays were made. Some bone head plays were made. It went extra innings.
It was a good one.
The game started out uneventful - Dallas Keuchel and Clay Buchholz traded zeroes for a few innings and ended up with nearly identical pitching lines:
Keuchel: 7IP 3ER 6H 3BB 8SO - Boston had no answer for his slurve, and so he matched his season-high total in strikeouts
Buchholz: 7IP 2ER 7H 2BB 9SO - Buchholz was having a rough season, and this was definitely one of his better starts*
*unsubstantiated rumor to follow: I don't know what was in Buchholz' hair, but it looked awfully wet/shiny to just be sweat. And he seemed to run his hand through it before every other batter. And his curveball looked awfully sharp tonight. Just saying. Do with that what you will, internets.
The first damage was done when Yoenis Cespedes knocked a comet into the Green Monster in the fourth inning. Keuchel's slurve was actually very low in the zone - it was a pitcher's pitch, and Cespedes reached down to golf it out. Bob Grossman** answered in the 5th with a single, scoring Jake Marisnick, who had singled earlier in the inning and then advanced to third on a Marwin Gonzalez single. All of this happened with two outs.
**yes, he has earned the "Bob" back, despite a particular Chron Commenter's opinion:
"Great. Another two weeks of Grossman who continues to play everyday although he hits at the Mendoza line." pic.twitter.com/kLxk7ZAuRe— Chron Comments (@Chron_Comments) August 15, 2014
Grossman is now hitting .271/.392/.421 for a 134 wRC+ (3rd-best on the team after Altuve and Carter) since his recall on July 8th. In related news, Marisnick is hitting .315/.321/.426 with the Astros, and has already amassed 0.5 WAR due to his defensive prowess. Oh, and Colin Moran and Francis Martes are performing like star-level prospects. And that upcoming pick....I digress.
Speaking of Grossman, Boston tried to extend Buchholz by leaving him in for the 7th, despite a pitch count already over 100 pitches. Buchholz managed to get the first two outs quickly, but again with two outs Grossman waltzed to the plates as if he owned Fenway and bombed a pitch into the right field bleachers to tie the game at 2-2. Buccholz walked to the dugout displeased with himself.
In Inning 7, Keuchel was unable to hold the lead - with two outs and after a wild pitch, a Brock Holt single scored Christian Vazquez, giving Boston the lead again. Keuchel walked to the dugout displeased with himself.
Then came the eighth inning. With the Astros batting, the Red Sox brought in Edward Mujica, who promptly allowed back-to-back singles to Chris Carter and Dexter Fowler. In a move of prophetic genius, Astros manager Bo Porter substituted Gregorio Petit to pinch run for Carter. Two pitching changes later, this happens:
(note: click on image if GIF doesn't play)
Wut? I mean WOT?? Wha???? Let's break this down:
- Xander Bogarts gives a half-hearted underhand toss from ten feet, only to have Dexter Fowler beat it to the bag.
- Dustin Pedroia waits for the ump to signal the safe call before throwing to the Vazquez.
- Petit totally jukes Vazquez, leading to additional yards.
- Vazquez chucks the ball to Burke Badenhop, covering the plate.
- Badenhop drops the ball
- Petit jumps over Badenhop and slaps the plate with his right hand.
There were no errors on the play. After two reviews, both Fowler and Petit are clearly safe. It was one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen in baseball, and it tied the game 3-3. Go Astros!
Staying in at DH, Petit adds to his heroics in the 10th by reaching via a single and coming around to score on a ground-rule double by Marisnick. Then, Tony Sipp decided he'd seen enough back-and-forth and sets down the Red Sox in order to give the Astros the 5-3 win.
Oh, and a fan ran out on the field and got tackled after tripping over second base. This game had it all!
Fenway park is a cathedral to baseball. There is something about the color and the light hitting the players that makes every game seem like it's being played in October. As if this game was a preview of playoffs games well into the future. But, at the present, it was a game between two teams far out of the playoffs race.
Dallas Keuchel and his luxurious beard to the mound in Boston. He looked like he should be wearing flannel and pouring drinks at a bar on Yawkey Way, but instead he was mowing down hitters like he did all season. Clay Buchholz has had a terrible season, but the Astros have been the remedy to what ails him. Both pitchers were painting the black, and making battlers look bad. Each would go seven and strike out seven-plus.
Yoenis Cespedes two-run home run that snuck over the green monster to Boston in the lead. The Astros responded with a run in the top half of the next inning with back-to-back-to-back singles from Jake Marisnick, Marwin Gonzalez, andRobbie Grossman to set the score at 2-1.
In the seventh, Robbie Grossman rapped a ball around Pesky's Pole to tie the game at 2-2.
The Red Sox responded in kind with a run in the bottom of the seventh, Christian Vazquez moved up on a wild pitch after singling with two outs. Brock Holt singled to right and made sure Vazquez was given no attention at the plate by getting thrown out attempting to stretch a single into double.
It was again the Astros turn to respond, Chris Carter led off the eighth with a single. Dexter Fowler followed with a bloop single that feel between three Red Sox down the left-field line. At this point, Gregorio Petit replaced Chris Carter at second. The next two astros hitters would strikeout, setting the table for Matt Dominguez. Dominguez hit cue shot right at Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts flipped the ball to Dustin Pedroia as Dexter Fowler raced down to second. Fowler and Pedroia reached the bag at the same time, Fowler was called safe.
Pedroia quickly turned and saw Petit half way home. Pedroia fired and hitting Christian Vazquez, Vazquez took a wide turn toward Petit and away from the base path. Petit saw his opening and raced home. The Red Sox pitcher, Burke Badenhop, was covering home. He caught a flip from Vazquez and at the same time dropped to his knees in front of the plate. Petit made a cut that Arian Foster would be proud in front of the kneeling pitcher and extended his hand toward the plate.
The umpire watching all of this madness inexplicably extended his arms in opposite direction to call Petit safe. The Astros had come back for a second time in game, and a review of the play by the Red Sox wouldn't change that.
The Astros and Red Sox would head to extra inning with the score tied 3-3. Houston would load the bases with two singles and hit by pitch in the top of the tenth. Jon Singleton and Matt Dominguez both popped out. New Astro, Jake Marisnick flipped the third straight fastball he faced from Red Sox closer Junichi Tazawa down the right field line. Marisnick seem to be calculating the landing spot out of the box when the ball hit the chalk and bounced out of play. It wasn't a home run or a gapper, but Marisnick drove home two with a pop-up ground rule double.
Tony Sipp closed the door on the Astros' fifty-first win matching their win total in 2013 and their first win in Fenway park in nine tries.
Dexter Fowler and Robbie Grossman lead the way for the Astros offense - both men reached base three times in the game. Matt Dominguez and Jon Singleton together left 15 runners on base. In all the Astros were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position for the night, but they made those two hits count.