Game 2 Astros Loss: The Critical Call

6th Inning
Astros @ Rangers
March 30, 2018
***********
Odor getting off his wild throw as Altuve slides into 2nd.

No. This doesn’t mean we are going to try and cover every season game of the 2018 Houston Astros season. We simply could not allow this clear point to pass without mention. What happened in Game 2 of that first series at Texas is part of the stuff that makes baseball the superior thinking game that it is. Sometimes you don’t have much time to think, if you are a baseball field manager, but if you have your head in the game, and you know the rules, speaking up in time may become the difference between winning or losing for your team.

It happened Friday night. And the credit, however begrudgingly its extended, has to be handed to Rangers field manager  Jeff Banister and/or his staff. What Banister did in the top of the 6th inning, with his club leading, 3-1, nobody out, and Jose Altuve running at first, was the critical play that both changed the score in the Rangers’ favor and halted the rally that could have propelled the Astros into a lead that would have only grown larger from there.

It did not. And here’s why.

The top of the 6th started on a funky note for the home field Rangers. Jose lead off by dropping a dying quail liner to right field off right handed reliever Chris Martin that right fielder Nomar Mazzara lazily played into a trapped base hit, a result confirmed by a video review that did not find any secret catch to dispel the effect of poor fielding energy.

OK. Momentum is now up for the Astros. Altuve has reached the beach. The rest of the troops should soon follow.

And it almost worked that way. At first.

Altuve on 1st. Nobody out. Right handed reliever Martin pitching for the Rangers.

Carlos Correa strikes out.

Altuve on 1st. One out. Right handed reliever Martin pitching for the Rangers.

Alex Bregman slaps a ball up the middle. Shortstop Elvis Andrus grabs it behind second base and flips it to second baseman Odor on an attempted foot tag and throw to first for a double play. Altuve is sliding into second beneath when Odor gets his throw off to first, but he immediately regains his running posture and appears to be a couple of steps beyond second by the time Odor gets off his throw to first.

The throw is wild and goes into the Rangers’ first base side dugout. Bregman is safe at first and is awarded second. Since Altuve appears to be beyond second when the throw occurs, he is waved in to score. (If you look at the featured slide picture here, it’s hard to see how anyoe thought that Altuve was beyond second base when Odor released his wild throw.)

Regardless, for a brief uncontested moment, the score is now 3-2, Rangers, with the Astros now sitting on the tying run at second and one out. It didn’t last long.

Rangers manager Banister protests the call. But what for?

As it turned out, Altuve was safe at second base, but he was not beyond the bag when Odor unleashed his wild throw to the dugout. As a result, Altuve was recalled from the dugout to be a base runner at 3rd. The run he scored, of course, was taken off the board.

Protest settlement situation: Astros still trail the Rangers 3-1 in the top of the 6th. They have runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out.

The Astros still have all the opportunity in the world, but how much momentum is left in the tank as a result of the protest result?

Marwin Gonzalez walks to load the bases for the Astros, still with only one out and Texas up by 3-1.

Evan Gattis strikes out swinging. It remains a 3-1 Astros game in the top of the 6th. The Astros still have the bases loaded, but now there are two outs.

The Rangers bring in lefty Alex Claudio to pitch against lefty Derek Fisher of the Astros.

The Astros counter by bringing in right handed J.D. Davis as a pinch hitter for Fisher.

Davis strikes out swinging to retire the side. End of challenge.

The Rangers go on to score two more, winning the game, 5-1.

Mama said there’d be days like this. And we have to guess she also meant that they even are going to happen to World Champions too. Congratulations to Rangers manager Banister for picking the right time to protest, even if we Astros fans don’t care for the outcome in this instance. It’s part of what makes baseball the fun game that it is.

Yes. Baseball’s both a fun and a funny game. You learn that early. And you also have to learn that all the funny things that happen to you in this game don’t necessarily make you laugh.

The Top of the 6th just qualifies as one of those critical moments that changed the outcome of the game.

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

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