This week this writer hit the big 60 and as a reward for still being alive was taken to the Astros-Rays game Friday night. My son Adam had us in some great seats on the first base side of home plate, so we were in perfect position for witnessing one of the best comebacks of the season for the Astros.
Here are some observations from up-close at the game:
- The school district employee who sang the National Anthem had such a rich, beautiful voice. It was absolutely perfect.
- In the depths of summer the first base side of Minute Maid Park can be problematic in the early innings, but with the sun sinking a little sooner there was no sun in the eyes as the east side buildings gave us shade.
- The Astros built a 2-0 lead in the first inning by playing the small ball that is so often missing. George Springer walks, steals second, Alex Bregman stings a solid single that Springer has to wait on and then Jose Altuve gets enough of a pitch to bring in the run on a forced play at second. Altuve then pulls a play that is rarely seen outside Little League. 1B Brad Miller mishandles a pickoff throw from Drew Smyly and Altuve quickly races to second. Altuve notices that Miller is tossing a loopy soft throw back to the pitcher and heads for third. Smyly is totally surprised and throws late to 3rd base and Altuve is safe and the fans are going crazy.
- C Evan Gattis then knocks in Altuve with a single and the Astros are up 2-0. Seeing Gattis from the side, he really utilizes a Bagwell-esque spread out stance. The Bagwell comparison will be more apparent later in the game.
- JFSF shows one of his little teases of hitting talent in the second inning as he lines a Smyly pitch into the Crawford Boxes.
- At some point during the game, a lady who appears to be around my age sits down in front of us and begins playing Pokemon-Go. No words….
- Mike Fiers starts off well retiring the first six batters he faces. In the third inning the Rays started whacking him around. Fiers got lucky when Mikie Mahtook tried to stretch a double into a triple. Marisnick’s throw was high which caused Carlos Correa to hurry and throw the relay right into the ground that somehow had so much over spin that it made it to 3rd in time for a Bregman quick catch and tag.
- There was some question about pulling Fiers in the 7th. All night it felt like he could implode quickly, so the question may have been whether to replace him with Feliz rather than whether to replace him. Feliz gave up the run, but did get out of the inning with no further damage.
- In the 9th Giles looked good until he didn’t as he gave up a moonshot to a guy who was batting .144 with no HRs on the season.
- The Astros 9th was one of the most exciting of the season. Correa put a beautiful swing on an outside pitch and lined the tying HR into the right field stands. Gattis put up a tremendous fight through pitch after pitch and with the whole park on their feet he connected on a high pitch and tomahawked it over the train track.
- Both HRs resulted in 2015 – like celebrations. It was hilarious to see Gattis ripping his jersey off. I was jumping up and down like a little kid.
- A great birthday gift!