My mom always told me that honesty is the best policy, so I won't lie to you guys. Full disclosure: I've always loathed pitchers' duels. In fact, amongst the many reasons I detested the Astros' move to the AL, the one small bit of silver lining that I was able to rescue was the fact that we would be able to play some more Backyard Baseball style games in the Junior Circuit. I imagined dozens of dingers, oodles of doubles, and hurlers being chased after 3 or 4 innings. Suffice it to say, I wasn't exactly thrilled to listen to a pitchers' duel on the radio at an NL park, especially after the sour ending to my first recap last week. But hey, you do what you gotta do.
What went well
- Dallas Keuchel continued his ace-esque ways, giving up just one mistake and finishing with a stellar line of 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB and 4 SO.
- The defensive shifting continued to confound the SABR haters, as by my probably (very) inaccurate audio count, relying wholly on Rob Ford and Steve Sparks, the Astros gobbled up 4 grounders that wouldn't have been eaten if not for the shift. Take that, ya stuffy traditionalists.
- After being thoroughly flummoxed by the previously forgettable Kyle Kendrick for 6 innings, the middle of the order (sorta) woke up in the 7th thanks to a Trogdor walk, a Jason Castro dinker Dunkin' Donuts single, and Jon putting the single in Singleton (bet you never heard that one before) and reminding everyone at Citizens Bank just one more time of the foolishness of Ruben Amaro, Jr., plating Trogdor and tying the contest at 1.
- Ryan Howard, you know him, that guy who everyone says is really, really bad at playing baseball now, gave the Fightin's a 1-0 lead in the 2nd with his 17th HR of the season. It was just Keuchel's third tater given up to a lefty batter this year, but you wouldn't have known it listening to the audio feed. The Philly fans cheered about as loud as they would had Tony Romo showed up to throw the first pitch. Oh, Howard got the walk-off hit too.
- The Astros made Kendrick look more like Clayton Kershaw than a guy with a season ERA near 5.00. He finished with an eerily similar line to Keuchel's: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO. Call it the Battle of the K's.
- Keuchel's one blunder was his inability to lay down a bunt in the 6th, striking out instead.
- Interleague play is really cool until you go play in the other league's ballpark. I forgot how, though I agree in principle to having every man on the diamond take his turn at the plate, it's frustrating having to watch pitchers wave bats pool noodle style and, even worse, not be able to lay down a bunt in order to move runners over. Maybe the Astros should practice that a little more in spring training next year.
- Kid Keuchy is a full blown ace. Having taken a hiatus from baseball (and everything else) during a two-year mission trip to Peru from 2011-2013, I didn't know much about him coming into this season. But after putting together his second consecutive strong outing in an overall stellar season, there's no denying that Keuchel is the gem of the rotation. He's not Kershaw or Tanaka or anything, but could he contend for the AL CY next year?
- "Terrible" isn't really the word that comes to mind when I think of the Astros offense so much as "inconsistent". The club is still third in the AL in homers, and was able to mash out 22 runs in 4 games against the Blue Jays over the weekend. It's curious that the exact same lineup was absolutely befuddled by Kendrick and the entire Philadelphia bullpen.