I'm tempted to simply use this wonderful piece of interpretive art by our own Eat More Esskay as the recap. But if I had to sit all the way through this thing, you're gonna have to read about it.
The Astros had lost 21 of its last 26 games. They had batted just .219 as a team during that time period. They were giving a start to a rookie reliever who sported a ERA of 7.36 entering the game, and it would be his first start in MLB. And they would use another pitcher making his MLB debut and finish the game with a third rookie on the mound. Their starting CF was originally in the O's lineup for the night and one of their relievers was knocked out of the game during long toss, taking a stray baseball above the eye.
In other words, this wasn't supposed to be Houston's night. But 15 hits, 11 runs, and a shutout of Baltimore later, it was.
Brett Oberholtzer pitched the game of his life tonight. True, I haven't followed his MiLB career, and maybe he threw a perfect game in 9-10 Little League play. But for his first MLB start, he went 7.0 IP, gave up just 3 hits, 0 runs, struck out 6 and walked no one. I dare say he may never throw a better game as a MLB pitcher.
It started innocently enough, as most horror tales do. Miguel Gonzales and Oberholtzer traded clean innings, with MiGo needing just 5 pitches to retire the side, while Oberholtzer threw just 10. Then the second inning happened.
Jason Castro lined a horrible, middle of the plate, thigh-high fastball from Gonzalez to CF for an automatic double. Gonzalez bounced a curve on a 1-2 count for Castro to move to third base, but Chris Carter popped out harmlessly to Chris Davis for the out and no advancement by the runner. Brett Wallace popped up to Brian Roberts, and all of a sudden, it seems MiGo's gonna get out of this. After all, going into this game, Gonzalez held batters with runners in scoring position and two outs to a .206 average. So, of course, Brandon Barnes laces a double to score two runs, followed by Matt Dominguez hitting a grounder over the 2B bag to score Barnes, and Robbie Grossman hitting a Eutaw Street home run on possibly the worst fastball Miguel Gonzalez has ever thrown. 4-0 Astros, and it's only going to get worse.
The bottom of the lineup, as Gary Thorne repeatedly told us tonight, did the damage. #7 hitter Brandon Barnes went 2-for-3 with an RBI. before leaving with a back injury. #8 hitter Matt Dominguez went 4-for-5, scored 3 runs, drove in two and wasn't retired until the 9th inning. #9 hitter Robbie Grossman went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored on that Eutaw Street home run. And that's before we get to what Jason Castro did.
MiGo worked out of a third inning jam, stranding Jose Altruve at 3B and Jason Castro at 2B (he doubled as part of a 3-for-4 night) by getting back-to-back strikeouts on Chris Carter and Brett Wallace.
No such luck in the 4th inning. Having already thrown 56 pitches in three innings, he would throw 24 more before he was lifted in with two outs. Actually, I'm kind of sick of having to look up the first names of all these players on the Astros I've never heard of. Suffice it to say the #7 hitter got on, the #8 hitter got on, the #9 bunted them over, MiGo walked the bases loaded, L.J. Hoes struck out (hey, I know him!), Jose Altuve ground out to J.J. Hardy, no, wait, Hardy misplayed one of the easiest balls hit to him all year, So, of course, Jason Castro hit a grand slam. Because that's what kind of game it was. Jason Castro hit a grand salami. Of course he did.
I could list and chronicle the O's offensive woes tonight, but frankly, it wasn't anything we haven't seen since the All-Star Break ended. Steve Pearce went 2-for-3 and only Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nate McClouth even managed one hit aside from that. One base runner, Nick Markakis, reached 3rd base, and that was in the 9th inning. By the time we got there, Alexi Casilla was playing shortstop, Ryan Flaherty was playing 3B, Henry Urrutia was playing LF, Nate McLouth was playing CF and Taylor Teagarden was catching.
I think that tells you everything you need to know about this game.
Bud Norris starts against his old teammates tomorrow, less than 28 hours after being traded. Wonder if he had to book his own room for tonight or if he's still staying in the Astros' team hotel. Because these are the things I wonder about after a game like this.