Let’s track tonight’s game by number of tums eaten, shall we?
First off, yeah, I have acid reflux. Boo hoo, I know. But I have tums on hand, so they come in handy for Mike Fiers starts.
Because Mike Fiers gives me heartburn.
Even in his last start, against the Royals, I was chewing my nails down to nubs. And despite the fact that he only gave up one earned run, Fiers’ FIP for the game was 5.62 and his xFIP was 4.78. His opponent BABIP was an anemic .211, and it seemed he gave up quite a bit of hard contact throughout the game, and it kept getting hit right at his defenders or he’d find some way to wriggle out of trouble.
Basically, I ran out of tums before he was run out of the game. So? I stocked up coming into tonight’s game.
I pop two tums at a time (I’m a giant), and I settled in to write my recap expecting to make a healthy dent in my stash.
The Astros got a single from Jose Altuve in the top of the first (no lead off home run for George Springer) and nothing else.
Then Mike Fiers came out to start throwing his warmup pitches...and I popped my first two tums.
Yep. During the warm up pitches.
Jarrod Dyson, the non-hitting track star wonder, was hitting lead off for the Mariners with Jean Segura still on the disabled list and Mike Fiers walked him. Because yeah, a guy with a 3.0 BB% so far this season coming into the game is (of course) going to get walked.
Tums count is now up to four.
After Super-Rookie Mitch Haniger accidentally struck out, Jarrod Dyson did Jarrod Dyson things and stole second base. Tums...six.
Cano smashed a ball to center field for an RBI single. Eight.
Nelson Cruz ripped a single to left fielder Nori Aoki. Ten. Carlos Correa made an error on a double play ball and allowed another run to score. Twelve.
Okay, okay. That one wasn’t really Fiers’ fault. But still...twelve tums.
Taylor Motter got a fat cement mixer to crush and popped out to Jose Altuve on the infield fly rule. Location of the pitch: fat. Location of the tums: my gullet. Fourteen. Zunino somehow struck out.
Twenty eight pitches in the first inning for Mike Fiers, and two runs for the Mariners. Mike Fiers’ FIP for the inning was almost six.
Ten more tums. An entire fistful of tums. All the tums. I had to go upstairs and get a fresh tube of tums.
On to the second inning. I guess. Mood at this point: “Kill me, please.”
After a forgettable half inning for the Astros that saw a weak fly out from Carlos Beltran, a walk to Alex Bregman, and a double play off the bat of Brian McCann to end the inning, it was right back to Tums Time.
Mike Freeman hit his first major league home run in his first plate appearance of the season on the second pitch he saw...another really pitiful slider, this time middle in. Sigh. Break the foil seal off the tums and pop some more. I’ve lost count at this point.
After a pretty humorous bunt line out to Yulieski Gurriel at first base from Leonys Martin on the first pitch of the plate appearance, Jarrod Dyson and his 3.0 BB% worked a ten pitch at bat before flying out to Josh Reddick in right field. Mitch Haniger roped a laser beam on the ground (worms could be heard screaming from blocks away, per sources) that Alex Bregman muffed badly (it was an error, as far as I’m concerned...he moved a step to his backhand side and the ball was in the web of his glove and bounced out) and resulted in Haniger reaching. Tums. He then stole second with a bad jump thanks to a really, really terrible throw from Brian McCann. nomnomnomtumsnomnom. Thank God, Robinson Cano flew out to end the inning. Twenty four pitches in this inning, fifty two pitches total. Where are those tums?
Three outs that I don’t even remember anymore (Gurriel fly out to center field, ground outs from Aoki and Springer) and it was back into the Thunderdome. Tums-derdome? Nah. That’s too much, you’re right.
Nelson Cruz struck out...because no matter how bad the pitcher is, Nelson Cruz still finds a way to do that sometimes. Kyle Seager promptly ripped a single to right field before Taylor Motter literally destroyed a big fat hanging...splitter? Change up? Underhanded floater pitch? You be the judge...to left field for a two-run, 105 mile per hour line drive home run off the lower facade of Edgar’s Place. Tums. Five to nothing, Mariners (more tums), and Brad Peacock is warming in the Astros bullpen.
Have I mentioned that I’m eating tums?
A ground ball from Zunino and a fly out from Freeman and the inning was, mercifully, over. Mike Fiers had a pitch count of 73 after three innings. I had a tums count of...well, about 70 or 75. Somewhere in there.
The Astros found a way to load the bases with no outs (walks to Reddick and Altuve, single from Correa) before back to back strikeouts were recorded by Gallardo (because, of course, Gallardo’s first two strikeouts of the game would come with the bases loaded for the Astros and no outs...tums) and then Brian McCann was able to pick the team up a bit by working a bases loaded walk to bring home the first Astros run of the game. Yuli Gurriel followed by smoking a grounder up the middle, deflected by Gallardo and somehow fielded by Cano behind second base. Jose Altuve scored the second Astros run from third, but Carlos Correa never looked up at Gary Pettis at third and ran right through a stop sign and into a run down. It appeared that Correa assumed that the ball got through the infield and had his head down. He was an easy third out, and once again I was popping tums like an addict as the Astros grabbed their gloves and trudged back onto the field to resume their roles in Mike Fiers’ one-man Tragic play.
