Bilbos reporting live from Minute Maid Park. These are my stream of consciousness impressions and thoughts about the game in real time.
Pregame. In the car I told my friends if the Astros win it will be a high scoring game. Baseball is full of surprises. We’ll see.
At the gate they gave us World Series replica rings. Pretty cool.
Before getting in my seat, I got some chicken taquitos form Taqueria Arandas. Recommended fare.
One of my friends, not a big baseball fan, starting laughing when he saw the little guy at second base. I pointed to the signs over left field and said, “he hits those signs.”
First inning. Sitting high above the Astros batters’ box in the 300 section, After he K’d the Orioles’ first batter, I told my friends that maybe my prediction that Cristian Javier would suck today was wrong. Of course, the next batter doubled, and scored on a Anthony Santander double. Then Javier recorded two more K’s. So is Javier throwing invisiballs or meatballs? Starting catcher Martin Maldonado must be calling both.
The Astros looked awfully meek in their half of the first, and I noticed Kyle Tucker batting third. Wow. He’s getting closer to where he belongs — in the two-hole, but its progress. Oh, I see. Yordan Alvarez is out of the lineup today. Oblique? Rest?
Second inning: Maldonado must have called for invisiballs. Javier had a clean inning with 2 K’s. All credit due to the catcher for Astros pitching performance.
Bregs leading off for the Stros. The first pitch was a ball called strike. I can clearly see it from my perch above home plate. After another errant strike call Bregman called timeout , glared at the ump, and then worked a walk. (Statcast confirms Bregman was right) To no avail. Jose Abreu grounded into a double play.
Next up, Yainer Diaz. I told my friends he’s not much of a hitter at DH. He struck out. I’m a genius. Or a jinx.
Third inning. More invisiballs. No runs, a walk and two more K’s. That’s seven three innings. Good job Maldy.
Chas the Chomp McCormick opens the Astros half with an infield hit. It is the Astros’ only hit so far. A clean play by the third baseman would have had him. Good. Now we have Jake Meyers and Maldy to hit him in. Oh wait, two strikeouts. And Chas was caught stealing by a Texas mile anyway.
Must be clever strategy. Now Altuve leads off the fourth.
Fourth inning. Javier just struck out the leadoff hitter and made him look stupid. What kind of voodoo does Maldonado have going today? Don’t tell that after losing so many low-scoring games of late, the Astros are going to lose this one 1-0.
Nine 9ks in four innings. Unbelievable. Good thing. I need a short game cause I have to leave at four.
Astros. Three up three down. Uncompetitive at bats. The little guy who plays second didn’t hit the signs this time.
Fifth inning. Tensions rise. After another K, the Orioles get a walk, and there’s a pow wow at the mound with lefty rookie phenom Gunnar Henderson at bat. Hell yeah. Another K. A pitiful half swinging strike three. Way to go Maldy.
Great play on a soft liner in shallow left by Jeremy Pena. Saved a run.
Astros! Don’t waste this rare opportunity of fine starting pitching. Hit, damn it. Starting with Bregman.
Walk. To the deafening strands of Beethoven’s Fifth. Da Da Da DAAAAAAH. Not much else to celebrate offense-wise.
And the crowd goes wild. a wild pitch to Jose Abreu gets Bregs to scoring position. The only Astro to get there. He looked totally lost.
Not DH Diaz K’s, of course. Now its up to Chasigator. Harmless flyout. But this bored crowd got a brief thrill.
I don’t know what’s worst, hitting. 000 with runners in scoring position, or only having one after six innings.
Sixth inning. Hector Neris in. First pitch double by Santander. Damn it Maldy.
Now it’s getting ugly. An easy groundout up the middle but Altuve and Pena couldn’t decide who to field it. Error, runners first and third.
Is Neris the new Framber. But Cedric Mullins l. Kjerstad flies out to short right (Great throw by Tuck home would have have had an advancing runner). And great play at third by Bregs bails out Neris. He IS the new Framber.
crowd goes wild on a 3-2 count to Meyers. Have to have something to cheer about. And he singles. The crowd goes wilder. First real Astros hit all day.
Go Maldy. He’s trying to bunt. Better than a LK or double play I tell my friend. And it worked! OK little man on second. Now’s the time.
Mighty Jose down on three pitches.
Can Pena be clutch? It looked like a wild pitch put Jake on third, but the umps said foul ball and Meyers returned to second amid deafening boos. To no avail. Pena adds to the K parade.
But wait! Catcher interference puts Pena on first. The frist time the Astros have had two baserunners. With two outs and two on can the King deliver. All hail King Tuck. The fans are on their feet and LOUD. “CHARGE!”
Soft lineout on a check swing.
I’ve got to think O’s pitcher Kyle Bradish is pretty good.
Seventh inning. In comes Kendall Graveman. After two outs and a double he gets a quick hook. Here comes Bryan Abreu. If Abreu was available why didn’t he start the inning. The inscrutable genius of Dusty Baker.
One pitch, third out. Keep Abreu for the eighth.
Jacob Webb in for the Birds. Bregs up. To the tune of Deep in the Heart of Texas. Deep fly to left center. The crowd is on its feet.
Not DH up. Hit by pitch. We’ll take it.
Long flyout to right by the Chas. Better contact. No results. two more innings and two more tired Oriole relief pitchers to crack.
Abreu stays in. Way to think Dusty. Three up and three down with another K. That’s 13 so far for Astros pitchers.
The Astros open their half of the eighth with the killers’ row, Jake Meyers and martin Maldonado. It’s a good things these games don’t matter.
Wait. Mighty Yordan to the plate. I can’t hear myself think. Maybe he should have been in the lineup, ya think?
Fujinami walks Yordan on four pitches. Smart.
And here comes another lefty monster, Jon Singleton. Don’t let his .170 BA fool you. He can mash. I once saw one of his homers live in 2016. A homer here redeems everything. A base hit wouldn’t be so bad either.
Crushed a lineout to second. No luck. Goes with the .203 BABIP.
Altuve. If your guys can’t hit, walk. First and second one out. Pena and Tucker coming up. Dubon pinch-running for Alvarez. I don’t agree. If this goes to extras, you could have left your best bat in the game. Alvarez is not that much a baserunning liability. And we’ve just seen Dubon make some bone-head plays on the bases.
Bauman in pitching to Pena. 3-1, 3-2.
PENA RBI DOUBLE. THE EARTH SHAKES IN EAST-SIDE DOWNTOWN HOUSTON.
Hard hit ball down the left field line....Just foul.
Jose Abreu up. He’s looked lost all day. But this isn’t Bradish pitching. 3-1. NOISE. 3-2.
Line drive that hit the pitchers mound and bounced into the second baseman’s glove. More crazy bad luck.
I was right. Alvarez would have scored easily. And I think Altuve should have been sent.
Ninth Inning. God’s gonna cut you down. Hopefully Pressly won’t get cut down like on Monday.
Three up three down. Way to go God. Great job Diaz at catcher.
And Diaz as catcher LEADS OFF. Prove me right, Yainer.
I’m right. double.
Chaz time. Man on second. No outs. Gotta score.
Fielder’s choice. Diaz to third. Good AB. Dubon up.
Single. Astros win. Astros win. Bombs explode. This playoff race isn’t over yet.
Pena, Dubon and Diaz the heroes.
There’s hope for Astros pitching after all. 13 K’s total. Not much offense, but enough.
Great time for Maldy to rediscover the invisiball
Back at you Friday.