I like to start my recaps with the BIG STORY OF THE GAME. I don’t know which story in tonight’s game is the BIG STORY. So I’m going to let you, dear readers, decide what the BIG STORY OF THE GAME is.
What is THE BIG STORY OF THE GAME?
This poll is closed
Alex Bregman’s 3 run homer, tying him for 2nd in the AL, and 5th in RBI, 5th in wRC+ and 3rd in fWAR
Tony Kemp’s 2 run homer, 2 for 4, and stunning defense.
Yordan Alvarez’ 3-4 night, with a 2 run, 425 foot shot into Albert Pujols territory....by a left hander. In four games Alvarez’ OPS is 1,656 and he has three homers.
Robjnson Chirinos’ 6 RBI on a 2-run single and GRAND SLAM.
Gerrit Cole, with 6 innings pitched, 2 runs and 10 strikeouts
Rogelio Armenteros, in his Big League debut, with three scoreless innings and a save.
And that about sums it up. Almost.
In the first inning lead off hitter Alex Bregman and second batter Michael Brantley each walked, and with one out, Yordan Alvarez got his first non-home run hit of his career, a 114 MPH single to right to load the bases. Chirinos followed with a 2-run single, and Josh Reddick hit a sac fly to score Alvarez. 3-0.
In the second it was all about Bregman’s three run smash into the Crawford Boxes.
Doing it for the 6ix. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/FoVZqtDnLV— Houston Astros (@astros) June 15, 2019
In the third it was Tony Kemp’s turn, hitting in Josh Reddick with his fifth homer of the year, one of his patented, just barely over the right field fence homers.
Tony doesn't miss. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/ydQGcLUEY5— Houston Astros (@astros) June 15, 2019
In the fourth inning it was time for Alvarez. His 425 foot moon launch with escape velocity of 108.7 MPH, went way above the gas pump, and a work crew is probably checking that part of the stadium for structural damage as I write.
12 @MLB at bats, 3 BOMBS!#TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/2tesF8lAnm— Houston Astros (@astros) June 15, 2019
The Stros were quiet until the eighth. Toronto pitcher Tim Mayza walked four batters, the fourth being Alvarez, giving him his third RBI of the night. And then Robinson Chirinos launched another rocket at 39 degrees for a grand slam.
So what’s the story? Is it Bregman taking over the top of the leader boards, at a time in the season when, in the past, he was just getting started?
Or is it Tony Kemp, who has proven his value as a utility player with stellar defense at second, and since June 4th has a .607 SLG and a 141 wRC+?
Or is it Yordan Alvarez? Nuff said, I’ll save him for later.
How about Robinson Chirinos? How are you going to keep him off the All-Star team? Among catchers he was second in fWAR before tonight, and by tomorrow the stat sheet will probably say he leads. He is second among catchers in home runs after tonight with 12 and tied for second in RBI with 38. Tonight’s grand slam was his first.
Gerrit cole extended his league lead in strikeouts to 140, 15 more than runner-up Justin Verlander, with his 10 K’s tonight.
This is what Cole was doing to hitters tonight.
Gerrit Cole, 98mph Fastball and 91mph Slider, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/H9cjmggfOZ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 15, 2019
And on any other night, the triumphant debut of a patient and quietly successful but unspectacular AAA pitcher who made easy work of a big league lineup for three innings would be the lede.
Here’s my pick. It’s Yordan Alvarez. I’m trying to be all TCB sabermetric, cool and analytic, don’t forget the small sample size blah, blah, blah, but my gut tells me this kid as a hitter is Barry Bonds. Yeah, I said it.
There are great prospects who never make the jump to the Big Leagues. There are great prospects who take time to adjust. And every now and then there are prospects who make the jump to the The Show without even a ripple, like they were born there. That’s Alvarez. His fundamentals are for real. An inchworm measuring stick for an eye, with the bases loaded he laid off pitches just an inch off the plate. He hits with incredible power to left field, he hits breaking balls. His bat speed is like lightning, he makes contact, and boy does the ball jump off his bat when he does. Tonight, exit velo: 114.1, 108.7, 110.2. It seems the only question whether his batted ball is going to be a home run is if he gets it high enough in the air.
He has the strength of Aaron Judge, the hand-eye coordination of Jose Altuve, the bat speed of Giancarlo Stanton, but a much sweeter swing.
And I don’t think we’ve really seen him swing hard yet.
Sure, the league will find chinks in his armor, and he will have to adjust. But adjust he will. He’s still only 21 years old and did not get the kind of advanced training young Americans get growing up in baseball.
Yes, its only four games. But I will say it now. Among the current crop of Astros, this Yordan will be the greatest hitter of them all. Go ahead, all ye sophisticates, snicker.