Saturday, August 16, 2014

Game of the Day (8/15/14)

Astros 5, Red Sox 3 (10). Houston's Dallas Keuchel, who entered 2014 with a career ERA+ of 78, faced Boston's Clay Buchholz, who began the year at 121. I wonder what odds you could have gotten on Keuchel's ERA being over two and a half runs lower than Buchholz's this season...

Neither starter allowed a baserunner in the first. Houston got a Dexter Fowler walk and a Jason Castro single in the second, but a strikeout and a double play ended the inning; Boston managed a Mike Napoli walk in the bottom of the inning, but nothing else. Robbie Grossman doubled in the top of the third, Brock Holt singled in the bottom, and both of them were left on.

Buchholz was perfect in the fourth, and the Sox grabbed the first lead of the day in the bottom of the inning when David Ortiz singled and Yoenis Cespedes homered. The Astros got one of the two runs back in the fifth on a trio of two-out singles by Jake Marisnick, Marwin Gonzalez, and Grossman. Keuchel retired the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the fifth, and a Chris Carter single and a Jonathan Singleton walk put the tying run at second in the sixth before Buchholz left it there. An Ortiz walk and a Napoli double in the bottom of the inning would have constituted a rally if Cespedes hadn't hit into a double play between them; as it was, Keuchel escaped the inning with the score still 2-1.

Grossman homered to tie the game with two out in the seventh. Christian Vazquez singled with two outs in the bottom of the inning, took second on a wild pitch, and came home with the go-ahead run on a Holt single; Holt was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double, thus ending the inning. Edward Mujica relieved to begin the eighth and allowed singles to Carter and Fowler. Tommy Layne replaced Mujica and struck out the next two Astros, and was then supplanted by Burke Badenhop. Matt Dominguez grounded to short, and the throw to second for the attempted force was late; pinch runner Gregorio Petit then broke for home and navigated an obstacle course of Red Sox along the way, eluding both Vazquez and Badenhop and catching the plate with his hand on the way by to tie the game at 3.

Jose Veras worked a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eighth, and Koji Uehara did the same in the ninth; Veras then combined with Tony Sipp on a scoreless bottom of the ninth to force extras. Craig Breslow took the mound in the top of the tenth, allowed singles to Petit and Fowler, and hit Castro with a pitch to load the bases. Singleton flied out, and Tazawa replaced Breslow and coaxed a popup from Dominguez, but Marisnick then hit an automatic double to put the Astros ahead by two, and Sipp retired the Sox in order to finish the game.

Last season, the Red Sox won the World Series, and the Astros lost 111 games. Houston coming out on top in a matchup between them wouldn't exactly have been shocking, because that sort of thing happens all the time, but it would have been as surprising as regular season baseball gets - especially if Dallas Keuchel and Clay Buchholz were the starting pitchers.

This year? This year, the Sox are all of five games better than Houston in the standings, and you'd probably have to call the Astros favorites in a Keuchel-Buchholz matchup. That is quite a difference for being separated by only 12 months.

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