These Houston games have really had a playoff type of atmosphere and today was no different.
My Notes on the game:
1. Altuve crushed one down the line that hit off the wall JUST to the side of the thick yellow line on the wall. I don’t think it is possible to ever hit a ball closer to a line…I wouldn’t be surprised if it did hit the line.
2. Veterans of this blog know I have a few pet peeves. One is when catchers with nobody on don’t tuck their exposed hand behind their shin guard for protection. This is an absolute in my book. The other is that I think you should still do this with guys on base and if the ball is low or a guy is stealing you have to risk exposing it and you bring it out. With a runner not able to steal such as 2nd and 3rd it should be tucked. It surely should not be lazily sitting exposed on your thigh to be smacked by a foul tip. This is exactly what happened to Sanchez and luckily he didn’t break anything, but it will hurt tomorrow and it is stupid. It happens a lot more than it should and has knocked catchers out for extended periods of time.
3. It seemed like Sanchez was walking a lot but when I looked at it he had 11 walks in 110 AB’s (10%) compared to last years’ 40 walks in 471 (8.5%). I thought it would be a greater differential, but it is a little more. The equivalent would 47 walks in 471 AB’s.
4. Sanchez had a terrible defensive night, he had one he simply didn’t move well for, another that was a tough play that he didn’t make and then in the 9th inning with a one run lead Sanchez let a 101 MPH fastball go right "under" him for what would have been strike 3 swinging to end the game. He actually hopped up to try and glove it rather than using the chest protector (it was odd)…After the runner gained first base, the next batter got a hit and all of a sudden Houston was down one with 2 outs two on and Altuve up. Fortunately, in an exciting sequence, Chapman threw 101 centered right for a swinging strike, then threw a fastball down the middle for a taken strike and then threw 101 right down the middle for a swinging strike 3. Terrible location, but effective!
5. BTW, with men on base, Sanchez is uneven in his stance which is limiting his movement. It is sort of the equivalent to kneeling on one knee and then trying to move left or right quickly; hard to do (even though he isn’t that unbalanced.)
6. Cone had a cool conversation about how some pitchers dig in on mounds and some don’t and why some move around on a mound for different batters or to get away from the pitcher's spot of the other person.
7. Ump was better for us tonight. We got the edge on calls, including a fair ball called foul for Sanchez on a dribbler in front of the plate.
8. I disagreed with the decision of Boone to take out Tanaka with only 83 pitches in the 7th inning and nobody out and bases loaded winning 3-0. My reasoning was that Tanaka made an excellent strike 2 pitch and the batter pulled a ball outside through the hole between 3rd and SS…not much you can do there. The 2nd batter literally stuck out his bat and did a good job getting a soft line single up the middle on another 2 strike pitch that was located well. The next guy was said to have been HBP, but another incredibly close call. Yes had a great super slow and I would not have overturned the call either, but if you asked me to make a call from the video I didn’t see anything that showed it hit the sleeve so I would have said no HBP. Anyway, with bases loaded and nobody out with a 3-0 lead, we brought in Greene. He did his job and induced a weak hit grounder but we could not make a play on it. Then he allowed a hit and one of the Sanchez wild pitches he could have had and before you know it we are down 4-3
9. Green allowed another run after serving up a HR and we entered the 9th down 5-3
10. Walker led off the 9th with a walk (3rd time on base), Andujar singles going with the pitch perfectly, and Hicks puts together an excellent AB and wins the battle with a single to load the bases with nobody out. Torres gets a big 2 run single and we plate another run on a fielders choice and go into the 9th up 6-5 and Chapman saved it.
11. It was a very intense game! 6-1 road trip!