Where Sunday’s Game Dagger Was Delivered

Where Sunday’s Game Dagger Was Delivered

Nobody died and it’s not the end of the world. Having said that, it’s still hard to go through team slumps when so many of your really exceptional players are all out of sync with the basics of winning at the same time. Aside from our great pitchers, and they’ve had their moments too, most of our hitters are dialed way back to almost nothing when it comes to their usual note of lusty contribution to run-scoring on the road. A.J. Hinch said it best after today’s Sunday loss of their third of four games at Tampa Bay: “We didn’t play well enough to win a game or the series.”

Except for a sparkling double burp of power from Evan Gattis and his two home runs today, lesser single hits by Bregman, Stassi, and Kemp were all the ‘Stros could otherwise muster Sunday, as they also plodded through some defensive lapses, as well. We still aren’t sure what Josh Reddick was thinking as he casually threw that ball back in almost lob-speed as the Rays runner scored the eventual winning run in the bottom of the 7th.

The heart of the loss, however, unfolded on two pitches in the top of the 8th. With one out, the Astros batting, and the Rays leading, 2-1, Diego Castillo came in for Rays starter Blake Snell to pitch to Jose Altuve with the bases full.

As you will see, and probably remember from the Sunday game, his 2-2 up and tight fast one to Altuve’s ear sent our star reeling back in pursuit of safe ground.

The first thought that struck home here as a result was – now we’ve got him. No way Castillo is going to walk or risk hitting Altuve on a 3-2 pitch “up and in” a second time – nor is he going to plate one that allows Jose to do his own damage to their cause. He’s going to hope he can get Altuve on a nasty slider in the dirt “low and outside” that looks so hittable as it approaches the plate and then falls off the cliff and becomes impossible to reach near the plate in any good way. – If Altuve can just hold back and let it go, he’s walked – and we’ve got a tie ballgame.

Photo # 1: Sunday, Astros @ Rays
8th Inning, 2-2 Pitch
Castillo Pitching
Altuve Batting

Photo # 2: Sunday, Astros @ Rays
8th Inning, 2-2 Pitch
Castillo Pitching
Altuve Batting

Oh No! – Photo # 2 says it all. Altuve bit. Swung and missed. Strike Three. Now there were two outs.

Yulie Gurriel then hit a 2-2 pitch for a slow grounder, 6-3 putout. Castillo had done a great job for the Rays. And the game was essentially over. You could just breathe the air of resignation and defeat through the electronic transmission of team despair. Except for the second mighty blast from Mr. Gattis in the top of the 9th, that dire sense of resignation would carry forth with the other remaining Astro batters.

Tampa Bay won, 3-2.

Time to snap out of it, guys. With your help, the Mariners almost have made up all the loss arrears to the Astros they encountered in New York and Boston in the last few days.

Yes. It’s a long season. And these things happen. Even to the reigning world champions.

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

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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5 Responses to “Where Sunday’s Game Dagger Was Delivered”

  1. gregclucas Says:

    Only one thought that differs. Don’t think that slider that Altuve struck out should have looked hittable from the time it left the pitcher’s hand. It was low and out of the strike zone before the slider effect took it well away. For some reason Altuve lost full concentration. (High and tight pitch earlier??)

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Greg – Allow me to clarify. We totally agree. That slider was far out of the strike zone, low, and away for most of its brief life. Altuve’s swing reminded of a letter that you run out to hand the postman before he drives away from your mailbox, but, in this case, with no positive benefit in store. And, yes again. Altuve wasn’t into thinking that his club was one ball away from tying the game. He was putting it all on his own back to get the big hit. The brushback probably helped set the tone.

  2. Anthony Cavender Says:

    He has seen that pitch quite a lot this year, and hasn’t had much success.

  3. Mark W. Says:

    Small ball, fellows, small ball. Against pitchers like Snell and Paxton, who apparently own us, we should be bunting no less than 15 times a game. Even with the infield in, we have at least 5 guys in the starting lineup fast enough to beat out a good bunt. Springer, Bregman, Altuve, Marisnick, Kemp, and probably Reddick, all can do it. Gurriel isn’t slow either. The safety squeeze is a lost art.

    Altuve gets a lot of hits because he’s adept at slapping low-and-away pitches the other way. But that pitch was way too low-and-away and I do think he lost concentration. And I know it’s instinct to duck on a a pitch up and in, but I was thinking he could have taken that one on the shoulder. That kind of thinking really isn’t fair to Altuve though. I’ve been spoiled by too many years of Craig Biggio when it comes to “taking one (HBP) for the team”.

  4. Mark W. Says:

    (Posted on 07/08/18) Now THAT’S what I’m taking about. Suicide squeeze executed after 2 failed safety squeeze attempts. Small ball! The steal of second. And a helpful tater by Mr. Altuve.

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