Dan Peschong sends in his eyewitness account of the Astros’ 8-1 loss to the Oakland A’s at Minute Maid Monday night. Truth in advertising alert – a 5:15 AM wake up call Tuesday caused Dan to leave in the middle of the 8th inning, but he left secure in the knowledge that no miracle rally was going to occur this day.
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High school students all over the nation are taught to pick out examples of foreshadowing when studying writers such as William Shakespeare. If those witches tell Macbeth he is going to be king; he is going to be king, but maybe not a very happy one.
The foreshadowing of a stinker of a game Monday night was seeing the name Jonathan Villar and the position shortstop on the same line of the lineup card. Of course, this play/game was not a very good one, so the playwright took all of one play and all of three batters to reveal the foolishness of this move.
Scott Feldman coaxed leadoff hitter Sam Fuld to hit a tailor-made ground out to Villar, who then managed to drop the ball not once, but twice. Feldman gives Villar another chance at Fuld on a Mark Canha double as Villar’s relay throw gets home in plenty of time to nail the runner, except it is wide of home for his second error of the inning. Former Astros’ farm hand Ben Zobrist then rips a hit down the right field line and George Springer makes a nice throw to second. Villar (again) is slow applying the tag. After a sacrifice fly to Springer in which Luis Valbuena barely misses tagging out Zobrist (again) at third, Feldman looked all discombobulated and it set the table for a very poor game by the home team.
Random Thoughts while watching the game:
- It was a typical Astros’ early season school night where the stadium was pretty darned empty and awfully quiet as the team gave the loyal fans little to cheer about.
- Baseball is an easy sport when a team is playing well in all three phases of the game. Last night it was easy for the A’s as their opponent was playing like doggie doo-doo in all three phases.
- Scott Kazmir was very good and again made the A’s look brilliant for pulling him off the scrap heap of the Independent Sugar Land Skeeters and installing him as a solid starter.
- The Astros only shot to make a game of it came in the fourth inning, trailing 4-0. Jose Altuve parked one up on the railroad tracks to lead off the inning and I would not be surprised if the random PED testing squad showed up at his locker after the game. Impressive shot. Kazmir seemed to be struggling with his shoes of all things as he walked both Robbie Grossman and Springer with nobody out and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to clean mud or something out of his cleats. No worries as this brought up the “meat” of the Astros’ lineup in Chris Carter and Evan Gattis. Carter and Gattis are to rallies as Polly Shore is to movie success (though nobody ever puts Shore in a movie anymore). Carter and Gattis accounted for three outs and frankly, Carter’s sharp grounder to third could have been a triple play if the third baseman had thrown to second instead of first. The A’s answered in the top of the fifth with two or their three HRs off Feldman and put the game out of reach 8-1.
- Feldman could complain about lack of fielding support in this game, but his 88 mph “fast” ball was getting sliced and diced all over the place.
- Question: Would an opposing manager walk Carter (who started the game at .053 BA) to get to Gattis (who started the game at .000)?
- About halfway through the game I noticed that the A’s worst BA in their lineup was .286. The A’s whole lineup had higher BAs than everyone but Jake Marisnick on the Astros’ side.
- Overheard some casual fans gawking at the terrible BAs of Villar, Gattis, Carter, Luis Valbeuna and Springer. Part of this is normal early season slumps, but can’t anyone play this game?
- Hank Conger may be able to frame pitches, but he has trouble catching them as he allowed one guy to get to first on a swinging third strike in the dirt.
- You know it is a bad night when the A’s drop a Grossman pop-up in right field, but force Altuve at 2nd (and they lost the ball – did not do this on purpose).
- Manager A.J. Hinch raised a few eyebrows as he left Feldman in long enough to give up 8 runs. But after the 14-inning game on Sunday he was trying to squeeze some innings out of the veteran and not tax the bullpen.
- The Astros used their own version of tandem pitching as Feldman’s bad 5 inning outing was followed by four solid shutout innings by Asher Wojciechowski. This brought up the question of who would be starting today’s game against the A’s with Wojo unavailable. Though there is no transaction to back it up, Brad Peacock currently appears in the mlb.com score page as the Astros projected starter today.
- There was definitely a lot more pop with Wojo pitching as he was averaging about five mph more per pitch than the dreadful Feldman.
- Driving home, the announcers were talking about how Jeff Luhnow had assessed Peacock’s last rehab start as good, but that he needs to work on his control (5 walks/no hits in 4+ IP) to get back to normal. That sounded like his normal….
- In a side note, our long national tragedy is over as Gattis did end his 0-for streak at 0-for-23 with a bloop hit in the ninth. This ended an 0-for-37 streak going back to 2014. Ironically, he had absolutely smoked a ball earlier in the game right at the left fielder.
- Carter continues to look comfortable in the field, and did a nice job turning a snazzy double play with a solid throw to second base.
- Valbuena made another fabulous superman/Brooks Robinson dive and throw early in the game.
If there is a plus side to this – the Astros are only half game out of first in the mediocre AL West, but they need to turn this around against the first place A’s or they could be quickly buried.
Any thoughts from our loyal blog commenters?