That might be a bit melodramatic, but this piece has a theme tonight. Tums and Terrible Pitching. I’m invested, at this point, I’m sticking with it.
In seriousness, though Fiers was able to record two pretty quick outs in Martin and Dyson and struck out Haniger to record his first three up and three down inning of the game, he was bouncing curve balls badly during Haniger’s at bat. It was still uncomfortable to watch, and it was a much-more-normal eleven pitch inning. Naturally, the sight of Tony Sipp loosening hurriedly in the bullpen as Mike Fiers blew past the eighty pitch mark in the fourth inning prompted me to chomp some more tums.
Nori Aoki roped a double into the right field corner against his most recent former team and advanced to third on yet another well struck ball (and yet another well-struck out) for George Springer. Springer’s BABIP at this point fell to .154 on the season so far, a very strange and not-often discussed characteristic of his auspicious start so far.
Josh Reddick did his best Nori Aoki impression and somehow got on top of a high pitch out over the plate and chopped it on the ground into left field for an RBI single and Jose Altuve followed with a soft rolling infield single to Taylor Motter, who bobbled the ball at short and blew the small chance he had to convert an out on the play. After Carlos Correa hit a solid line drive right to right fielder Mitch Haniger for the second out of the inning, Carlos Beltran came to the plate and crushed a 100 mile per hour single through the shift to chase Reddick home with the fourth run of the game. Alex Bregman grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the frame, but just like that, the Astros were back in the game and only down a run, five to four.
To add to the good news, Mike Fiers came out of the game before the bottom of the fifth inning!
Time to put away the tums, right?
Well...maybe not. Enter Tony Sipp. tumstumstumstumstumstumstums
But believe it or not, Tony Sipp got Robinson Cano to ground out to Carlos Correa, got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right, and induced a ground out from Kyle Seager to end the inning. A collective sigh passed across the vast expanse of #AstrosTwitter. A container of tums dropped from a shocked hand to the ground in slow motion and black and white.
Melodrama is fun. Allow me to digress.
Marc Rzepczynski (spelled it correctly...now tums) got three straight ground ball outs of Astros for a bare-minimum inning of his own, and then it was the Pea’s turn.
As Brad Peacock was taking his warmup pitches, I (growing weary of the tums...my mouth may be white for the rest of my life) popped a couple more of the crunchy white disks.
I needn’t have worried. Peacock struck out Taylor Motter looking, allowed one of those fluky BABIP dragon singles to Mike Zunino (killer effort by Josh Reddick laying out), induced a fielder’s choice out on what should have been (but for an umpire not getting out of the way in time, and a poor defensive play by Yuli at first base) an inning-ending double play off the bat of Freeman, and then got Leonys Martin to chase up the ladder for another strikeout.
One pitch, one ground out for Springer in the top of the seventh...then Reddick blistered a line drive through the shift and Jose Altuve slapped another line drive single to right field (his fourth hit of the night) before Carlos Correa worked the count full and then smashed a single on the ground right past Kyle Seager. Josh Reddick scampered home at the windmill’s behest and just like that, the game was all tied up at five in the top of the seventh. Emphasis on “was” tied. Alex Bregman came to the plate and slapped an RBI double down the third base line and just as quickly as it had been tied, the Astros took the lead. After an intentional walk to McCann, a wild pitch brought Carlos Correa home before Yuli popped out to end the threat.
Brad Peacock continued his impressive evening by making two good plays on ground balls to start the next half inning. Robinson Cano flew out to end the inning, and the suddenly-resurgent Astros bats went back to work.
I ate tums...this time not because the team was giving me heartburn, but because of my normal acid reflux. It felt good. Sort of. You know what I mean. Shut up.
This was where the game finally completed its transcendent path from “ohmygodkillme” to “Okay, cool, it’s a game” to “Oh. Here’s the offense we’ve been waiting to see. Ha. Haha. Hahahahaha. BWAHAHAHAHA!”
Everybody hold on tight, we’re going to do this quick.
Aoki singles to center. Springer does the same thing. Wild pitch moves everybody up a base with no outs. Reddick hits a sac fly (very good plate appearance against a lefty) to make it eight to five. Intentional walk to Altuve. Correa strikes out. Carlos Beltran laces a two-run double into the left center field gap, passing Willie Stargell on the all-time RBI list. Alex Bregman notches his second hit of the game. Brian McCann grounded out to end the inning. The Astros were losing five to nothing and then scored ten unanswered runs. Let that sink in. Bask in it. Bathe in it; dab it behind your ears and on your wrists. For any Mariners fans still out there...I recommend tums.
Luke Gregerson came in and was his typical excellent self, in spite of yet another extra base hit from Taylor Motter. Four up, three down.
Jandel Gustave came in for the bottom of the ninth up five, gave up a single to Freeman before retiring two hitters on weak contact and then getting Haniger to ground out on a solidly struck ground ball to Jose Altuve.
A couple of takeaways - the Astros, with this 10-5 win, now have a winning record through ten games for the first time in eleven years. They haven’t had a comeback after being down so much in eight years. The bullpen threw five scoreless innings, and the names on the box score involved in that are Sipp, Peacock, Gregerson, and Gustave.
After everything, all I can think is...”What if Mike Fiers hadn’t been the starter tonight?”
I bet I wouldn’t be in my car right now on the way to the store to buy more tums, at least.