Myles Straw, who came into the game hitting .135, was surely the man the Rockies most wanted to see at bat in an 11th inning tied game, runners on second and third. In 37 at bats this season he had struck out nine times. But just in case he made contact, the Rockies loaded their infield with five players, each pulled in, ready to gun down Abraham Toro if he dared advance on a ground ball.
The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray.
Here’s what happened.
In case that was too fast to see, Straw punched one through the left-side shift, scoring Toro, who started the inning on second base, and advanced to third on a Garrett Stubbs pinch hit sacrifice bunt.
The game went into extra innings after neither team had managed to score a run in the regulation nine innings. Both teams scored an unearned run in the tenth, but rookie reliever Andre Scrubb managed to hold the Rockies in the top of the 11th after walking his first batter, and then having runners on second and third with one out. But the rook, whose previous professional experience has topped out at AA, proceeded to strike out the next two batters, Garrett Hampson and Trevor Story, setting up the walk-off heroics by Myles Straw.
Scrubb has not allowed a run in 9.2 innings this year.
A walk-off win and six in a row is great, but what we are seeing from Zack Greinke is immortal. The things he is doing with a baseball absent even normal velocity seem beyond human capacity. The Pitching Ninja, Rob Friedman said of this three pitch sequence, “put it on his Hall of Fame plaque.”
Zack Greinke, Artistic 3 Pitch K Sequence. ️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 18, 2020
Filthy 86mph Changeup, painted 89mph Fastball and a floating 65mph Slow Curve.
This should be on his hall of fame plaque. pic.twitter.com/qJRDOVEiap
During the game, Brent Strom said that watching Zack Greinke is why you should watch any game he plays.
Before the game I wrote this about Greinke:
Zack Greinke has been beyond mound artiste in his recent mastery, throwing six pitches almost exactly where he wants, as fast he wants, each almost completely according to his will. In this, the sub-ninety mph phase of his career, he has become a reincarnated Greg Maddux, (only better). Since game one of this season, Greinke’s pitching has become a thing of beauty, Rembrandt in its attention to detail, Michelangelo in the grandeur of its vision.
Rembrandt? Michelangelo? That’s from the Astros point of view. This is what Greinke looked like today from the Rockies point of view.
His six pitches: confusion, chaos, mayhem, disorientation, devastation, mental destruction. Where’s the next one coming from? Take cover.
The pallette and composition of a Greinke game is not a Rembrandt. Greinke is pitching Picassos.
The Rockies, the scoringest lineup in baseball, only once or twice squared up anything on Zack, getting only one batted ball over 100 mph. They got three hits, no runs, no walks while striking out seven times. But it is obvious that it is not necessarily the strikeout that Greinke is after, but soft contact. The Rockies’ exit velocity against Greinke was only 79.2 mph on average.
Statcast says he threw six pitches, but I think Greinke even has Statcast confused. What he does with the speed of each of his “pitches” makes them very hard to distinguish, fastballs, change-ups, sliders, curves, each thrown at different speeds, or maybe all four ending up the same speed, who knows. Except at the last moment when they break in odd, unpredictable ways, and the poor batter knows he just swung into an easy out, or just flat looked stupid. Like this.
Zack Greinke, elevated 88mph Fastball (foul) and 72mph Curveball (Swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/I0scYS4jaR— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 18, 2020
Zack Greinke, Beautiful 72mph Slow Curve. pic.twitter.com/VbKgXCMG7S— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 18, 2020
Here’s the line on Greinke in his last three games:
In this home stand the Astros won seven of eight games, six in a row, the fourth in a row by one run, two walk-offs, and this is the sixth game in a row when Astros pitching allowed two or fewer runs.
On the other hand the Astros have only scored nine runs in their last four games.
The Astros head to Colorado to finish this series with the Rockies in Denver. The Rockies are a different team at the mile high elevation of Coors Field. Hopefully tomorrow’s starter, Framber Valdez, can keep the ball down and induce grounders from this tough Rockies lineup.
Box score and videos HERE.