By Will Martin
With Home Openers having come and gone this past Friday we have seen quite a few stories take center stage in Major League Baseball. To wit:
1.Longview’s own Chris Davis with 4 homers and 16 RBI’s in 4 games. Gee, player of the week? There’s a no brainer.
2.Yu Darvish 1 player away from a Perfect Game.
3.The Houston Astros set a record for strikeouts in 4 games (56). Ouch!
4.Josh Hamilton a measly 1-16 with 8 strikeouts. Yes they booed in Arlington.
5.Prior to Friday the Nationals were the only undefeated team in baseball. That is until the Reds stuck it to Dan Haren for a Cincy win with multiple gopher strikes.
6.26 straight shutout innings by the Giants starters.
7.7 shutout innings by Derek Holland Friday. Only 2 runs allowed by Rangers starters in 27 innings.
Closer to home the Astros were sitting on a scoring drought. That number reached 23 innings before Jose Altuve broke the streak with a run scoring single in an 8-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics and Dan Straily. Straily with 11 strikeouts in 6 and two thirds innings.
Coco Crisp got the fun started with a leadoff homer off of ex-Athletic Brad Peacock.
For those not keeping score at home in four games the Houston Astros have fallen victim to striking out 44 times by starting pitching. 9 Matt Harrison, 14 Yu Darvish, and 10 Alexei Ogando. 56 in four games altogether is the most by a team since 1900!
Bo Porter spoke to the notion of not taking a good swing. Rather falling victim to a pitchers pitch.
“We had some fastballs to put in play and put some really good bats on them, but we fouled them off or we swung through them,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “In the Major Leagues, you’re going to get one pitch each at-bat to hit, and when you get it you’ve got to put it in play hard, and if you don’t put it in play hard, you’re going to find yourself chasing the pitchers pitch. Again, that’s what happened tonight.”
To hear Jose Altuve speak there is no sense of panic on this young newbie American League team.
“We only have four games, and I trust my team,” said Altuve, who’s hitting .438 (7-for-16). “We’re working really hard, and we just have to play together the right way and we’re going to be OK.”
Marwin Gonzalez was the savior in not allowing a perfect game to happen Tuesday night. A hard hit double play grounder was not handled cleanly in the 5th which allowed for 13 batters and seven runners to score in an 8-3 loss to Dan Straily and the A’s.
There was also a familiar face on the Oakland side.
Give Oakland credit. They ran the counts high on most at bats to the point ex-A’s hurler Brad Peacock was sitting at 89 pitches when pulled in the 5th. Was this a case of nerves for Brad?
“I was a little too amped up the first two innings, but I calmed down and feel like I did OK,” Peacock said. “By the end of it, I felt great, and was keeping the ball down. I’ve just got to get in better counts. I’m going to work on it in my next bullpen and I should be fine.”
It should be noted that starting pitching has actually been pretty solid the first four games. Bud Norris pitched a solid 5 and 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs. Lucas Harrell allowed but 1 run in 6 innings. Philip Humber only 1 run in 5 and 2/3. That should tell you something about middle relief and what will be once the bats start to warm up.
New acquisition Travis Blackley will invariably bring some pizazz to the middle relief in games.
A bigger concern? How about half of the aforementioned 56 strikeouts coming from three Houston starters. First baseman Brett Wallace is 1-for-14 with 11 strikeouts, right fielder Rick Ankiel is 1-for-11 with nine strikeouts and left-fielder Chris Carter is 1-for-15 with eight strikeouts. An error in the outfield by Carter allowed a 1-0 game Wednesday to escalate into the Rangers favor.
When keeping score in a game a strikeout is recorded as a K. If a batter gets called out without swinging it’s a ‘caught looking’ and you write it like a backwards K which indeed resembles a batter having watched a pitch sail on by.
Bartolo Colon returns to the Oakland staff tomorrow night after winning pitcher Strailey got sent down to Triple A to make room for Colon.
Bud Norris will take the mound for Houston Saturday eager to get the Astros back on the winning side. Suffice to say it appears a lot of these kids are just pressing.
By not being so quick to want to swing at something out of the strike zone Bo Porter gets proven correct in keeping the strike zone smaller. Why make it wider by going after bad pitches? It’s a process yes I know.
Pasa is a term for ‘happening’. It can also denote the idea of passing. Like a moment that does same.
For all this whiffing, this too shall pass. The hits and some wins shall come. That’s Baseball. That’s how the ball is bouncing down Houston way after 4 games. A long way to go. Indeed this will be an interesting season in Houston.