The Crawfish Boxes’ All-Time Astros Draft Simulation Tournament has provided no shortage of entertaining matches. We have had seven tightly contested games, including high-scoring extra-innings roller coaster games for the ages, low scoring games decided on a terrible game-ending baserunning decision, and an incredible comeback from eight runs down. The final chapter of the tournament gave us something new that we hadn’t seen: a blowout.
The eighth game of the tournament, like games 6 and 7, was held in the Astrodome. A consolation for drawing the lowest seeds in the tournament, the Cody Blue and Gold and the Bilbos Brick Red were granted home field advantage throughout the tournament. After dropping the first game of the tournament, Cody battled his way through Theo, Bilbos and Hammer in the loser’s bracket. The Blue and Gold defied odds at every turn, coming back from 4 run and 8 run deficits to challenge the undefeated Hatter Colt 45’s.
But even Cinderella magic runs out at midnight. The Colt 45’s, on the back of 2 home runs apiece from shortstop Dickie Thon and designated hitter Doug Rader, took an early and never looked back.
The Colt 45’s started the first inning fast and furious. Hits haven’t been plentiful for Hatter first round draft pick and captain Craig Biggio, but he had been consistently getting on base. Biggio opened game 8 by reaching first in trademark fashion: hit by pitch. Two stolen bases later, while right fielder Terry Puhl struck out, Biggio was at third base, and easily driven in by an Alex Bregman single off Blue and Gold starter J.R. Richard. 1-0 HAT
Richard looked to regain his composure after a wild pitch let Bregman take second, by striking out first baseman Glenn Davis. But Dickie Thon deposited a fastball to left field for a two run homer, and Doug Rader went back to back with Thon with a solo shot of his own. Richard got his third strikeout of the inning on left fielder Luis Gonzalez, but the damage was done. 4-0 HAT
Richard came back out for the second inning and worked around two walks by getting another 3 strikeouts. Six strikeouts in two innings is impressive, but less impressive mixed in with 4 earned runs.
Mike Scott pitched the first two innings for the Colt 45’s. allowing no runs and just a leadoff second inning single to Cody shortstop Carlos Correa, hero of Game 7.
Dallas Keuchel relieved Richard for Cody in the third but fared no better. Following a Glenn Davis single to left, Thon stroked his second two run shot of the night, this time an opposite field blast to right. Keuchel’s second inning of work, like Richard’s, went appreciably better, as Keuchel retired all three batters in order. 6-0 HAT
Nolan Ryan pitched the third and the fourth for Hatter. While the third inning was largely uneventful, Carlos Lee smacked a 2-out triple in the fourth, and looked destined to cross the plate when the following batter, catcher Jason Castro, drilled a screamer down the first base line. But the liner was speared by Davis for the third out, and the Blue and Gold exited the frame still with a 0 in the runs column.
Charlie Morton, who had not allowed a run in 8 innings of work to date in the tournament, kept up his quality pitching by providing Cody with 1-2-3 5th and 6th innings.
Andy Pettitte pitched the fifth for Hatter, and things did not go as smoothly for the southpaw. Issuing walks in the fifth to Derek Bell, Jeff Bagwell and Moises Alou, Pettitte loaded the bases with 2 outs for Hunter Pence. Pence then hit a long fly ball to deep right field. The Astrodome collectively stood on their feet, feeling this was the moment Cody would start one of his patented comebacks, but Terry Puhl tracked it down for the third out, stranding all 3 runners.
Frustrated at the way the game had been going, the Blue and Gold fans in the Astrodome grew restless and rowdy in the sixth. A fan in the left field seat threw a battery at Colt 45 left fielder Luis Gonzalez, which resulted in a game delay, during which the offending fan was escorted out by security. (Note: Who brings a battery to the ballpark unless you’re coming with intent to chuck it at a player? This is not a detail of the game I am adding, but an event that the OOTP software actually simulated in the game, by the way.)
The delay of game did nothing to turn Cody’s fortunes. Pettitte worked around a 2-out single by Castro and a 2-out walk by Ken Caminiti by getting Bell to fly out for the final out.
The seventh was pitched by Joe Sambito for the Blue and Gold. Biggio worked a 1-out walk followed by a Terry Puhl single. Bregman then punished a pitch left over the plate for a 3-run bomb, 427 feet to right field, extending the Colt 45 lead. 9-0 HAT
The bottom of the seventh belonged to Joe Niekro, and a handful of knuckleballs later, his work was done for the evening, delivering a 1-2-3 inning.
Brad Lidge, fresh off giving up a game tying 3-run homer in Game 7, took the ball for the eighth inning and promptly served up a majestic moonshot to DH Doug Rader, his second dinger of the game. A towering 464’ blast to left, Rader broke his own tournament record for longest homer run (463’) that he set in Game 5. 10-0 HAT
Darryl Kile took the hill for Hatter in the eighth. He began the inning by striking out Pence, but granted free baserunners to the Blue and Gold by walking Correa and hitting Carlos Lee with a pitch that traveled inside just a little too much. Jason Castro popped foul for the second out, but Ken Caminiti got Cody on the board for the first time with a 2-run double to right. 10-2 HAT
The Blue Gold came back from 4 runs down in Game 4, and 8 runs down in Game 7. Could they come back from an incredible 10 runs down in Game 8? Kile, who had been lights out in the tournament coming into the game, continued to struggle. Bell walked. Then Art Howe. First overall draft pick Jeff Bagwell came to the plate, and another tournament first happened. Kile balked, and that would bring in Caminiti to score. 10-3 HAT
Bagwell, a non factor for most of the tournament, added to his legacy of playoff struggles, striking out for a tournament leading 13th time to end the inning.
The Colt 45’s went 3 up , 3 down in the top of the ninth with Dave Smith pitching.
Down to their last 3 outs in the bottom of the ninth, Cody showed some signs of life with leadoff singles by Alou and Pence. But Turk Farrell got Correa to pop out, and the Colt 45’s turned two on a Carlos Lee grounder to third to end the game and the tournament.
Final Score: Hatter Colt 45’s 10, Cody Blue and Gold 3
HATTER COLT 45’S WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP!
After simulating the match, a peculiar thing happened. I saved the replay of the game, and as I was preparing to export the box score and game log, I started to smell something that smelled like burnt rubber. OH MY GOD I’M HAVING A STROKE. No wait, that burning is coming from my computer. . . phew... wait, my computer is burning?
And my computer shut off. And wouldn’t boot. And the burning smell is everywhere. And I cried a “Noooooooo!!!!!” so loud, it made Vader seem like he had laryngitis (which... I guess he kind of does.) So I won the tournament, but it fried my PC.
Thankfully, because I at least saved the replay file before my PC decided to self-destruct like it just gave Ethan Hunt a mission he chose to accept, I was able to salvage a box score by pulling it off the hard drive and onto my laptop (although it did some funny things with the name in the Win Probability chart i had to edit, and the stats are not cumulative of the tournament). But I could not get a game log, so sorry about that. But not that sorry, because I got bigger problems now.
Here is the rescued box score.
And the final bracket:
Tomorrow: Tournament Recap with Complete Tournament Stats, and MVPs and Top Pitcher Awards for each team.